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10 Tips for a better mix
Friday , 27 September 2013 , 02 : 21 PM

There are countless ways to mix a record; there are no strict rules, just general guidelines that can be changed whenever you feel like you need to! I’ve taken a few tips that I find very useful and listed them below for you to have some kind of starting point for your projects.


1) - Make sure you have a goal in mind, a certain type of sound you’re going for. That helps you to reach the mix you want without much trouble.


2) - It’s often very helpful to work with groups or subgroups (Drums, Instruments, Bass, Vocals, Effects Etc.) You can start mixing the drums, than add the bass, than the vocals, than the instruments (for example), there is no set order for this process. If you have your workflow planned out you will save a lot of time and eventually reach a much cleaner mix because everything is much more organised. 


3) - Routing each of these groups to an individual aux track gives you the chance to control all the vocals, drums, instruments etc. with one fader in case you need to make small volume changes at the end of the mix.


4) EQ - when equalizing in the mix you are going to want to cut out all the unwanted and unneeded frequencies to start with. For example, cut out the low-end from the non-bass elements in the mix to give the kick and bass the space they need. Equalizing is all about giving every element its own space in the mix frequency-wise. Don’t cut out frequencies without listening to the effect it has in the mix, in some situations you might have to cut more / less than other projects.


5) EQ - If possible try to fix problems by cutting with the EQ rather than boosting. Cutting has a much more transparent impact to the signal, it cleans the signal without unwanted depreciation of the sound quality. When you need to boost a frequency there is no reason not to do it, but combining a boost with a cut allows you to get the same result with a smaller boost, but without any quality loss and harshness.


6) Example: Cutting some 300-400Hz out of a dull lead vocal, clears the signal up partially, so at this moment you don’t need to boost as much high frequencies as before. This method gives you a much cleaner vocal without quality-loss or harshness, especially when you’re working in a fully digital environment. When using high-end plugins & outboard gear you can boost more without having to worry about quality loss. But at the end of the day you need to use your ears and listen and pay attention to every change you make and how it affects the audio signal.


7) - Effects - Don’t overdo effects such as reverb & delay, too much of these will cause your mix to clog up and reduce the punch and energy of the mix. The drier the sound, the more upfront it will sound. However, reverb and delay are quite important to make certain elements blend in the mix, for example vocals.


8) - Compression - Don’t overcompress, unless that’s the sound you’re going for. Use compression for a purpose, for example to make the sounds punchier or fatter. Fast attack & release times tend to make sounds “bigger” and “fatter”. While slower attack & release times bring out the punch of the signal. For example compressing the kick with a slower attack time will leave the transients untouched while the “sustain” or “tail” of the kick gets compressed. Boosting the total signal after compressing like this, results in louder transients on the kick (more punch).


9) - Stereo imaging - Don’t pan low frequency elements such as kick / bass to the sides of the stereo spectrum (unless that is the sound you’re going for), these high energy sounds need to be centred for best results. Low frequency elements don’t have a lot of directional information so panning these will only disturb the stereo balance and the master volume in the mastering stage.

In order to have a “wide” mix you can use stereo image enhancers on elements such as pads / synths / reverbs / delays etc. Also backing vocals can be run through stereo imagers to get a wide sounding mix. Don’t overdo stereo enhancement so it doesn’t sound unnatural. However, if you want to have an extreme wide sounding mix nobody can stop you! There are no rules when mixing, just guidelines.


10 ) - Monitoring - Last but not least, don’t monitor too loud, loud monitoring could give you a false perception of the mix, it’s better to mix at a normal listening volume. However it’s fine to check the mix at high volumes from time to time. Also check the mix on different speakers, on headphones as well. Headphones will reveal small sounds and details you might have missed through your monitors.

Written By: Roy "R-skillz" Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskill

Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz ) Make sure you have a goal in mind, a certain type of sound you’re going for. That helps you to reach the mix you want without much trouble.

 

Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf

2) It’s often very helpful to work with groups or subgroups (Drums, Instruments, Bass, Vocals, Effects Etc.) You can start mixing the drums, than add the bass, than the vocals, than the instruments (for example), there is no set order for this process. If you have your workflow planned out you will save a lot of time and eventually reach a much cleaner mix because everything is much more organised.

3) Routing each of these groups to an individual aux track gives you the chance to control all the vocals, drums, instruments etc. with one fader in case you need to make small volume changes at the end of the mix.

4) EQ - when equalizing in the mix you are going to want to cut out all the unwanted and unneeded frequencies to start with. For example, cut out the low-end from the non-bass elements in the mix to give the kick and bass the space they need. Equalizing is all about giving every element its own space in the mix frequency-wise. Don’t cut out frequencies without listening to the effect it has in the mix, in some situations you might have to cut more / less than other projects.

5) EQ - If possible try to fix problems by cutting with the EQ rather than boosting. Cutting has a much more transparent impact to the signal, it cleans the signal without unwanted depreciation of the sound quality. When you need to boost a frequency there is no reason not to do it, but combining a boost with a cut allows you to get the same result with a smaller boost, but without any quality loss and harshness.

6) Example: Cutting some 300-400Hz out of a dull lead vocal, clears the signal up partially, so at this moment you don’t need to boost as much high frequencies as before. This method gives you a much cleaner vocal without quality-loss or harshness, especially when you’re working in a fully digital environment. When using high-end plugins & outboard gear you can boost more without having to worry about quality loss. But at the end of the day you need to use your ears and listen and pay attention to every change you make and how it affects the audio signal.

7) Effects - Don’t overdo effects such as reverb & delay, too much of these will cause your mix to clog up and reduce the punch and energy of the mix. The drier the sound, the more upfront it will sound. However, reverb and delay are quite important to make certain elements blend in the mix, for example vocals.

8) Compression - Don’t overcompress, unless that’s the sound you’re going for. Use compression for a purpose, for example to make the sounds punchier or fatter. Fast attack & release times tend to make sounds “bigger” and “fatter”. While slower attack & release times bring out the punch of the signal. For example compressing the kick with a slower attack time will leave the transients untouched while the “sustain” or “tail” of the kick gets compressed. Boosting the total signal after compressing like this, results in louder transients on the kick (more punch).

9) Stereo imaging - Don’t pan low frequency elements such as kick / bass to the sides of the stereo spectrum (unless that is the sound you’re going for), these high energy sounds need to be centred for best results. Low frequency elements don’t have a lot of directional information so panning these will only disturb the stereo balance and the master volume in the mastering stage.

In order to have a “wide” mix you can use stereo image enhancers on elements such as pads / synths / reverbs / delays etc. Also backing vocals can be run through stereo imagers to get a wide sounding mix. Don’t overdo stereo enhancement so it doesn’t sound unnatural. However, if you want to have an extreme wide sounding mix nobody can stop you! There are no rules when mixing, just guidelines.

- 10 ) Monitoring - Last but not least, don’t monitor too loud, loud monitoring could give you a false perception of the mix, it’s better to mix at a normal listening volume. However it’s fine to check the mix at high volumes from time to time. Also check the mix on different speakers, on headphones as well. Headphones will reveal small sounds and details you might have missed through your monitors.

Written By: Roy "R-skillz" Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz

Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpufccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpufv
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
Written By: Roy “R-skillz” Wehbe
Music Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Twitter/Instagram: @BeatsByRskillz - See more at: http://www.modernproducers.com/blogs/audio-engineering/8457019-the-basics-of-mastering#sthash.YyGbbyIG.dpuf
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