In our last article we looked at how panning can be used to thin out an otherwise over busy mix. This article addresses the opposite situation. Suppose that you have a recording that consists of perhaps just one vocal track and one acoustic guitar track. How can we fatten it up to make it sound fuller?.
The most common approach, especially by the relatively inexperienced, is to reach straight for your box of FX plug-ins and pile on dollops of compression and reverb. It may well be that you will end up using some effects in this situation, but they shouldn't necessarily be the first thing you try. Your DAW software includes a number of interesting tools that you can use to control with precision exactly how your tracks behave in space, and that includes fattening them up. Why would you wish to yield that control over to some third party, off the shelf, sledgehammer plug-ins?
In this article, we'll deal with the guitar track. We are going to double this track up and then apply different EQ and pan settings to each track.
You can use the technique outlined in our article Height as a Dimension of Sound to identify two key frequencies or frequency ranges for this instrument. One will likely be somewhere between 120 Hz and 300 Hz, the other somewhere between about 2,000 Hz and 5,000 Hz.
If you are using new generation software like REAPER, the easiest way to double up is probably simply to create a new track and then add a Pre FX send from the original track to the new one. The routing setup for this is shown in the first illustration.
If you are using older generation software which doesn't support this 'kind of architecture, you will have to copy the track. For most DAW software this will mean copying the recorded media item as well. An example using Sonar is shown in the second illustration.