This article is an introduction to mixing technique, some great tips and tricks for helping you to better understand the art of mixing.
From first you need to distinguish between mixing and mastering because it’s a fundamental difference in the techniques and tools used and results.
Audio mixing, generically defined is the process by which multiple sounds from various sources (records, sample CDs / Banks, synthesis, etc.) are combined in one or more audio channels, generally in one stereo. In this process, the sound signal sources, their frequency spectrum, dynamics and panoramic position are controlled in detail. For a better result, technically and creatively, in the process you must add effects like reverb, delay’s, echo, compression (pumping or ducking effect), filtering, and more.
It is important to understand what is the middle of the song. In a pop song, the voice is the most important element if you work on a club song, rhythm and bass club aims to be the most important, and if you work in an ambient piece you want to put emphasis on leads and pads.
There are some general rules that apply in mixing music:
First and most important in my opinion, the golden rule, if you want, is to not touch the MASTER FADER ! From start to finish the mix master fader must remain untouched at 0dB position.
To adjust the listening volume using the knob on the control unit monitors the audio interface or amplifier. If you see clipping on the master must identify the “guilty sound” and reduce his volume (and probably all other tracks).
This is just a personal preference, it’s my golden rule.
I noticed that it’s better to work at mixing at a fairly low volume, and this for two reasons.
1. You need to understand how the human ear perceive sounds (physical). How man hears certain frequencies in relation to others is influenced by the volume you hear those sounds. When you listen a song it will sound good at high volume and at low volume sounds soft, stupid and flat. If you can make the mix sound good at low volume, it will sound better in strong volume.
2. The second reason for recommending that mixing to be maded at low volume is that the human ear gets tired quickly when we are forced to listen loud music for long periods of time. The result is the inability to make sound decisions based on what we hear.
The only cure for this ear fatigue, is to take a break and I’m not talking a few minutes, but a break for hours.
Therefore, I recommend to mix at low volume and only sometimes rise the volume to figure just for a few moments, when you want to do a comparison.
Mixing The Drum Instruments
For many, the most difficult part in the process of mixing is to “reconcile” kicks with basses. When this drum and bass will not fit the same sound spectrum and would “choke” the result will be a weak mix, stupid and flat.
That is because the kicks and basses are the largest energy instruments and can easily escape from your control. This aspect is addressed, ideally at the stage of composition and production. If we know that the bass will be very low (with many low frequencies, say below 70-80Hz mostly) like a sub-bass, then choose a kick sound with less low frequency (100-120Hz).
Another option is to use equalization to make drum and bass sit well together in the mix. Generally I tend to eliminate the frequency range below 30Hz for kick and bass.
If we want a distorted bass, we can use lower kicks, like the 808.
Article’s theoretical approach is intentionally generic to be easily understood by as many people, no matter what program or tools used.
Also you can read: Behind the Audio Mastering Process – Tips and Tricks