The Secrets to Space in Your Productions, Part 1

One of the most discussed topics in audio is the concept of space. But what does that really mean? And how do you go about getting it in your recordings?

Well, this is a pretty huge topic to try to tackle in just 300 or so words – so we’re going to break it up. This is part one – What is Space?

Listen to these two recordings. (“Gravity” by John Mayer and “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers) – Grab some higher quality files if you can – Spotify would do the trick!

Alright – which one has more space?

That’s a tricky question. In order to answer it, we have to know what space is and what it is not.

Space is NOT reverb. Reverb.

This is important. While reverb can put the instruments in a sort of “space,” just throwing a gallon of reverb on your mix is not going to add space. If anything, it can do the opposite – you’re only adding more sound to the mix, taking away from the space that other instruments are/could occupy.

So if space is not reverb, then what is it? That’s still a tough question to try to answer. It’s like asking “what is love?” If your answer to that question is belting out “baby, don’t hurt me!” – we might become good friends.

Space is basically a property of a recording. The term is used to describe the overall quality and feel of a recording. Space is made up of a combination of contrast, levels, panning, and frequency placement. We’re going to dive into each of these elements in depth in parts two through five of this series, and after reading through all of these articles – you should be able to give a good informed opinion as to which of these recordings actually has more space – and why. Not only that, you’ll be able to add more space to your recordings and control how much you’ve got so that you too can create great, spacey recordings.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment – we’re going to be discussing contrast and what that means in your recordings.

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