The piano has played a significant role in dance music for a long time. Numerous popular tracks released in the last 30 years stand out mostly for their dominant piano sound. Because of its wide and rich sound, it’s critical to position it correctly in the mix. In the next tutorial, we’ll show you how to layer and process your dance piano.

As usual, we prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW. It includes most of the elements of a full mix. Let’s listen to it.

This is a screenshot of my mix taken before adding the dance piano layers and processing them.
~Full Mix – Without Piano


We will begin by listening to the three different piano layers prepared previously. Let’s listen to each individually.

This is a close-up screenshot of piano layers channels before processing.
~Piano Layer 1 – Solo (Unprocessed)
~Piano Layer 2 – Solo (Unprocessed)
~Piano Layer 3 – Solo (Unprocessed)

As demonstrated, each piano layer has a distinct timbre and sound character. The first, our primary piano sound, is a full-bodied piano with a substantial amount of resonance. It has a powerful sound that nearly covers the entire frequency spectrum.

While the first piano layer features a slightly narrower stereo image, the second layer introduces a wider stereo image since it has been slightly processed with a chorus effect. Compared to the first layer, its energy focuses on the mid frequencies, while the low and high frequencies are diminished.

The third and final layer sounds less organic than the first two. However, its purpose is to add accents to the chord notes. A significant attack on every note is noticeable. The multiple layers of the piano are there to achieve a big sound with rich texture and brightness that will dominate the track.

Processing our dance piano layers

To begin processing our dance piano, we’ll pan the first two layers slightly while keeping the punchy layer in the center. 30% to the left and right is reasonable.

This is a close-up screenshot of piano layers channels and its highlighted panning positions.

Once satisfied with the stereo image, we can proceed. Since our dance piano has three layers, it would be best to group and process them all at once, for a smoother workflow.

The first effect that will be included will be an EQ on the group channel. In areas of the spectrum where your piano’s frequency content could be building up too much, EQ should be employed to shape the sound. Some general advice would be to search for muddiness between 200 and 400 Hz and harshness anywhere between 2 kHz and 8 kHz.

A compressor will be the following effect we will use. A good option would be to gently process it with a plugin called OTT by Xfer, which makes use of upward and downward compression, as we need something to glue all three layers together. Let’s hear how our dance piano sounds so far.

This is a screenshot of EQ and compressor plugins used to process the piano.
~Piano – Processed With EQ and Compressor

Moving forward, let’s process our dance piano with reverb and delay. Adding these effects to return tracks within SoundBridge: DAW will allow for better control. For this purpose, we have chosen the MCharm Reverb by MeldaProduction and our own built-in delay plugin. Having a reverb on the return track can do a nice job placing the pianos in the same space, while the delay effect will introduce movement and fill any gaps in the sequence. Let’s hear the difference.

This is a screenshot of Reverb & Delay  plugins used for processing.
~Piano – Processed Reverb & Delay

Mix it together

Finally, let’s hear how our dance piano sounds in the context of the full mix.

~Full Mix – Dance Piano (Processed)

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