If you’re like me and have always wondered how to create realistic depth to your music with a deep, ambient backing, while still retaining a strong dry signal at the front (I find James Holden’s One For You (Altitude Mix) and Hamel + Noble - Cubism (Praha Remix) are excellent examples of this), you might like to try this…
Instead of just trying to give instruments an individual placing in the mix (some nearer the front, others nearer the back), which usually ends up in a mess anyway, try putting a delay on the instrument you want to have the ambience of heard in the back, and then put a strong reverb on this delay.
The way I used to do it was by giving the reverb of some instruments a longer decay time and greater wet:dry ratio, but these distant reverbs were ultimately masked by the sounds nearer the front, and the whole thing just didn’t sound real. So, here is an interesting alternative:
Create two tracks with the same note data of, say, a percussion instrument. Then, put the same reverb plugin onto each one (with the same settings), and on the second track mute the reverb part of it (so only the dry signal and early reflections are present). Third, add a delay plugin onto the second track, and from this only send out the wet (delay) signal. Lastly, add another reverb after this and mute all signals going out apart from the reverb alone. Now just set your volumes up correctly so the second track is quieter than the first, and you have a strong dry signal with only the initial reverb to make it seem as if it is near the front of a room, as well as a nice, far-away delay at the back of the room.
In order to do this you will need a good set of plugins, however, like the ones found here. Sound Forge 6 does the job too, though. You will only have to render all the effects to your samples before you load them into your song.
Hope this helps anyone.