A truly important aspect of a project (be it stereo or immersive) is the overall room ambiance within a mix. In short, it could be the difference between a standard mix and one that adds depth to put you “there”, within the overall experience.

The first tool that an engineer can have is the use of miking distance. This hip-pocket tool is often overloked in the modern studio. In short, it is the understanding of how distance can effect the ration between the source and the room sound (be it actual or manufactured in nature). It was said best in a magazine article … “if you want to get a Motown sound, just back the mic off of the source by a foot”.

Capturing the Actual Room Sound

When getting a sound, particularly if it’s during an overdub or a re-amp session, I’ll actually place multiple mics within the studio:

– One (or a stereo pair) for the direct pickup
– A stereo pair (often XY) at a semi-distant position (say 1-2 meters)
– A stereo room pair (often Blumlein) at 4 or more meters

These tracks are then individually recorded to the DAW for later use in the mix. The advantages to having the option to mix various distances together during mixdown is HUGE … and if the mix ends up being in surround or immersive audio, you’ll have the option of placing the room mics within the immersive soundfield. It’s that simple and effective!

Convolution Room Sound

None of this is sacred. Within the mix, if the room doesn’t match your needs, you can opt to add a simulated room sound into the mix. May favorite being the Ocean Way Studios plug-in from Universal Audio.

With this plug-in (or another convolution room/verb plugin), you can change the room sound or merge it with the originally-recorded room tracks to make your drums, guitars or overall mix sound much larger.

Here are tracks from my latest project – Gamma. These tracks incorporate many of the above acoustic and plugin ambiance elements:

David Miles Huber is a four-time Grammy-nominated producer and author of the industry-standard text “Modern Recording Techniques.” His latest music and collaborations can be heard at davidmileshuber.com.

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