How do you add ear candy to your mixes?

I’m struggling to find ways to add spice to certain mixes. Most of the time I will add some delays throws or a ping pong here and there or reverse cymbals. But there got to be a lot of other thing to do.

I posted a mix in BTR that I wanted to try having the intro sound like a set of headphones was setting on the desk, but could figure out how to do it. The other thing I tried, but failed was trying to make the vocalist sound like he was in another room, but each sentence got closer and closer, If that makes sense.

Anyways,I’m Interested in hearing what other mixers do.

Hi @Jerze :smiley: Try hi-pass AND low-pass filtering at the same time. And then follow the filters with a low-fi plugin such as a bit reduction or dithering plugin. :smiley: that should do the trick. If it doesn’t, run your intro through a pair of headphones on a desk, then mic the actual headphones ON the actual desk.

Ok. You want to simulate a wall. When someone is standing in the other room, what you hear is two things. Reverberation and muffled audio. If the voice is supposed to be behind a door, the muffled audio is actually caused by certain frequencies not being able to pass through the wall. Its a little bit of everything but mostly highs.

So what you can do is use a plugin equalizer that slopes down from left to right. And then use your recording softwares automation to gradually decrease the filtered high end incrementally as each vocal phrase occurs. If that doesn’t make sense, or you don’t understand, let me know, and I’ll clarify further.

*Edit: Then combine that with a ‘room’ reverb. What this means is a basic reverb with a good dose of ‘early reflections’ and a very short ‘tail’. Blend this with the filtered sound. (for anyone else who might be reading this and is curious, this is a trick I use to create space in a film cue when I have characters talking across rooms in a house).

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Hey Jonathan, hope the studio set of yours is going good.Looking forward to hearing some recording/mixes.

As for the things you listed i.ll give them a try ,but I’m sure I will have some question tho.If you have anything else you do also would be helpful.Hopefully others will chime in. Also, if you have any sound samples of what it might sound like.Ya i know asking a lot LOL.

Thanks :slight_smile:

You don’t, unless the song needs it.

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Well that’s a great starting point - you can get a lot of mileage right there, out of those few tactics - it’s really all about the application …Ear candy is like makeup - Think about it - cosmetics are just a few basic elements… But its when they are combined with taste and style that everyone admires the beauty of the wearer, not how awesome their makeup is.

…very true, sometimes a song’s “natural beauty” doesn’t need any “makeup”… but most times, at the very least something subtle and unobtrusive that can be “felt” or “subconsciously perceived” can just complete the picture.

Here’s some stuff to try. Don’t just “throw” delays - try reverb throws. Try delays into reverbs; reverbs into delays; try adding compression to the the reveb/delays. Think about the way words “move” toward or away from the listener and try to use ambience to heighten that impression. Try rhythmic delay throws on percussive elements, reverb throws on drum hits.

Try getting elements in the mix and reversing them, stretching them and mangling them to make something new and yet familiar at the same time. Process them through crazy reverbs and delays to create other-worldly textures that you can sneak in under the main elements to just open up that second verse, or put a “glow” around a particular phrase that resonates with you.

There is no short-cut or template for this kind of stuff - it just takes a LOT of listening and trial and error to work it out…
I guess the thing to remember is that this stuff is always a question of developing your taste. Just like a chef, you have to have a few disasters to explore the limits, but once you get the balance right, it can be fantastic.

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I get the impression people go looking for things to add, calling that ear candy. Often unecessarily. But your point is grudgingly admitted on grounds of past posts.

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For me, it’s less to do with processing and more to do with arrangement. A song should develop; that second verse should have some layered backing vocals,and/or some background keyboard guitar or keyboard noodling. Or drop it right down to minimalist instrumentation with a semi-whispered vocal. Or conversely ramp it up, with more forceful vocals. keep it going to the end, add counter melodies, little piano fills, some interesting percussion - anything to maintain the interest to the end.


I’m not sure what your genre is … but I am guessing if you are using ping-pongs and reversed cymbals, it’s probably not old-style country. (grin)

Here’s one that is really cool – forward and reverse cymbal. By that I mean have a reverse cymbal terminate in a forward cymbal so you have the build up followed by a release.

It’s almost a stereotype but it’s there because it works – Low pass filtering and automate it. I’m not sure what you are using for a DAW, but there is probably a way to set the cutoff on a low pass filter so that it will change over time – have a voice coming from further away and getting closer.

Tricky thing I like to do … is take a feed from a track to a separate track that has the reverb, and ping-pong pan only the reverb.

Wooshing sounds can be great punctuation for build-ups.

You can also add things like rain, footsteps in an empty parking garage at night, etc. For interest, you can pitch-shift these a bit and make multiple tracks of these offset by only a few ms. I did one piece where the screaming voice was from a lady who reacted impressively to a mouse.

For something that can be totally out there, try making a vocaloid sing.

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Now that you mentioned the reverb/delay things I did try some of that along time ago. I need to spend some time creating a track temp in reaper all set -up with the different combinations of delay,Eq reverb etc so I can just load them as I need them. Good stuff!

This is the stuff that’s tuff for me. It’s being creative in a different way than I’m use to, But I’ll see what I can do Stretching, mangling etc.I do like how you are able to make this kind of stuff work in your mixes.

Yes I agree, for me it’s the next thing in mixing I need to work on even though i might not use certain things in every song.

I’ve always thought the same thing. When I would write it was always about adding parts to draw interest so that will always be my first option .But as I get more into mixing I also can see the need for special FX ear candy whatever it’s called. I just feel it’s something I need in the tool box.

If it’s a good song anything. Your cheatin heart, Today I started loving you

I use Reaper so I can try moving the eq with parameter modulation…The voice thing I need to work with .I wanted to try it in my last mix, but couldn’t get it to sound rt.

Was this in a song or a backing track for something?

LOL… I need to look this term up

Thanks good stuff!

In that case I suggest listening to some of your favourite commercial stuff, note down all the little things you can hear, then copy them.

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It was for a piece of electronic music, a piece called “I know where you sleep.” The scream was there, and the vocaloid (in this case Vocaloid Avanna) singing “Yes, I know … where you sleep.”

I think the mixing stage should pick out the best bits of an arrangement and make them noticed. Yes add effects and fades and little reverse tails etc but if the sounds aren’t there in the first place thats the problem.
Mixing should be more about removing bits that arent required, creating space and emphasis on sounds rather than trying to paint over it.
Just my opinion


I think you nailed it @LazyE! Other than certain effects being applied, mixing is largely a subtractive process if it’s being done right. It’s easy to get caught up in the producer’s domain while mixing and that can get you going down all sorts of rabbit trails and cluttering up your mixes.

That’s an interesting take. I would say the corrective and surgical processes are largely subtractive. I think of the finishing parts more additive though. Once everything’s leveled and under control, I might snare and go ‘boring’…then add compression to get it to more snap. Or send it to the crush bus to get more punch. Or hear a guitar and go ‘needs more crunch’. Then add 1.5k or 2k.

I use high-shelf boosts a lot when trying to brighten up dull stuff.

I think part of the real vibey excitement comes from adding things. But you can’t add anything meaningful to a mix until you’ve subtracted the problems out of it to get it under control.

I think he meant the process is subtractive, not the effects. Meaning that mixing is more like cutting a road through the jungle. Most of your effort is spent clearing stuff that shouldn’t be there, but paving the road is also part of it.

If you are purely mixing, then it’s probably not your job to add talking robots or sirens in the background unless you are directed to do so.

But, I don’t think the question was ever about mixing, I think it was about sound design, so while I do think mixing is subtractive by nature, I don’t think it really applies to this question.

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Speaking of ear candy, I have a song I’m working on where I’d like the intro to have what would be perceived as angel’s wings slowly beating and then building up to the tempo of the song. I’ve searched a lot of samples and haven’t really found anything that fits. Has anyone run across something like this? I know you could take paper and flap it in front of a mic, but I’m trying to do this the easy way.

Have you tried any sites like this?

You’re right! That’s exactly what I meant. And I love your description of the process! :+1:

Thanks, I did check it out, along with others. None that I have found sound like what I’m after, so I’ll have to manufacture something I guess.