If you have no idea what layering is, it’s basically combining two or more elements to either enhance an existing sound or create a new one.
Sounds great, right?
In this guide, I’ll show you how to layer your supersaws properly so that you can create wide, full, and clean supersaws.
But, before you layer any synths at all, it’s crucial to understand what’s the goal of layering first.
Why Should You Layer Supersaws
Have you ever heard one of the mainstream EDM songs and thought to yourself – “How do Illenium, The Chainsmokers, and Marting Garrix make their supersaws sound so big?” The answer is – proper layering.
Layering allows you to create the sound of one enormous sound, by actually using several instruments. And this is why layering is so powerful.
The Right Way To Layer Supersaws
When it comes to layering, the most important thing is that every sound will have its own purpose.
Since there is a limited frequency spectrum, and therefore, a limited space in your mix, if you add two layers that focus on the same area of frequencies, they will fight and ruin each other.
Usually, one layer will get canceled out, and the other will get weaker because of the fight.
Therefore, you should only add a layer if you haven’t already added a layer that’s similar to it.
In fact, one of the most common mistakes beginners make when layering is adding two similar layers.
What Sounds Should You Layer Together
Basically, you want to have one main layer of supersaws and other support layers that sound different.
The support layers of layers might be:
- Plucks – Adding plucks can slightly boost the attack of the supersaws, and make them hit harder.
- Pads – Adding pads can make your sound full and wide.Just make sure that their decay and release aren’t too high, or they’ll make your supersaws sound unorganized and weak.
- Different Supersaws – I can’t emphasize that enough, the support supersaws that you add have to be totally different than the main supersaws layer.Otherwise, you might phase lots of muddiness issues. If you feel like you really should add another layer like your main supersaws, boost the volume of the main supersaws.
- Instruments – Adding instruments is the thing I recommend the most. It can do absolute magic when it comes to layering.You have no idea what a simple layer of an acoustic guitar or a grand piano can do to your supersaws. I guarantee, if you mix them properly, they will take your supersaws to the next level.
Check out this example of good layers of supersaws. (It’s better to listen with headphones or studio monitors)
How To Mix The Layers
In order to mix the layers properly, you’ll need to process them both individually and as a whole.
Process Them Individually
In this phase, you’ll need to make each layer compliment the group and the mix the most. Therefore:
Equalize the layers
There are a couple of different approaches to equalizing supersaws and support layers.
The too technical method
Some people will tell you that in order for the layers to sound good together, you have to keep each layer in its own small frequency range.
That way, you only have one layer representing the bass frequencies, one representing the mid-range frequencies, and one representing the highs.
I’m afraid I have to disagree with this method. I’ll explain why.
First of all, this method is too technical. And even though sound physics is an exact science (also not 100% true), music doesn’t work the same way.
Music is not an exact science. Therefore, unfortunately, there is no precise formula for mixing.
Moreover, if you limit yourself to only one layer for each frequency range, you’ll end up with a thin sound.
This is what I like to do instead
First of all, it’s crucial to understand that there are no strict rules here. The only that you should count on is your ears.
If your ears tell you that something sounds better, so be it.
But, there are still guidelines that can help you:
As written above, every layer you add must have a purpose. Therefore, I like to equalize my layers according to their purpose.
I’ll remove any frequencies that aren’t related to the layer’s purpose, and I’ll boost frequencies that help the purpose.
Furthermore, I’ll balance the sound and remove resonating frequencies.
For example, when I equalize plucks that are intended only to boost the attack of the supersaws, I’ll remove the frequencies that aren’t related to the attack (The bass, and some of the low-mids), and check if it needs a boost in the presence and high frequencies.
For a more in-depth explanation of equalization, check out my article
“5 Equalizer tips that actually work!”
Notice that, in most cases, one layer will have more than one purpose.
For example, an instrument layer’s purposes might be to boost creativity, make the supersaws fuller, and boost the attack.
Continue Processing Individually
In addition to equalization, you’ll probably need to apply some compression to balance the layers and saturation to add harmonic frequencies and make the sound bigger.
It’s also really recommended to remove all the reverb from the individual layers so that you can add one reverb for all of the layers on the bus channel.
Process them as a whole
In this phase, you’ll need to make sure that the final single sound of the entire group of layers compliments the mix the most.
In order to do that, you’ll need to load them all to a bus channel. Only then you’ll be able to process them as a group.
After that, this process is entirely up to you and your taste.
You might want to equalize them, add reverb, compress them, add saturation, change the stereo image, use OTT, use LFOTool, etc…
My recommendation is to start from equalizing, and then experiment and see what works best for you.
These are the supersaws before the mixing process: (Make sure to listen with headphones or studio monitors)
These are the supersaws after the mixing process: (Make sure to listen with headphones or studio monitors)