• Philip Marsden

6 Tips for Adding Ear Candy to Your Tracks

In this blog post I want to share 6 tips for adding ear candy to your recordings. What is ear candy you ask? To me, ear candy refers to those little moments of interest you hear in music. I'm talking about unique sounds, filler effects, and transitions that stand out and keep your listener gripped. Here are a few I love to use...


Delay Throws

A “delay throw” is simply a delay used on only one word, phrase or sound in your song. It can highlight a lyric or fill dead space and is a great way to give your listener little bits interest throughout a track.

You can set them up in tons of different ways and different methods will work better in different DAWs. In Studio One, I like to set up the delay on an FX track and then automate the Send Mute on the original track, turning the mute off on the words I want to highlight. 

These can sound really gimmicky if overused, so keep that in mind. I like to manipulate the delay further with reverbs, autopan, distortion and formant shifting to make something that sounds more unique. 


Formant Shifting

Layering some formant shifting with your vocal track can add an extra dimension to the performance. I like to use Soundtoys’ Little Alter Boy for this. Experiment with taking the sound lower or higher, or use both to create a dense, almost vocoder-like sound. Mosa Wild do a great job of this on their track Faultline. Listen for the high voice in the background of the verses. 


Real World Sounds

One thing I’d encourage every artist and music producer to do is build a library of interesting sounds from the real world. This opens up endless sonic possibilities. You could create anything from organic, natural soundscapes of birdsong or rainfall to percussion parts and risers by twisting and manipulating your samples. Some great examples of this are the chaotic city sounds in Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” or the Hi-Hat in Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”, which was created from a sample of a pedestrian crossing in Australia. 


Reverse Snare Swells

A great way to spice up your drum tracks and add some impact is to use reverse snare swells on a select few hits throughout the song. To do this, take a snare hit, copy it to a new track, and reverse it. Then, place it so that the reverse snare swells into your ordinary snare as pictured below. To make the swell longer or bigger, add some reverb to the original sound and bounce it in place. 


Reverse Reverb Swells

This is very similar to the reverse snare drum trick and is a great way to build into a section of your song or highlight a certain lyric. To do it, cut out the word you want to accentuate, place a reverb of your choice on it and bounce it in place (with the complete reverb tail). Then, reverse this, tidy up the edit and place it just before the phrase you want it to swell into. 


Sudden Contrast

This is one of the more brash ways that you quickly grab some attention with your track. In a stripped back song, or in a quieter section, use a burst of loudness to grip your listener. 

Or, in a louder arrangement, use a cut to silence. This can have more impact than any sound effect, you could use it before any explosive section, after a chorus or end the song with a dramatic and sudden stop.


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