Mix advice, creating live session sound

I have recordings of virtual instrument jam sessions. Bass, drums and keys. Each instrument is sounding very convincing but very clean and isolated. I would like to create a mix that sounds like live instruments in practice room. Any advice for really nailing that sound?

One major trick is to kill the individual reverbs from each session “participant” and put them into the “same room” via applying common reverb (and/or delay and/or eq).

Two of the most typical techniques include:

  • route all of the particpating tracks to a group track and use insert FX for reverb and/or delay (and EQ as desired).
  • route “send” signals from each participating track to one or more Cubase FX channels containing either a chain with delay and/or reverb or delay and reverb each on separate FX channels with separate sends from each participating track.

There are myriads of other creative possibilities, once you start thinking along those lines.

And after that’s done may be advance to read up on “group compression” and “group saturation” in audio tracks.

You’ll be a mixing expert in no time. Just in time, before everyone will have their mixing and mastering done by a future AI. :wink:

This will make the biggest impact. Fine tuning the pre-delay on your reverb will help define the overall size of your room (short for a practice room). Also a lot of VSTi’s have unnaturally wide stereo panoramas. You can use the Stereo Combined Panner to make them more normal.

I once had a studio recording I wanted to have sound like it was at a small club live. Here are some of the things I did to fake the sound. As is so often the case a little goes a long way & too much can easily destroy the illusion.

  • Some ambient sounds before the music starts can establish the initial vibe. I used some audience rustling noises and the buzz when plugging in an electric guitar. And also one of those 2-stroke hits that every drummer does when they first sit down (I’ve heard its to verify they are holding sticks and not a beer).
  • Likewise some applause (be realistic) at the end.
  • In a live space the sound sources further from the listener will have their highs roll off a bit
  • Maybe even emulate a bit of mic bleed if you are really brave.
  • And last but not least - live performances are seldom flawless

Thanks, I have two ‘room’ buses with convo verbs with slightly different pre delays , panned a bit and shaped the eq in a kind of sub optimal way, rolled off the bass and broadly boosted the mids. It’s sounding pretty lifelike.

The way I have done it is annoying me though. I have routed all the instruments to the room buses with pre fader sends and turned the instrument all the way down so they all only ‘exist’ in the room buses , the virtual space as it were. This is working really well sound wise but then I have to mix the instrument levels by adjusting the send amount rather than the faders.

I feel like I’ve gone about it a bit ass backwards.

Do you have your reverbs at 100% wet?


No I was dialling it down inside the verb. It occurs to me if the verb was 100% then I could balance the instrument levels at the faders and have the same blend.

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How would you go about emulating mic bleed? My initial thought would be to create a bus for each ‘mic’ that had all of the instruments routed to it with the main one loudest and the others quieter with maybe an eq on to thin out the sound. Then that ‘mic’ bus would have the insert fx on it for the mic’d instrument, therefore effecting the bleed as well. Then send each ‘mic’ bus to the ‘room’ buses.

Good point about narrowing the stereo image of the vst patches. I noticed it on the Halion Vibraphone which is ridiculous with the low notes in my left ear, high in the right. But with the drums, I just thought they sounded good, but a live recording would be far more directional.

My inclination would be to not do it for all the mics. You don’t really want to replicate a bunch of bleed into your mix - that will only muddy things up. All you really need is to suggest some bleed, hint at it. I’d pick one mic, probably the vocalist’s, to be where the fake bleed occurs. And pick just a couple of audio sources. Nothing low like the Bass or Kick since they’d be rolled off for a vocal. Maybe a snare and a single instrument playing chords (keys, guitar, etc. - whatever is playing the simplest part). Basically a bit of percussion and pitch. Pass those thru a delay (not echo) and set the delay for the distance between the vocalist & snare drum (approx. 1 ms/foot). Roll off the highs & lows but keep the mids before mixing in a tiny amount.

Alternatively you could solo your ‘bleed instruments’, play them through your speakers and record that into a mic at a distance.

In any case you’ll need to experiment with things to figure out what works best for the recordings you have.

Nice one , thanks for the advice. I want to create a kind of pre-mixed template so can’t do anything post like recording the monitors output. I will bank that one for later though. Cheers.