Insight to some mixing concepts we use here at MixButton that could help you achieve a better end product.
1st - Initial Thoughts
Simply scribble down your initial mixing thoughts on pen and paper while listening for the first time, for example what direction you feel you want the track to go in. Write down how you want each verse - chorus to make you feel.
This is a simple idea that is often overlooked and is a great way of laying down your instincts for the track, instead of figuring out what you want half way through a mix.
There is only one chance for a first impression therefore you must capture your ideas from the start.
2nd - Mono Image
Many of us want to get the mix sounding good as soon as possible, but mixing is gradual. A swift pan to the side often misleads your ear into thinking the respective instrument sounds cleaner that it is. This is because the sound is no longer competing with other instruments for a frequency space.
Without disrupting your individual tracks, temporarily set the output bus in mono and then make a start on EQ.
As they are all bunched together you will find it harder when treating them and so will have to be more precise.
After you are happy that your different sounds are working well together, flip the final output back to stereo and you will hear a lot more clarity in your mix.
3rd - Fine Automation
It is important to remember that the aim of music is to make people feel something, as that is the design of the artist. A big draw back of many audio mixers is that the sections do not really move with each other and so the listener does not connect with the track as one would hope.
Fine automation manually or via fader riding, is crucial to bringing out many instruments especially legato style sounds and notes, e.g. strings or voice.
The performer certainly also has the responsibility to give the recording movement and dynamics, however it is also in the interest of the music mixer to bring that to the listener’s ear.
4th - Output Bus Cleaning
This tip is for when you feel like you are approaching the end of your mixing and deals with final frequency disruptions or inconsistencies.
Place a linear EQ on the output bus and select a high pass or low pass filter. The idea with this is to isolate the high or low frequencies. E.g. a low pass at around 300hz would give you a good idea of how the bottom end of your mix is sounding and if there are any clashing instruments that you need to address. The same applies to the high-end.
5th – 1db or not db
Even the great Shakespeare was troubled with the concept of mixing and chose to express this through Hamlet.
What he found was that a song mix is rarely transformed with one special click or a secret switch that transforms the mix suddenly. Rather the little things treating individual parts culminating in an overall better sounding mix.
It is important to be patient with your precision many small changes make a big difference.
We hope you enjoyed this article and hopefully it gives you a little insight on how we work here at MixButton (www.mixbutton.com).
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