Now let’s switch to the application side. When adding effects to instruments and vocals, keep in mind that in most situations, it all should be done in a complimentary manner. (Except in very rare cases.)
For example, if mixing a slow ballad with a long reverb applied on vocals, then chances are that a short-gated reverb on the drums will sound awkward.
I’ve also heard different delay times and reverb settings on lead and background vocals. Again, for the most part this is not a good idea. If all vocals are intended to be part of a unified pallet, which is almost always the case, then they should be presented as unified.
In other words, adding a random setting to each vocal - without any specific artistic purpose - will result in vocals that are a jumbled-up mess.
I once found this out the hard way. Experimenting with a new, original song, I set up different delay times for the background vocals.
Everything sounded great - until all four vocalists started singing a certain passage together. Then it became three badly matched background voices topped by a lead voice that also didn’t remotely fit.
It suddenly sounded like a different song had started! (By the way, if you ever find yourself in this position, slap the side of your rack and act like the gear is causing the problem, not you.)
A very common question with effects: how much is enough? I think we’ve all come across mixes that were compromised or even ruined by the overuse of effects. (On the other hand, I’ve also heard some so-so bands that were saved by a good mix and heavy doses of effects!)
Particularly in a smaller environment like a club, certain elements of a mix tend to stand out: guitar lead, keyboard lead, thundering kick drum, and so on, while most of the time, the effects are not intended to stand out.