Before and after ambience examples

I’m interested in hearing your examples of mixes before and after any added ambience (reverb, delays etc). Specifically interested in mixes that were intended to be quite dry or natural sounding.
Would be great if you guys are willing to post your examples.

I find that I lack context when judging how much ambience is too much or too little when aiming for a natural feel and that I quickly find a mix sounds tooo wet when in fact it is still fairly dry to others…even when I’m comparing against my reference tracks.

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There are lots of before and after examples in this thread - it’s very lengthy, but there is a lot of detailed information:


I can’t wait to check out that thread ColdRoom. I am in the middle of a mix that I will be doing over a few days a couple hours at a time this week. I will try to post some examples from it.

To me, the audience’s experience of ambiance comes primarily from snare drum and vocals. I usually decide the snare drums ambiance first and then set the vocals to “feel” the same. This doesn’t mean I do the same thing to them.

If I want a dry sounding recording I may use snare chain rattle as the ambiance for the kit. I may add a little in under toms and the kick. If I want more ambiance I will add in room mics lightly compressed. If I need ambiance to fight through a mix I’ll heavily compress the room mics. Parallel compressing Kick toms and snare can add ambiance to the kit. If I want even more I’ll add reverb to the room mics. If I want even more I’ll add some reverb to the snare bottom mic and some delay. Sometimes I’ll do all these things ever so slightly to get a “natural sounding” but a dry kit. These are the things I will post examples of.

For vocals. I will start with a delay. My go to is to add reverb and doubler to the delay of the vocal. I may then add a little reverb and doubler to the vocal directly.

Reverb is almost always my last resort to add ambiance to anything. I real life you only hear reverb if you are at sound check and there are no people in the venue or if the music is too quiet and the room is overtaking the direct signal. If you are at a church which everyone has an emotional attachment to the ambiance of but are usually designed in the opposite way that you would create a great sounding recording space.


Thanks for that very concise and interesting “flow chart” Paul! Very interesting.

hi @ramshackles - I really can’t contribute any personal songs into this discussion, but if you would indulge me I would like to tell you about a song I was writing and mixing about a year ago. It was a really heartfelt instrumental (quite personal to me at that point in my life) and the ending of the song consisted of me just playing an extended guitar solo for about a minute and a half. I loved the solo, the sound of the guitar, and the basic setup of the mix. The thing that I hated was where the guitar was sitting in the mix. It was too quiet, too loud, too forward, to weak. But never right.

Then came along this song:

And it just changed my perception of ambience in a song. The main guitar, soaked in distortion, saturation and reverb. I hadn’t heard anything like it before. It might have helped that I was listening to it late at night when I was tired.

I went back to my mix a day or two later and basically put in an extra distortion, saturation and reverb plugin. My reverb which was set on the “small hall” setting was quickly changed to a custom 14 second reverb, with a whole host of settings to make it sound like it was coming from “everywhere”. Changed my song instantly, and amazingly tied everything together perfectly.

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Thanks for this thread. Something I need to study.

As promised here are some before and after samples. For me, ambiance is about adding layers that add up to something. It is a bunch of small moves towards an end. I have included a bunch of examples with both drums and vocals.

First here is the mix. It was finished today. I need to go back tomorrow or the next day to do some 2nd-day touches. This song is nothing like Ramshakles mix. Creating ambiance is a process that happens in every mix. Here are some before an after examples on this mix.

I mentioned before that to me, snare and vocals give the sense of the overall ambiance in a mix.
Lets start with Drums.

Here is the drum buss with all the fx as it was in the mix. I have the drum buss, a drum parallel buss and a parallel buss for the entire mix on.

Working backwards. The next clip is the same except I’ve removed the parallel buss tha was for the entire mix. You’ll notice the kit thins out and the ambiance starts to reduce. Listen to the decay on the snare.

Next I’ve removed the Digital FX. I had a plate and a hall reverb.

Next, I’ll keep stripping away layers going backward. This one is the drum buss with no FX and no parallel busses.

Now lets strip right back to just close mics.

Now adding in various room mics. This one I call snare room mic. It sounds nasty by itself. It is an LDC in my production storage room beside the live room. It is severely gated to snare.

Here is what it sounds like added in.

Next here is my “dark room mic” a mono ribbon mic.

Here is what it is like added in.

Next is a parallel of kick and snare heavily compressed and mangled. Some of the noise you hear is the buss compressor reacting to this without the other source noise.

Here it is in the drum buss

Lastly here is the “distortion track”

Here it is added in.

One thing I should mention is that when I recorded this track there was an issue with the overheads. I ended up using my room mics as the overheads. They add quite a bit of ambience. Here they are when treated as overhead mics. They are about 15 feet away.

Hopefully this gives you @ramshackles a sense of how I build ambiance.

I’ll reply in another "reply with vocal examples and thehis post is slowing down my computer:)

I’d Love to hear some others like @Jonathan, @bozmillar and @holster examples if people have the time.



Vvocals were parallel tracked with my Manley compressor. I then took that track a split it ( through hardware) to the manley (2 channels) and 1176 and my API 525. These tracks are blended together to get the tonal mix I want. On this vocal I used one delay, one reverb and a doubler effect.

Here is a verse and chorus with all the vocals. There is a whisper track that adds “air” and thickness to the chorus vocal.

Here is the vocal with no effects.

Here are just the effects.

The effects are a doubler, delay and a plate reverb. The delay has doubler and reveb on it. I send one fx buss to another. It makes a delay that sits back a little.


This is so cool @Paul999! Thanks is for doing this! I’ll have to see what I can dig up too

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Thanks @Paul999
The before and after vocals is really useful. In the mix I would say the sound reasonably dry, but on their own it sounds much ‘wetter’ than I would’ve thought.

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That is a pretty normal experience. When working with clients doing recall tweaks, sometimes you need to solo out vocals and they will hear that and say “OMG”. Or you’ll be listening to the file with them and press stop half way through and you’ll hear this gigantic “tail” from all the effects. You’ll hear that in pensado’s place into the lair all the time. Check out some of his solo’d vocals as well. The goal of most vocal FX from my perspective is to smooth the voice out. It is not to be heard.