Space within a mix

Hi Chris, I am 15 and love making all types of music including orchestral music. I was wondering how you get everything clear but still glued together? any specific compressor settings?. And do you have any go-to settings for the UAD Studer A800 plugin as a final plugin before export?

Thanks again, Sid

Hi Sid,

That’s a great, and difficult, question!

So much depends on the composition and the orchestration. If either of those aren’t perhaps as good as they could be, it makes the job of creating space and clarity in the mix that much more difficult. When both are great, tracks almost seem to mix themselves. When they aren’t, what I usually do is figure out what I want (or what the composer wants) the “lead” or lead instruments to be. It’s usually obvious, but sometimes it’s not. In the case of many big action scores, the lead might be percussion, and in cases of wide ambient scores, sometimes there is no lead and you have to pick one or two things to focus on. Anyway, once a leader is established, everything else gets treated in such a way so as to support that lead. It may be the use of compression. It almost always involves panning and some kind of EQ (the latter of which I’m an avowed reductionist); and of course it involves the use (or lack of use) of reverbs and delays. Practice makes perfect.

As for EQ, even though I’m a reductionist first, I do often use EQ to create space. One example (of many) is on low synths and synth basses. One of my favorite things is, in Fabfilter ProQ3, to do a wide gentle push starting at maybe 900hz and slowly sweeping up as high 4 or 5k. I’m looking for the subtle frequency at which the sound opens up and breathes a little, maybe pushing 3db or so at the most. Once I’ve found it, I switch to M/S and only select the sides. You can do the same idea in reverse to the low mids that might be a little muddy; find the offending frequency, reduce a little and try switching to M/S sides only. If done right, it will create a little space without losing the character of the sound. Try this on anything to get the hang of it. Dynamic EQ is also your friend. And try using a shelf or filter to push or pull sounds forward or backwards in your mix (like to reduce with a high shelf to pull back into mix). Think of it like painting, in that haze often equates to distance.

I seem to have two regular settings on the A800, depending on the material it’s being applied to. If it’s full orchestra (or full frequency), I usually do 456 or 900, 30ips, +3 or +6. If it’s short punchy orchestral elements, I’ll do 456 or 900, 15ips, +6 or greater but also hit it harder on input. And sometimes if I’m having to tame harsher strings or just go for a darker color overall, I’ll do 250, 15ips (sometimes 7ips), +3.

Hope that answers your questions!



Thank you so much I really didn’t expect such a detailed response, Loved the video and really appreciate the settings and information you shared. This will come in handy for my next project.

Thanks again, Sid

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