Mixing Tips

02005-05-06 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

1. Switch between listening loud and very soft. If your mix only works when you crank it up, it is a bad mix. I have heard so many times from people that one needs to hear their music loud because it has so many layers. That is simply a silly excuse for a bad mix. If you lose layers when you listen at low volume, maybe you are not using the entire width. We don’t live in the age of vinyl anymore, when you had to put the bass and kick in the center because otherwise they could not be reproduced. I like to put Jon’s bass to the left (at about 14-20 on the ProTools scale) and the kick on the right. Why? Dunno, just sounds good to me to hear the bass slightly left. Or maybe you are not using depth enough. Think landscape… some elements are closer and others further away. Putting everything at the same distance clutters the space. Depth is very important for recordings. You can play around with two different elements of depth. One is the volume of the instrument and the other is the amount of reverb added to it. Side-note: I prefer close-miking for most instruments because that gives me more choices for the mix. Otherwise I have to fight the natural reverb that was recorded in case I want the instrument to appear closer…

2. Keep switching between a 2.1 system which uses stereo speakers plus a sub-woofer, and a regular stereo field with relatively small speakers. Both will handle bass very differently. Will your mix work on both? Sometimes enough bass for a small speaker is way too much bass for a system with subwoofers.

3. Listen to your mix in a car. The engine will soak up a lot of the bass. Does it still sound good? Now roll down a window. Can you hear the melody over the wind-noise? I know a studio that specializes in mixing for film and they ran into a problem at one point with their rooms being too quiet. When they tested the film in a regular theater the dialog couldn’t be heard clearly, because a movie theater is a noisy place. People moving around, the airconditioning fans etc… Solution: they play white noise when mixing – in order to mix the dialog above the noise. The open car window will do the same thing for your music.

5 Comments

  1. Adam Solomon

    You are a bona fide genius. You’ve addressed just about every problem people usually have when listening to music–why can’t more people do that? :)

    Reply
  2. Curt

    Priceless information! I love reading about how artists mix their music. I’ve been experimenting with mixing in headphones. I listen to commerical CDs of similar styles and note the placement of the instruments, mix, eq, etc., and then try to emulate those qualities when i mix.

    Reply
  3. Eno

    One trick I heard about was to roll-off the low end around 80-100hz. This will clean up the bottom end and have more focus on the mid-range.

    And thanks for the tip. My mixes can be all over the place sometimes.

    Reply
  4. Tyler Love

    This can be the most fun and most frusterating times when mixing music. I typically start rolling off the lows at 40hz and by 30hz not much really exists, the reason being is in my music anything that low is usually just warble from electric guitar noise or stuff that doesn’t need to be there.

    There are countless tips-tricks for mixing that you really only appreciate and understand until you get your hands dirty with them

    Reply
  5. Andrew

    Another good technique is to listen to the mix from different rooms. Just start the mix and walk around. From this perspective you will hear the midrange and how prominant it is in the mix. I read this years ago and it made a tremendous difference on my mixes and not hollowing out the vocals.

    Reply

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