The Power Of Mix Buss Plugins (One Song One Month Challenge 5/8)

| Audio Example, Mixing, One Song One Month Challenge 2016, Plugins, Tips, Video

If there was a way you could get a better mix in less time and with fewer plugins would you be interested?

The secret is what I call Top Down Mixing. By simply strapping a few strategic plugins across your entire mix, you can get closer to that finished sound in just a few short minutes.

This also frees up precious CPU horsepower while at the same time gives you a more holistic (read “listener’s”) view of your mix. Trust me, once you start Top Down Mixing, you’ll have a hard time going back.

Can I Do This With Stock Plugins?

Invariably I get this question, “Can I do top down mixing with my DAW’s stock plugins?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding “Yes!” The key to what I’m showing today is not WHAT plugins I’m using, but what I’m DOING with them.

Start with your DAW’s 5 or 7 band EQ on your master fader, and sculpt the sound like I did in the video. Make sure you level match the output so when you bypass the plugin, the volume doesn’t change.

Then grab a compressor and follow my recommended mix buss compression settings in the video. Remember, just a touch of compression here.

Finally, look for any saturation style plugin that comes with your DAW. This kind of plugin isn’t required, it just adds a touch of character and depth to the mix that I find pleasing. Don’t have one included? There are plenty of free ones out there in both VST and Pro Tools AAX formats.

Are You Starting On Top?

So as we begin week 3 of the One Song One Month Challenge (mixing week), I want to challenge you to start your mix on the top level, the master fader.

So let me (and the community) know below – have you mixed with Top Down Mixing before? If so, how does it compare to mixing on the individual tracks first?

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98 Responses to “The Power Of Mix Buss Plugins (One Song One Month Challenge 5/8)”

  1. Andrew

    Hey! Great stuff! man have I come a long way just since the beginning of this challenge. I’m already in the mixing phase and while starting that phase I EQ everything compressed it, rendered the vocals and then decided to scrap everything. My mix just wasn’t sounded how I wanted it to, so I took away all my plugins and started fresh. Turns out, I was adding too much! EQ boosting, I didn’t really grasp compression well until I started messing around with it but now I feel very comfortable with it.

    So instead of having 5 plug-ins to try and make certain things sound present and just full I am not using, I believe, a maximum of 3 and it is just EQ compression, and slight reverb. I’d say that my mix improved by 80% for sure. With this Top Down mix bus technique I hope that it will improve my mix even more! Thank you Graham. I don’t think I’d be where I am now without the help from your videos!

    Reply
    • Fezzler

      I always find this too. In fact, this year. After years of watching all these EQ/Compression/Plug-in videos and lessons, I’ve learned to get the sound close when recording and you need WAY fewer and more subtle use of plug-ins (unless you are using them for a specific effect or sound.) I especially discovered this with reverb and delay – can make a song muddy fast.

      Reply
      • Shawn

        Hello, very helpful tips for sure…..

        Totally not relevant but i hope maybe some more advise for outboard gear like external reverb, EQ, and hooking up rack patch inserts to go from inside the box out and back in…
        i have some good old units i would like to use but am confused how to get this working ..
        Thx Graham..been following for a long time !!!!

        Reply
    • David A. Marks

      In another one of Grahm’s videos he makes two statements that we’re really helpful for me too. He talked about using plug-ins like a chisel not a jack hammer (the jackhammer part might be me, I don’t know if he said that). The other was (Dave Pensado says this too) lots of little moves that all add up to the big result.

      I used to think that there was going to be one move or one plug-in that was going to make all the difference. Even when that myth was dispelled I still was making terribly dramatic moves thinking it was helping. I finally, after hearing it over and over got it. Plug-ins help sculpt, little moves over the mix add up to something worth listening too.

      Thought I would share my experience to validate yours. We’re on the right track.

      Reply
  2. Ryan Van Slooten

    Not quite ready to mix, but close, a day or two of recording away. By using your methods, I’ve learned a much more efficient way to work though, which takes a lot of stress out of the process when you know where you’re going next. I am intrigued to try the tape simulator idea as well. Better get to it!

    Reply
    • Justin

      No! I think the point of top down mixing is to use that subtle EQ, Compression, and Saturation on ALL of the tracks, saving CPU and mixing time. If you were to remove the plugins on the mix bus, it would completely change the sound you just created. You should still have relatively the same output volume on your mix bus as you did without processing, so there would still be plenty of headroom for mastering. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Giorgio Gobbo

    Awesome stuff,

    This is the most useful approach to mixing that i have ever got, especially if we also have the different submits like lets say : Drums, Guitars, Bass, Keys, vocals for example, after tweaking the mixbus if any other tweaking is needed to maybe enhance the sections will bring the mix further with less plugins, I’ve tried this on a mix where i had to separate with eq keyboards and guitars and i basically just had to slap an eq on the submixes, and in the end separate instruments within the submix on the audio tracks.
    Less processing, less plugins, more natural sound and clear mixes, less effort aswell (I’m a pretty lazy person who wants results very fast if not i’ll get bored very fast and lose temper very fast)

    This approach is the ideal for me!

    Thanks Graham for all the awesome content every week, is getting me more and more results very fast!

    Reply
  4. Joshua Hall

    Graham,

    Very nice! Cool to hear all that you have added since the last video.

    I am currently mastering my song of the month and producing my YouTube video for my channel. I don’t have any of the tape emulation or sonic maximizer kinds of plug ins. I get everything from my EQs, Compressors, Reverbs, Delay, and I do use a Softube tube emulator plug in (usually on my bass sounds).

    Thanks for letting us watch you work!!

    Josh

    Reply
  5. Newton Carneiro

    Hi Graham,
    My name is Newton Carneiro, from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
    I am a musician and free time producer, and also one of your followers.
    I am trying to produce a song under your suggestion and today is voice recording day. Also I have just watched your movie about mix bus and so far my instruments already have a lot of plugins. I am thinking of not render them unless necessary in the mix. Did you render (consolidate) your drums?
    Thank you for your classes. They have been so helpful for me since I first took contact with Recording Revolution two years ago.
    Best regards
    Newton

    Reply
  6. Nigel Thompson

    Another well spent 15 min break at work watching this latest instalment.
    You really do have a great way of just getting to the point without alienating anyone and getting the creative juices flowing. I really appreciate the time you you put into this and all you do for us out here.

    Reply
  7. Alex

    Great concept! It takes a certain strength of character, though, not to jump right in and start tweaking snares and guitars before dealing with the big picture.

    For those who use vst plugins and can’t afford the Slate stuff, the Variety of Sound website (varietyofsound.wordpress.com) has a great free tape saturation plugin called FerricTDS. Actually, pretty much everything there is very nice (and free).

    Reply
  8. Jim

    Hey Graham,

    I’m not quite to the mixing phase yet. I need to record vocals but hit a snag with a bout of bronchitis. I’m almost 100% and will tackle vocals in the next day or so. What I’ve learned through this process is that having a schedule and deadline leads to more productive sessions in the studio. I think you have to eliminate the perfectionist within yourself to a certain extent and rely more on your first instincts but in doing so, you end up getting good results. At least that’s been the case with me. I’m really enjoying this challenge. Hope you are well.

    Jim

    Reply
  9. Russ

    I’ve been using the top down mixing approach ever since going through Graham’s Rethink Mixing series. It provides early big wins and helps keep things steadily moving forward. Now I look forward to the mixing process instead of dreading it!

    Reply
  10. Martin Weeks

    Hi Graham,

    Actually I’ve been doing this (similar) for a while now. There are dozens of videos out there saying don’t get into the Mastering Phase till the mix is right. This is a throw back of course to the days of tape recording where you HAD to do it this way (as you explained earlier as well)

    However, I’ve had issues when doing things the “Old Way” as I would work real hard on the mixes than start doing the mastering (using stock master effects chains as a start point) only to find everything was waaayyyyyy to out of line and have to start over again.

    So I’ve been doing some basic (not elaborate) plugins to the Master Bus as a kind of reference thing. Listen to the mix with the compression in and saturation (thanks for the tip on the free slate plugin in by the way) and of course EQ. If the mix didn’t sound right just turn off the effects in the bus…tinker with the tracks for a bit then listen with both Mstr effects on and off like in the video.

    I find doing it this way is a major time saver as I will catch my mistakes faster and correct in the mix and the over all sound improves as I go through the work flow.

    This is no disrespect to folks like Pensado, and Ian Shepherd but when I’m balancing my days between this, another business venture and a regular clock punch job…workflow is very important to me. If I’m to keep up with the massive numbers of A&R submissions, I have to produce product/catalog.

    So thanks for corroborating what I’ve been doing. Had a feeling I was going about this the right way but not sure as the “Experts” always say NOT TO DO THIS. Peace!

    Marty

    Reply
  11. Kelvin

    Hey Graham thanks for the top down lesson
    I just want to say you’ve taught me so many ways to attack and sculpt mixes. That I’m stuck on which way is better. I’m afraid to fail. All my mixes will go to be mastered somewhere so I want it to be minus 3b as u taught but I want it full and loud. I find my self sometimes over doing the eq. I see in the video when u added the plugins u would turn the output down. I think that’s what I’m missing. Thanks again

    Reply
  12. Udi

    Excellent approach. Love it.
    Thank you for this series. I’m a bit behind due to unplanned pause.. but hope to still make it to the finish line.

    Reply
  13. Bas

    Loving the challenge so far!
    Not ready to mix yet unfortunately. Most instruments recorded and an evening freed up to record the vocals. The fixed deadline is really driving the decisions I make. I can’t just keep adding layers so I need to prioritize and only record what contributes to the song the most. I cheated a little with my guitar parts though. With this schedule I had no time to rehearse enough so that I could play it in one take. So instead I just recorded parts and edited everything together. Hopefully my vocals will come out good enough. No time for two sessions this week…

    Reply
  14. Kurt

    I’m still working on recording parts. My sounds are ok, just not happy with my performances. I do mix bus compression and tape sims. Usually not eq. I tend to mix as I record so one sound can build off the last one. I do use busses for each instrument group though. And I’ll start with plugs on those and work backwards to individual instruments as needed. Especially with drums. Using a certain method is good, as long as it’s not dogmatic. Whatever works, works.

    Reply
  15. A.Meadows

    A lot of it I’m already doin. I dnt have the plugins u have, but I try hard. Gotta get on slate.com. If u got any way to send them to me that would be estatical. So keep me in mind, bn mixing bout ten yrs. I really need them plugins bro. Thanks u have made my experience grow ten fold.

    Reply
  16. Fezzler

    My takeaway as a home recording hobbyist wanting to get more songs done for fun and learning is to go slow to go fast. What I mean is I tend to try and complete a song front to end in a few sessions. So maybe I didn’t think and listen enough to each track characteristic and then had a mess when final mixing came along.

    The challenge demonstrated for me a nice paced process that gives each phase of songwriting and recording (for an amateur) the right amount of thought (Go Slow) so when mixing time does come, it is easier and I can focus on making song better and not fixing stuff all over the place (Go Fast).

    I still have a lot to learn. Vocals are my downside as I am not a singer. I will also say making progress, I seem to be discovering how important arrangement is too.

    This has been fun.

    Reply
  17. Curic

    Thanks for sharing. Just finishing up my mix and wishing I had started with something like this on my mix bus, as I ended up with quite a few plug-ins.
    I´m reading a book about mixing and in it they say that we should keep our low-end clean by basically high-pass filtering each and every track. What are your thoughts on that?

    Thank you.

    Reply
  18. Juni Devecais

    Falling behind O_o Using electronic elements, so taking a bit longer choosing the correct elements to compliment the song. Will hopefully get to the mixing by this weekend.
    Love how you always simplify everything, Graham. Helps me keep my head on straight and to stay focussed. Loving your track!

    Cheers!

    Reply
  19. Nathan Smith

    So helpful. I’m working on some tracks right now and running out of CPU. I need to do this for sure.

    Reply
  20. Timothy Mendoza

    Another great video Graham. (As a total noob) I have never tried this before and it might just be a time saver that can help me since I am trying to complete this challenge in such a short time frame. I promised that I would start vloging about this and here’s the first video. My drummer is coming over today to record the drum tracks. I’ll try to post the second video tonight if I can. Thanks again challenging all of us and lighting a fire!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgaQ95ZiQRg

    Reply
  21. Milton

    Hi Graham
    Very Nice video, I´m just thinking start my mix with 10 minutes technique, then I´m going to apply this new technique, I Hope listen my song as soon as possible, thank you

    Reply
  22. Jan

    Hey Graham,
    I’ve just tried this for the first time on my recent song and I just love it! I am used to doing some mixbuss processing at the end of the process but this is for sure much more efficient (and more clever, I think) way to use it…thanks for the great tip!
    btw. the song’s catchy as hell…I’ve been singing “God, I believe…” for the whole evening (writing from Europe)!!:-D

    Reply
  23. Matt

    I’m on the mix phase now but am going to reverse what I’ve done and start with this video’s process! I can’t wait to hear how much better I can make it sound going about it using this method!

    Thanks Graham!

    Reply
  24. Tim Luxter

    Hi Graham

    Great stuff as always! I am actually following along too! Half way through a new song called ‘Stay With Me’, kind of EDM meets Jamie Cullum vibe.

    Anyway, I was wondering if you might have any tips of writing vocals? I loved your tip with basslines — sticking to the kick– I use it every time now, even on live sets with my loop pedal. I just wondered if you have any techniques you often find yourself tapping into when starting on the vocal melody?

    As a last note, the reason I’m asking you for writing tips is because this “God I Believe” song has been stuck in my head for days! Honestly, it’s awesome mate. Congrats!

    Thanks for inspiring me back into my craft buddy

    Tim

    Reply
    • Graham

      Thanks Tim! As far as vocal melodies go – they just come to me quickly. One of my stronger points of songwriting.

      Reply
    • Anthony Hunsche

      Hey Tim, one principle I keep in mind when writing lyrics and vocal melodies is to ‘preserve the natural shape of the language’. Pitch is built into language, and it’s often best to have the vocal melody’s high and low notes match up with the inflections you would use when speaking the phrase in conversation. Same with stressed syllables, having them line up on downbeats or syncopated beats can make the lyrics and vocals sound more natural/conversational, if that’s what you’re going for at least!

      Reply
  25. Engineer101

    Graham, thanks so far! I think that by adding the bus processing you gained little but lost a lot. If you listen again with those three effects on and off, you will notice that when they are off, the mix has more clearity, stereo depth and natural emotion. With the effects on, the high end tightened up in a bad way and there is less sound source separation in the mix. I think you should take those effects off in the chorus. Try it, I guarantee it works!!

    Reply
    • Andrew MacDonald

      Really? To me, the drums are much more presence, especially the kick, the vocals are more upfront and the guitar also has more presence with an open sound. With everything off it sounds farther away, boxed in and muffled. I couldn’t hear the kick to well either. At least thats what I hear.

      Reply
  26. sam n

    im on the mixing stage but may need to re record vocals… iv become more confidant in my workflow this past month!

    Reply
  27. Gary Taylor

    Hi Graham, I’m still in the game! I have a mix and I’ve found by getting better recordings I have a better mix just after setting fader levels. I was already using some EQ before I watched this installment so I will go back to it tomorrow and start afresh. I’m picking up lots of pointers, no single thing.
    So, record better sounds to mix better and lighter on the plug-ins, trust my DAW and it’s plug-ins, throw away my procrastination and perfectionism and complete a song, even of it isn’t the best…
    thanks for taking the time with us.

    Reply
  28. alexander

    at first i was a little confused on how this work till i remembered on your last video you used audio suite and process individual tracks before hand this defiently is a different way to mixing…..really helpful

    Reply
  29. Michael Jensen

    Graham, this always really intrigues me. I do my best with top-down mixing using Garage Band. They have a “Master Track” but no way to do mix bus at all. So I start by applying some processing on the “Master track” or master bus.

    Unfortunately I cannot do any mix bus processing in Garage Band. Saving up to hopefully buy Logic for my birthday.

    Reply
    • Georg

      Have you tried to use “Smart Controls” (and the i-Symbol there) on the Master Track?
      But anyway – Logic is totally worth it (once you’ve got it), but until then Garage Band can do a pretty good job, I think. 🙂

      Reply
  30. Bobby Zurek

    The vid information vid is ok … For us mix and master engineers we don’t always have the luxury to be delicate with mixes such as your doing… You are working with a mix that seems to have been carefully crafted when recorded … And what your doing is fine… But in the real world of mixing it’s not always like this… Sometimes you have to really make the tracks submit to your will and do things that are unconventional and not pretty to get the desired results … There needs to be more real world examples on how to fix than pretty up a mix. I will be starting a site to do exactly this!!

    Reply
  31. Jimmy Smith

    Hi there,
    Your tune sounds great and I like the song.
    I am in the mixing phase but have found that I will have to redo the vocal and the lead guitar in a couple of spots. I also use most track enhancements on the buss as I have taken the time to get the performance and tonality into the daw at the time of recording.
    I have learned that the most important thing is the quality of the raw capture. Spend time getting to know your space and move the mic around.
    As always thanks for being there and doing this.

    JS

    Reply
  32. Don Groscost

    Hi Graham,

    Great series…one question about mix bus plug ins. They work great, really put some hair on a mix of mine. The question is many master engineers ask for a clean master bus with no plugins. I understand why but then the whole vibe of the song can change. What do they do, rebuild it to sound like the mix you send. Sorry this is confusing to me.

    Thanks,

    Don

    Reply
  33. Grayson Peddie

    For new age music, slight, subtle moves are not my kind, so in Harrison Mixbus (I’m running Linux), I started using built-in EQ, pan, and compressor to shape the sound the way I want it, so to me, there is no such thing as “do as little harm as possible.” Well, except a handful of symphonic instruments such as violin, french horn, and clarinet.

    My song is finished and ready to be submitted, so where can I submit my song to you?

    Reply
  34. Matthew Yates

    Hello Graham I’m really enjoying the videos that you take time out to bless us with. I was really interested in how to set up the mix buss for my projects. In one of the previous videos you inspired me to go back and re-sing, and clean up the vocals for a song I plan on releasing once the remixes come back from a few producers that I requested to do a remix for the package I plan on releasing. I thank you so much for showing me how and when to use the tape emulator. I have the Kramer Tape and the JJ37 Tape emulators. I never used them because I didn’t know when, where, or how to apply them to my mix. I do have a song that I’m following along with you on for this song in 30 days project. I’m going to apply what’s taught in this video from now on. I truly appreciate you taking out your time to record these videos. Your work is not in vain. I salute you, and appreciate you. You’ve brought me a long way. Thank you, Thank you,Thank you.

    Reply
  35. Marco Castellanos

    Hey Graham!

    Congratulations your song is already sounding so good!

    I was wondering if you processed in any way EzDrummer2 in your mix, or did you left it the way it sounded from the very beginning, I’m asking because your drums sound really good!!!!

    Thanks for answering!

    Reply
      • Marco Castellanos

        Wouuuu, really!!!! Awesome! Thanks for answering Graham, and by the way, thank you so much for every thing you have done for us, you are an awesome educator, a very giving mentor and incredible friend!!! God bless you more and more every day!

        By the way, I bought your song, it’s amazing, and the message had blessed me greatly, I’ve been struggling with my finances and your song brought comfort and hope to my soul, thank you dear friend.

        Mark.

        Reply
  36. JohnMatthewWillis

    I was done with my song for January, but I have been learning a lot and plan on going back and implementing these mixing techniques. Thanks for helping us make more music. This has been the push I needed!

    Reply
  37. David A. Marks

    I have my track recorded and arranged. Working on lyrics. I was kinda hoping for a video on your writing process; picking melody and how you go about that. I usually get stuck, I have a hard time keeping it simple. Needless to say, I want that interface so regardless I’ll submit what I got!

    Reply
  38. John

    Hi Graham
    How do I know when I am finished? My song is pretty simple – first time writing and recording a song, so it is just electric guitar, bass, drums and some vocals. I can hear what I want to hear, and it doesn’t sound horrible. Actually caught my fourteen year old son humming the riff…
    This has been on my bucket list for a while, guess I will have to expand my horizons.
    Thanks so much for your work, teaching and inspiration.
    Loved the experience!
    John

    Reply
  39. Nathan

    Shalom Graham,
    This is an awesome challenge (although I haven’t only stuck to just recording 1 tune!!).
    Sounding awesome!
    Ever since buying your mixing course a couple of years ago I’ve been employing the top down mixing. Makes life easier because it pushes your ears listen to the overall sound more intently.
    Thanks for all you do mate!
    😀

    Reply
  40. Danny

    I am having a lot of fun following this challenge. I discover myself as a musician with my strengths and weaknesses. And most important: this helps me actually finishing my projects!

    Reply
  41. Geoff Kabzinski

    Hi Graham,
    I’m radically challenged in ALL areas on this song. I should have come up with an easier one but it’s a good stretch. My wife usually does main Vox as my voice is only good for BV’s but I’m exploring and trying to “polish the turd”. Hence it’s taking longer for me. Another 3 to 5 days I should be finished tracking and editing ready for mixing.
    Thanks to your Rethink mixing course this should flow fairly smooth. I will only be using stock plugs in Studio one 3 as I don’t own bought ones yet , doing ok so far though.
    My biggest learning curve on this song is writing the melody, vocals and singing myself. Also I found a friend who will swap, his drumming in my song for my mixing 1 of his songs. The challenge will be tracking drums with just 4 inputs on my Presonus AudioBox 44VSL. (this is where I start dreaming of 16 high end channels just like everyone else here)
    Thanks heaps Graham, I appreciate.

    Reply
  42. Aleksander Ilievski

    Hey!

    Recording revolution is really a revolution. It has changed my mixing patterns, made it more “easy” and fast. I am done with my song, mix and master. I couldn’t wait! Is there somewhere to send the song? I really want to hear what you think.

    Aleksander

    Reply
  43. ZION IRIE

    I HAVE ONLY HEARD ABOUT TOP DOWN MIXING FROM YOU …GRAHAM…..AND I PROMISED MYSELF…I WILL TRY IT ON ANY NEW MUSIC I DO FOR 2016……..YOU KNOW OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW!!!I HAVE ALREADY STARTED THE MIXING PROCESS…OR AT LEAST EXPERIMENTING WITH SETTINGS.I DID A QUICK BOUNCE AND TESTED IT ON VARIOUS FORMATS….NOT TO BAD,STILL GOT FINAL VOCALS TO DO:I HAD DONE A RUFF VOCAL JUST TO TEST THE OVERALL MIX AND TO MAKE SURE THE ARRANGEMENT IS OK,BUT WHAT I HAVE DECIDED TO DO IS…TO DO IS COPY THE WHOLE PROJECT AND MIX FROM SCRATCH….USING YOUR TOP DOWN MIXING METHOD… AND THEN A/B COMPARISON .WHAT THIS CHALLENGE HAS SHOWN ME OF MYSELF IS THAT I AM MORE DISCIPLINED THAN I FIRST THOUGHT(I THINK I COULD QUITE EASILY DO 1 & HALF TO 2 SONGS A MONTH)I THINK ITS NEARLY A WEEK AGO I DONE THE TEST MIX SO I AHEAD OF TIME I THINK……BUT I THINK MOST OF ALL …MY CONFIDENCE AND SELF BELIEF IN BEING ABLE TO DO ALL BY MYSELF WITH NO TRAINING AT ALL IS AT ITS HIGHEST ITS EVER BEEN ,I AM NATURALLY A SINGER (SELF TAUGHT AGAIN )..I WAS FORCED INTO HAVING TO DO MUSIC FOR MYSELF,I USE TO JAM WITH A BAND YEARS AGO…..AND THEY DEALT WITH ALL THOSE THINGS,IN COMPARISON…WITH MY PEERS……I STARTED LATE(38/40)…ALOT OF CATCHING UP HAHAHA. ANYWAY THE LAST FEW YEARS(SINCE JOINING RECORD REVOLUTION)I THINK 3YRS NOW…..I HAVE LEARNT MUCH MORE SINCE BEING ON THIS PATH 10+YRS …THANK YOU AND BLESS… I CAN NOW COMPETE A BIT BETTER…WITH OTHERS WITHIN MY GENRE……GOD BLESS YOU GRAHAM FOR SHARING YOUR GIFT

    Reply
  44. Phil

    hi graham

    thanks for the mix advice — i noticed you have the EZDrummer tracks separated out in this video whereas previously they were not — can you show us how you did that and are the drum tracks rendered at this stage?

    I am pretty much on course with the song – will be caught up to the mixing phase later this week.

    cheers

    Pihl

    Reply
  45. Michael Jensen

    Well, I have all of the tracking done and have begun the mix phase.

    I started with a bit of top down mixing by adding some plugins to the master track and then began trying to tighten the original tracks. I’m still pretty new at this. This will be the first song that I’ve ever actually finished. I’ve started before, gotten frustrated and given up. But this will be the first song I will actually finish and release. So that’s exciting.

    What have I learned about myself? I’ve learned that I REALLY need to give my ears some rest time. A few times I’ve thought “This is awesome! It’s almost done already!” and then I come back to it later and hear all kinds of problems.

    But so far I’ve gotten a lot farther with this song than any other I’ve ever done on my own.

    Reply
  46. michael

    Im so busy recording multiple projects I cant take part in your song challenge,however,Your tutorials are SUCH A GREAT HELP,THANK YOU SO MUCH. Im recording DAN BRUBECK next week im a little nervous.I just got a RAVEN MT2 so far its awesome.THANX AGAIN FOR DOING WHAT YOU DO !!!!!!!

    Reply
  47. Bryan Vanderhill

    I’m on track! Starting to mix. I like how everything is coming together. I think I’ve learned more in the past 6 months than I did in the first 10 years I was messing around with this stuff.
    Appreciate all you do, Graham, as well as the great commentary in these replies.

    Reply
  48. Douglas M

    Howdy Graham,

    Great stuff! I’ve been using the “Top Down” technique for years! It helps one to get a nice overall picture of the sound scape before you even get into final mix…and then mastering. Need to tweak a track…no problem. You go back to the track(s) in question and work it. With “Top Down” since you have a better idea as to your creative and technical direction, it becomes easier to tweak individual tracks. Nice! See ya on the flip flop…and thanks. 🙂

    Reply
  49. Chuck T.

    I did a “top down mix” on my basic tracks (without eq or effects on the individual tracks) seems like a ‘cut to the chase’ if the individual tracks need very little ‘massaging’. I used Sonar stock plug-ins and Waves Kramer tape I saved those settings and may use them later when the tracking is completed.
    I’m not as far as I want to be on the song so I made a list of things earlier today I need to address before I can mix. Whole structure complete; Drums, bass, rhythm guitars, scratch vocal. Haven’t decided on other instruments I may add for “color”. I need to add background vocals.
    Thanks Graham for all your help. It’s nice to look at recording/mixing in different ways and not get lost in the process or worse not getting songs completed.

    Reply
  50. lo.mo

    Hey Graham, Had a dream we shared some nachos and bean dip. 😀

    Anyway, your song is sounding great, but try speeding it up to 140-145 and see how it feels.

    Reply
    • Graham

      Mmmm. I could go for some nachos right now. This Whole 30 eating plan is killing me in the Nacho department!

      Reply
  51. WalterMelons

    got a really good mix. but i feel like my song is crappy… need some arranging..

    Reply
  52. Martin A

    Hey!

    This challenge has made me want to record more of my own lately. Can’t remember really how many ideas I actually have in my head. Awesome small tips and tricks that has done me thinking of other ways to record myself.
    Involved my friends and family to get new ideas as well. Hoping to manage the song in 30 days. Have come a long way in little time (at least for me).
    Many thanks from Sweden!

    Reply
  53. Craig

    Thanks for the videos Graham! I’m still tracking but sometimes I’ll take a break and just play with the mix. Unlike your tune I’m working on an all instrumental guitar song. I’m just using my MacBook Pro and GarageBand. So.. there is not a mixing console per se or buses. I’m sticking with GB for now but I’m really itching to get Logic Pro. I had it on my old Mac and loved it. Love the Slate and Waves plugins. They’re on my wish list too! It’d be interesting to hear everyone’s songs when they are finished. How are you going to set that up?

    Reply
  54. Lorenz Stanze

    Hi Graham,

    l have been wondering for a while, why to always make sure that the mix won´t get louder after EQ or compression and dialing the volume back? These moves add up in time. Shouldn´t we be fine if we´d just watch the gain of of the master fader for not clipping?

    I love top down mixing and always process from master – group tracks – individual tracks.

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • Norman

      If I may; GAIN STAGING!
      When done correctly you have started by establishing the optimal gain levels in all your individual tracks.
      Every move that you then make that changes the optimal channel gain levels will lead to a sub optimal gain structure and overall sound quality in the end; sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes very apparent.
      Not to mention that volume differences make it difficult to judge whether the processing is really improving the sound or not.

      Regards,

      Reply
      • Wade

        Yes, he was careful to not add any volume. What a cool discipline, you HAVE to keep the gain from increasing! It has a lovely reverse logic to it. I shall commence to try it now on this month’s DM content. 🙂

        Reply
  55. Howard

    Thanks, Graham. I am very grateful for all you offer and do to help your students. Thanks so much for the freely given training. It’s almost unbelievable how subtle changes with EQ and compression can have such a dramatic impact on the final mix. A song a month is another great idea.

    Reply
  56. Blaise

    Thanks, Graham! I’ve really been enjoying the challenge. Starting fresh with a new song to follow along through the steps and tips has really helped me see where in the past I’ve set myself up for problems later. Have a tendency to think that things can be cleaned up in later steps that need to get taken care of as you go along. I’ve been keeping up, I’m mixing, and it’s definitely been a lot easier to mix (just the kind of little moves you talk about). Thanks again. It’s been a great new year’s resolution and I’m looking forward to the homestretch.

    Reply
  57. Wade

    Graham! What a great demonstration! Also, I’m hearing some really interesting stuff in the background of your song. Once again, I’m diggin’ this place where you are. KUTGW. Keep it up! – W

    Reply
  58. Anthony Hunsche

    I’m actually still spending time on the arrangement and instrument tracks at this point, and mixing as I go, for better or worse!
    https://youtu.be/t3gqUUmFifw
    Another thing I’m realizing with this challenge is how much more passion and enthusiasm I have for composition, arrangement, and ideas over editing and mixing. I mean, I knew that before, but by doing the challenge publicly I realized I was fine with being seen as the guy who rushed through the mix at the last minute because he spent all his time trying to go the extra mile writing and arranging the best song he could.

    Reply
  59. Daniel Scarsella

    I like this top down thing. I’ve always waited until the individual tracks were taken of. This is an interesting way to work. The accountabilty of this challenge really makes you get in to gear quickly (not the GAS kind). Thanks for that.

    Reply
  60. KD

    Hi Graham,
    I’m quite happy with my Mix so far, can’t wait to let the World listen to this track, I believe guyz yours too are getting there good sounding tracks, LET’S DO THIS GUYS!!!

    Thanks!!!
    Graham you’re the one of the Best

    Reply
  61. Anthony

    Hi Graham , great mentor. Is waves vitamin a good replacement for revival? Thank you Anthony

    Reply

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