Synthesize room mics with very short delays
OBJECTIVE: Give a more realistic ambient sound than reverb alone can provide.
BACKGROUND: Real acoustic spaces have multiple (and diverse) early reflections, which electronic reverb has a hard time simulating. So, we’ll augment the early reflections electronically, then add reverb. To simplify matters, we’ll use a mixed stereo drums output, and apply our “room mic” to the entire kit.
1. Right-click on a blank space in the drum track and go Insert Send > Insert Send Assistant.
2. Check New Bus, check Pre Fader, chooser Master as the bus output, and click on Choose Effect to choose your desired reverb (e.g., PerfectSpace). Click on OK. Similarly, create two additional buses, name them Reflections 1 and Reflections 2, and choose the Cakewalk fxDelay multitap delay effect in each bus.
3. fxDelay has four independent delay lines, each with individual Delay, Feedback, Level, and Pan controls. Set the Reflections1 fxDelay times for 3ms, 5ms, 7ms, and 11ms, and feedback for each tap to 20%; pan the longer delays full left and right, and the shorter ones center-left and center-right. Mix level should be 100% wet. Set the Reflections2 parameters similarly except fxDelay times should be 13ms, 21ms, 23ms, and 25ms.
4. Edit the levels to taste. Try this: Adjust the dry drums level as desired. Pan the Reflections1 bus about 35% left, and Reflections2 about 35% right, with bus levels set for a good stereo balance and “full” sound. Next, bring up the Reverb bus fader to add “body.”
5. For each Reflections bus, add a Sonitus:fx Compressor after the Delay. Program the attack for around 4–5ms to let through the initial drum transient “crack,” turn off TCR, and specify a short release time—around 20 to 50ms, or even shorter. Set the Threshold for around 8–9dB of gain reduction.
6. Tweak the various effects and track parameters for the best possible sound. This takes a little effort, but it’s worth it.
¦ In Step 3, except for 25ms the delays are prime numbers to minimize obvious resonances.
¦ In Step 4, initial levels for each delay line are up full, but even slight changes in the panning, delay, or delay line levels can make a major difference in the overall sound. Experiment!
¦ In Step 5, the object is to add the “squashed room mic” sound favored for much rock music. For a more natural sound, don’t add compression.