The following is a guide through the mixing process. It’s not the only way to mix, but if you’re having trouble getting started, this could help you. Mixing is an individualized process; what ever works for you is the right way to go about it. But, at some point it will be a good idea to write down your plan so that you can mix efficiently. The following is what I do currently, but it’s always evolving.

Organization

  • Track names
    • Scribble strip
    • Short names, capital letters – easy to read
  • Mix order
    • Drums on left. Vocals and Masters on right.
  • Color coding
  • Groups
    • Submasters

Monitoring

  • Volume
    • Not too loud, not too soft
    • Use master bus meters to gauge loudness of mix
      • Try to peak around -6 dBFS
  • Mono
    • Helps determine level balance
    • Shows phase problems
  • Source
    • Console v. Print

Mixing

  • Levels
    • The most important instruments are the loudest, but not by much. Everything should be heard; nothing should get lost.
  • Panning
    • Instruments are arranged as if they are on a stage, performing live
      • Get them out of each other’s way
    • The focal point is in the center
  • Nothing too extreme

Reverb & Delay

  • Front to back positioning of instruments
    • Similar to panning
  • More important instruments are up front
    • Longer pre-delay times
  • Holds the mix together
    • Puts the instruments in a real space

Equalization

  • Adjusts timbre of instruments
    • Instruments need to sound good in the mix
    • What they sound like by themselves is irrelevant
  • Cut offending frequencies rather than boosting weaker frequencies
    • Instruments are puzzle pieces that all need to fit into the limited space of the mix

Compression

  • For controlling loudness levels
  • Use clip gain before using compression
    • Signal level needs to be relatively even going into the compressor
  • The attack, release, and threshold MUST be adjusted appropriately

Automation

  • Automate the vocals so they are intelligible the whole song

Master Fader

  • Watch the master meter to accurately judge the loudness of the mix
  • Use master FX (EQ, Compression/Limiting) later in the process after establishing a good mix without them
    • Don’t over use the master FX

Reference Mix

  • Check the mix against published songs (the competition)
    • Stick to the genre closely

Metering

  • Check headroom
  • Check frequency content
  • Check dynamic range

Bouncing

  • If the mix is to be exported to CD quality, dither is required
    • Last plug-in on master fader
  • If the mix is to be mastered, dither is not to be used
    • Print to track within current session
Advertisements