A proper mixing can make a big difference in how a piece or a group of songs is perceived. It improves the sounds and the general elements of the music to produce an outstanding definition. However, one has to possess relevant technical skills and creativity to make the song attractive. Thus, the mixing engineers have to be well-versed with technical aspects such as the flow of audio signal, console operations, the application of signal processors, and so on. Also, they have to be well experienced in producing a quality mix. Here are seven essential tips to help you gain the relevant skills or improve your expertise in mixing your music.
1. Prepare for the Mix
Before starting the project, ensure that you have the right tools, including the songs to be included in the mix. Also, ensure that your tracks are well sorted. Sorting your records will help you in identifying the songs which you have already worked on with ease. Experts from Samplified advise mixers to have a well-laid schedule on how you will execute your task; you may work the elements in descending order, starting with the drums, followed by bass, acoustic, guitars, pianos, vocals, and harmonies. You can also use busses to group each of the above mixing elements. For instance, you can create acoustic bass, guitars, bass, etc. The use of busses will simplify your mixing process as you can easily control the bass; apply compression and EQ across all tracks at once.
2. Get a Cool Static Mix
Great mixes start with a good volume and panning balance. Listen carefully to every instrument and prioritize the important ones. The tools will help you mix and produce the right songs well. Apply the volume faders to find the optimal balance of instruments, without touching any panning knob or plugins. For instance, you can set a higher volume for drums, vocals, and bass because they constitute the lyrics and the rhythm of the music. Ensure that your mix does not clip. Turn down your tracks and speakers up while sticking to mono.
3. Use EQ to Enhance the Clarity of the Mix
For clarity purposes, you can use EQ to adjust the frequency range or eliminate unnecessary instrumentals in the mix. Cutting down the less critical instruments frees up space for the effectiveness of the remaining instrumentals. Ensure that the low end of your music is composed of drums and bass. Other instruments may not add value to it but rather make the mix noisy. The most convenient way of using the EQ is by using the high pass filter to cut off all unnecessary instrument frequencies in all the tracks and clean the low end.
4. Compress the Tracks to Get the Punch
Generally, the tracks to be included in the mix have a dynamic range of sounds. It is thus essential to make sounds even sound for all records. This is where the compressor comes in handy. Typically, the compressor elevates the quietest parts of the music and depresses the ones above the standard range. Thus, you can use it to punch your drums, standardize the bass and instruments across all your tracks. However, do not over-compress your records. Instead, stick to the standard gain/reduction measure of 3 to 6 dB. The idea is to make the tracks punchy and consistent.
5. Use Reverb to Create Space
Reverb refers to the echo effect that is electronically produced in recorded music. It eliminates dryness between beats and gives the listener a clue where the engineer was doing the recording. You can use the reverb to make your drums and vocals top-notch. However, you need to understand the main qualities of reverb like the early reflections, the body, and the decay to use it effectively. You can subject all reverb tracks to a high pass filter to avoid wasting your mix with the reverb.
6. Go Stereo
Remember, you have been recording your mix using only one channel (mono). It’s now time to use multiple channels to make a great combination. Apply the panning automation to adjust all parameters of your recording and get an exciting mix. Don’t forget to keep snare, vocals, bass, and the drums in the center of the mix as they dominate the mix.
7. Use Automation and Effects to Add Flavor to the Mix
It’s now time to make any addition that would make your mix stand out in the market. Use volume automation to boost the audibility of lost phrases, correct your vocal track, and feature instruments in various sections of the song. Do everything you think would make your mix a killer track and add value to the listener.
Hopefully, you found the guide informative and helpful. Now that you know what it takes to produce a great mix, it’s high time to show off your skills. Make that great mix you have been dreaming of.