Mixing & Mastering - Using Effects During Mixing

Using effects can make or break your mix. Mixing makes a simple recording into a major production, but over processing can spoil the end results.

On this music production lesson we’ll cover the commonly used effects during a mixdown of a song. We are going to start with the most important tool in the studio, the...


Reverb creates the illusion of space and when added to vocals, it makes them sound more musical helping them to sit with the mix, but too much can make them sound distant and cause sibilance.

Hardware is still the best and if you are using plug-in don’t go for low quality reverbs especially when applied to vocals.

Avoid applying it on bass instruments, because it will make your mix muddy on the low end and can result in a loss of definition. To add space to your kick use a short ambience or a gated reverb.

Use hall reverb with a phaser or flanger (in a send/bus channel) to keep a sound moving in a mix, for drums apply a room reverb with a low cut and spring reverbs work well on vocals, to keep other instruments at the back of a mix use a short reverb.


Chorus effects are great for creating space and movement but can push a sound back in a mix. It works really well with backing vocal harmonies, an acoustic or electric guitar. It’s a great ear candy effect and can double up sound.


Distortion is mostly used for electric guitars. Add distortion effects to a bass and synth sound to give it warmth and it fattens the sound, also giving it quality.

You can also get tape sound with it and another way to get the old tape sound is to add a bit-crusher but be careful with that, try adding at least 12% to 15% when using it on the master channel.


For delays use stereo delays with one side set at a quarter note timing and the other with eighth note timing, but you can get the same results by using two delays with one panned hard right and one panned hard left, this is called cross-delay and it sounds expensive.

A sync delay is perfect to match the delay with the tempo of the song so use that to make your delay sound rich and in sync with the music.

Phaser and Flanger

Phaser and Flanger sounds great when used as send Fx, and introduce them in certain parts of an arrangement, this gives drama to your song, it’s an old music production trick but rarely used these days and it can be an excellent ear candy.

Vocals benefit a lot when processed. Create different tracks for different effects and different panning. Avoid using multiple effects on one vocal track, and always leave one dry version of the vocal.

Use a high-pass filter for most of the individual tracks to create space for the kick & Bass and to make more headroom, if needed.

For a bad performance use pitch-correction effects such as the legendary auto-tune, but just a subtle percentage will work, not 100% like T-Pain LOL!!!

But for me, the best tool for pitch correction is Melodyne, Click Here to find more detailed info about the Melodyne plugin. Use a de-esser to remove any sibilance on vocals, the hiss sound, over compression can also cause sibilance.

I really hope You found this tutorial helpful. I didn't include the compressor in this lesson because I look at the compressor as a processor not an effect, but I did an article about how you can use it during mixing. Check it out on Ezine: http://ezinearticles.com/?Music-Production-Tips---How-to-Use-a-Compressor-During-Mixing&id=4499605

Happy Mixing!!!

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