In a mix, it is normal to want particular instruments to sound thicker. The most popular for this is probably vocals or guitars. Vocals in particular are very common to thicken, as you want it to really stand out at the forefront of your mix, without having to actually put the volume up too much higher than everything else. So how do we do this?
There are a few ways to thicken a vocal (or other instrument). First of all, a ‘DIY’ chorus effect. Now, I bet you’re thinking why would I DIY it when there are already so many chorus plug-ins out there? The Chorus effect doesn’t always sound very natural, and many times you don’t want your average listener to be able to pick up on the mixing. A more realistic sounding way of doing this is to layer a couple of slightly detuned takes with a normal take of your instrument (Bastien, 2003). Similar to this technique, you can also layer a dry track with one that is an octave or even two above to thicken up your sound with more of a harmonising type effect (“Fat Beats: Thickening Up A Thin Mix Production Tips”, 2015).
Another way to thicken your sound is with a delay effect. If you turn down the feedback and mix level of your delay outboard gear/plug-in, this will stop the delay from actually becoming an echo, but rather make each sound just slightly longer and fatter. You can hear an example in the video below (not the best explained but you can hear the difference in the guitar):
Last but not least is the Haas effect, which can be used to widen the stereo image of an instrument and make it sound fatter. With this, all you have to do is duplicate your instrument track, pan one hard right and the other hard left, and then nudge one of them VERY slightly backwards or forwards. Just try maybe 10 millisecond nudges at a time, because if you overdo this you can get bad comb-filtering, which will make your audio sound a lot thinner and just generally terrible.
I hope you learnt a few little tips and tricks to be able to fatten up your mixes. Thanks again for reading!
Bastien, P. (2003). Voice Specific Signal Processing Tools. In 23rd International Conference: Signal Processing in Audio Recording and Reproduction (p. 2). TC-Helicon, Victoria, BC, Canada: TC-Helicon, Victoria, BC, Canada.
Fat Beats: Thickening Up A Thin Mix Production Tips. (2015). ModeAudio. Retrieved from https://modeaudio.com/magazine/fat-beats-thickening-up-a-thin-mix#.WLlvmG-GPIU
Pyramind,. (2015). Pro Tools | Tips & Tricks | Haas Effect | Paul Simmans | Thicken and Broaden Your Guitar Parts. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv6Z6hQ5qjw