The chorus in your track is the most memorable part of your song.
This section of your track is the main event and will be providing the theme to the listener. This makes having a compelling and memorable chorus section a must for your song.
Thankfully, there are a few minor adjustments that you can make to your existing tracks to have your chorus stand out in the mix. In this article, I am going to go over four different tips that you can apply to your existing tracks and future tracks to create a more powerful chorus.
The first tip is the most basic tip, but also the most powerful.
The volume of the individual sounds and groups of sounds in your mix plays a huge role on the overall power of the mix. Louder sounds are almost always going to sound more appealing to the listener.
Knowing this, we can carefully manipulate the overall volume of our track to create the perception of loudness without having to raise any volume levels which could cause imbalances in the mix.
To implement this volume trick, we are going to head on over to our master channel. Then we are going to add in volume automation eight or four bars before the actual chorus. The volume will go down -2 to -3 dB during the eight or four bars. Based on your specific track, you will want to choose the volume dip at the appropriate bar length before the chorus. Some tracks might sound better with the volume dip four bars before the chorus and some might sound better, slowly going down over eight bars.
From there you are going to bring the volume automation back up to unity one eighth note before the first beat of the chorus. This gradual volume dip over the four or eight bars will get the listener used to a lower volume level without them feeling like the volume really dipped.
Then once the chorus hits, the volume will be back to unity and will appear much louder and fuller to the listener without it being overbearing.
The next tip for creating a more powerful chorus is to adjust the stereo image of our track. This tip is actually very similar to the previous tip in that we will be applying stereo imaging to the eight or four bars before our chorus. This stereo imaging will not actually widen the mix though.
We are going to be reducing the stereo image on the master channel and then bring it back to unity right before the chorus hits. Just like the volume automation tip, the gradual narrowing of the stereo image and quick return to its original stereo imaging before the chorus will give the perception of a wider mix.
Place a utility plugin on your master channel. Most DAW’s will have a utility plugin. Either eight or four bars before your chorus, bring down the stereo image of your track around -10 to -18% by using your DAWs automation. Then an eighth note before the chorus, bring the width back to unity.
Now your chorus will appear much wider.
Mid Side EQing
Finally, we are going to apply a mid-side EQ to the master channel of our track to create a more powerful chorus.
A mid-side EQ is an EQ that allows you to have separate control over the frequency spectrum in the mid (mono) part of the stereo field and the sides of the stereo field. Our two previous tips did not affect the actual chorus itself, it just adjusted the track before the chorus. With our mid-side EQ, we are going to have it turn on when the chorus plays and turn it off when the chorus is not playing.
Go into your master channel automation lane and turn the mid-side EQ on only for the chorus. All DAW’s have a stock mid-side EQ that you can use here. Once we have the automation in place, we are not going to adjust the actual EQ.
To create more power in our mix, we are going to adjust only the sides of the stereo field. By boosting high frequencies in the sides of the stereo field, you will give your track an added perception of width and brightness. We are going to add a high shelf filter to the EQ in the sides of the stereo field and boost the high shelf filter around 0.6 to 0.8 dB.
A little goes a long way here as this side high shelf filter will be applied to the entire track and small EQ changes will be noticeable.
In order to create a professional track, the chorus in your track must impress your audience. The chorus is the most important part of your song and must be highlighted in your track.
By applying the three simple audio processing three tips above you will give greater emphasis to your chorus and make this section stand out.
Daniel is a caffeine-dependent entrepreneur, music producer, sound design junkie, and world traveler crazy about teaching modern electronic music production through his site SoundShock.