Creating a good song always requires the right combination of proper recording and mixing. Most people are familiar with the recording part of creating a song, but a lot of people are unaware of what goes on after that which is mixing. Mixing a song is not as easy as it sounds. This is where the overall effect of a good song depends on, which is why it takes a lot of creativity and engineering to successfully mix a song. For many years, music producers have been coming up with ways to improve songs. They could include backing vocals or add more instruments. However, sometimes the simplest techniques could be the most effective and efficient solution.
A technique that is used widely in the industry is parallel processing. This basically involves an individual track, whether it’s a vocal or an instrument, and duplicating it to be processed in a different way. You could say that it is a form of layering duplicate tracks to the original (dry) track to enhance the song’s overall sound. There are so many ways to use parallel processing because it is a very versatile technique. However, parallel processing can’t just be used to add effects. It can also be used to strengthen vocals or add power to instruments. Sometimes, even the subtlest changes in a duplicate could profoundly change the technical and emotional aspects of a song.
Using parallel processing is very procedural which is why engineers and music aficionados are usually the only ones that know all the technical jargon. However, it is also important to know what you want from a song before you start mixing, so that the feel of the song doesn’t get lost along the way. Before you get overwhelmed by all the technical stuff, just know that the best way to learn is by tweaking the different tracks of a song yourself. To help guide you, we have 5 effect combinations that you could try.
Parallel Compression + EQ
This effect is typically used for vocal tracks. Before we get into details, you must first know that compression is done when you want to fine tune a track. Compressing involves reducing loud sounds that go beyond a threshold, while leaving quiet sounds untouched. Sometimes, compressing could affect the tone of the duplicate track, so you can adjust the equalizer (EQ) according to your preference.
An EQ basically allows you to manipulate the frequencies of a track. Instead of using presets, you get to modify the track manually. Many experts suggest that when tweaking the EQ of a track, you might want to try subtracting or decreasing the frequency.
Parallel EQ + Compression
It may sound the same as the previous effect, but this is different. This is commonly used if you want to boost and thicken a sound. This sounds cool when used on kick, snare, and vocal tracks. The effect involves over adjusting the EQ of a parallel track and then compressing it. This gives consistency and presence to a specific track.
Parallel Distortion + EQ
Distortion to a track basically means changing its waveform. Parallel distortion sounds really good for vocals, bass, and drums. This effect adds certain grit to a track and really fits powerful vocals and instruments. Doing parallel distortion can also affect the EQ curve of the track, so you could fix that according to your preference as well.
Parallel Chorusing + Compression
Used commonly for electric or acoustic guitars, parallel chorusing involves widening the sound of a track if you want it to sound thicker and richer sound. A chorus effect, from the name itself, means making an individual sound seem like it’s coming from multiple sources. It is basically achieved by creating short delays and simulating slight variations in pitch and timbre. On guitars, this is used to give a dreamy and surreal effect. A compression is also added to add layer and texture to the track.
Parallel Pitch Shifting
This trick is often used for vocals on pop songs. It involves subtly increasing the pitch by around an octave and then adding a reverb. This effect can enhance or lift a phrase from the song to add more texture and movement.