Mixing music takes both technical expertise and imagination in order to make a piece appealing to listeners. Mix engineers must first have a technical understanding of audio signal flow, DAW and/or console operation, and the use of signal processors, whether plugin or outboard. The instruments that will be employed when, where, and how will be determined by artistic talent and expertise. You can start receiving better results right away by using these mixing tips.
General Mixing Tips
There’s a lot of misinformation about high passing out there; some people even argue you shouldn’t high pass at all! This kind of “knowledge” spells disaster for your mix’s low end. Use soft high pass slopes, boost low end information that adds to the sound of the instrument, and high pass information that competes with other sounds to create space for each instrument. Kick drums can be high-passed up to 30 Hz by good mixers.
2. Allow yourself to rest
Take frequent breaks, not only to save your hearing, but also to provide you with a sense of balance by listening in various situations. Take a break from sitting in the middle of the speakers! To give oneself perspective and a break from being stuck in one position for so long, go to a different room, listen to music on a different system, drive in the car, or go wherever you can.
3. Make Use of References
Reference mixes are useful for ensuring that your mix is heading in the right direction. What’s the status of my low end? Compare that to a mix that has a fantastic bottom end. Is the vocal in the correct spot? You can compare it to a mix you know and love that has a great voice balance.
But don’t forget about your own effort! If you’re mixing a rock band with slamming drums and you’ve done an outstanding job on a track with slamming drums in the past, then use that mix as a model!
4. Sidechain Guitar to the Lead Vocal
It’s easy to build up this effect. This will assist you mix the lead guitar and vocal together if you get to the finish of the song and they’re both wailing away at the same time. Your vocal should be sent to a bus. Make that bus the main or sidechain input on the lead guitar track’s compressor. The track will now be in the foreground when the guitar is playing and the vocalists aren’t singing. The compressor on the guitar track will be triggered as soon as the vocal comes in, and the instrument will be ducked by the amount you defined using the threshold.
5. Snare Overheads on the Sidechain
Another great side chain compressor method is this one. You can easily set up a bus on the main snare channel if you record your overheads and discover that there is too much snare sound in them. Send the bus to the above compressor. Every time the snare drum hits, the compressor is triggered, and the snare is lowered into the overheads. Your cymbals will be uncompressed while the snare is not playing.
6. Use Parallel Compression for Aggressiveness or Excitement
Parallel compression entails duplicating the desired track and pounding the duplicate with a compressor until it sounds unlistenable on its own. The primary track is then gradually blended with the compressed one until the desired result is attained.
It’s most commonly used on vocals and percussion, but it can be used on anything to add aggression or excitement to a mix.
Mixing Tips for Panning
7. Create Excitement by Automating Harmonies
Starting with your background vocals narrowing around your lead vocal, pan left and right for increased excitement is a simple but effective technique for creating greater width and exaggerating choruses.
You can go even further and gradually automate your pans until they’re incredibly wide at the conclusion of the section.
8. Panning Tricks for Ear Candy
You can, for example, time a generic drum loop (even if it doesn’t seem appropriate for the song! ), delete the low end, distort it, and pan some components left and right. You can make it as subtle or as outlandish as you want. Typically, you’d want to bury it slightly beneath the unaffected tracks to provide some “ear candy” for headphone listeners.
9. Pan Reverse Cymbals
Reversing cymbals is a common technique for creating excitement or indicating changes. It also sounds like a lot of fun! The impression is amplified even more if you take the method a step further and add intelligent pan automation.
You can pan from one side to the other, gradually speeding up until the next part of the song comes in if you’re utilizing the reverse cymbals method to build up to a chorus, for example. It produces a lot of expectation, which is a great approach to add excitement to your mix.
10. Control Harshness While Brightening Guitars
Electric guitars cut better when the high end is boosted, and high passing allows the bass and kick to breathe. However, after increasing presence, notes become incredibly crisp and “ice pick-y.” You can de-ess after the EQ to catch any bothersome shrillness and control any undesirable harshness while still maintaining high-end clarity.
This technique makes the electric guitar seem brighter, but not so bright that it overpowers the vocals and loses its place in the mix.
11. Reverb/Delay Returns from High and Low Pass Filters
Unfiltered reverbs and delays can add a lot of mud or harshness to an otherwise good mix, cluttering it up. High and low pass your reverb and delay returns is a classic mixing technique for removing this undesirable cacophony.
High pass about 600 Hz and low pass around 7 kHz was the traditional “Abbey Road” gimmick. This manner, you’re reducing superfluous high and low end, ensuring that a full-frequency reverb or delay doesn’t entirely overwhelm the dry signal.
12. EQ DIs and Amps Differently for One Cohesive Sound
This is particularly effective for bass guitar, since the DI sound is already quite good. When it comes to achieving a good balance between the DI and the recorded amplifier, EQing each separately is the way to go. For example, you may high and low pass the DI while solely high passing the amp to highlight its high-end personality.