When you near the end of a mix, sometimes you feel that it’s missing something and you can’t quite put your finger on it. Today I want to show you my favorite little mix buss EQ trick that I use on just about every mix as it nears completion. In one simple move it cleans up the mix while also pushing vocals and snare drums just up a bit more to the listener. Enjoy!
Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the US and it’s a day we gather together to focus on the many blessings in our lives and the things/people we are thankful for. As it relates to the world of audio mixing, there are many things I’m thankful for: affordable gear, great resources online to learn from, and of course wonderful people to collaborate with. But today I thought I’d share three specific mixing techniques that I couldn’t live without and am thankful for.
1. Mixing At Low Volumes
Until someone taught me that everything sounds good loud, I had no idea that I should be mixing at lower volumes. I would mix at a level that made my tracks feel good and so I thought I was churning out a great mix. Turns out, that’s the worst thing I could be doing for my mix.
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A great drum mix doesn’t just sound good, it feels good as well. And sometimes with sampled drums you get a nice clean sound, but it lacks the punch and impact you’re looking for. In today’s tutorial I show a quick and easy way to instantly bring out more power from your kicks and snares. Enjoy!
Today I have a boring piece of advice for you that many of your other home studio buddies are overlooking. It’s not flashy, fancy, or clever, but if you learn this concept you will get better results in your current DAW and be one step closer to being a home studio master. Which is why you’re here after all, isn’t it?
More Than Just A Clip Light
It’s scary to see that most home studio owners treat their DAW’s meters as nothing more than a clip light. They don’t pay much attention at all to what the meter is reading and how hot their audio is (not visually, but numerically). In fact, they only check in with their meters if they see a clip light go off. Then we have a problem. If that’s all you need meters for, then why have the meter at all. Just give us a clip light.
But you’re smart, and you realize that their must be a purpose for fancy meters in your mix window. You read this website so you know to stop recording everything so hot in your DAW. But did you know that there is a sweet spot for digital recording? Long story short, you want to be recording your tracks at an average volume (not peak volume) of roughly -18dBfs.
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Nothing irritates me more in the audio world than seeing impressionable home studio owners being led down pointless rabbit trails in the name of “getting better recordings.” There is a gospel of “better gear” being preached day and night on popular internet forums and all around the inter-webs that not only doesn’t help get people the results their after, it leaves them more confused and disenchanted than ever.
Why Are We Obsessed With Converters?
If can’t tell by now, the title of this article is chock full of sarcasm. But the sad thing is, this statement is being made all the time. Many of you even have been “convinced” by someone online that your converters are bad and you need to upgrade. You might not have even known what converters were, let alone that the ones you already own in your audio interface aren’t “good enough” to do serious audio work.
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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned vet, with so many capable DAWs to choose from your head can spin constantly wondering which piece of software is right for you. Today I want give you some wisdom as you approach the purchase of or potential switch to a new DAW in hopes that it will bring you more productivity, joy, and better results.
One of the most helpful things you can do in your home studio is get your speakers setup to their full potential. The first question you have to ask is are your speakers where they belong. There are some simple things you can do to instantly reduce unbalanced reflections and unnecessary bass build up.
But let’s say you’ve done that and still need to take things a step further? One thing I’ve had to do over the years is tune my speakers using reference tracks.
What’s Wrong With This Pro Mix?
One thing many of us home studio owners don’t do enough of is listen to pro mixes on our studio monitors. We spend all of our time in the studio listening to OUR mixes. Big mistake.
The great thing about a pro mix is that, well, it’s a pro mix. In theory it’s been recorded by top engineers in a great sounding studio, mixed by a top engineer in a great sounding room, and mastered by a top engineer with careful attention to balance. In essence when listening to a pro mix you can be confident that it’s a good benchmark for quality sound.
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Do you remember what it was like when you first started recording or mixing? When you had absolutely no idea what you were doing? Well, for some of you that might not be a memory, but a current reality. For some of us though, every article we read, every video tutorial we watch, and ever mix we do puts us one step further away from that beginning stage.
Tweak Until It Sounds Right
And of course that’s the goal, to move away from being a beginner and instead become a master of your craft. But let me warn you about something. If you get too much knowledge and too much experience you can easily fall into the trap of over thinking things. You believe recording and mixing is a technical endeavor and not an artistic one.
And therein lies the beauty of being a beginner, not knowing what you are doing. You don’t think, you just act. If things don’t sound good to you, you simply grab some knobs or a microphone and tweak until things sound better. What a glorious concept that is!
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Looking for a great all around go-to studio microphone? Then put the Rode NT1a (or newly updated NT1) on your list. In the wake of last week’s article on affordable microphones vs expensive microphones I thought I would share one of my all time favorite affordable mics. For around $200 US, you really can’t go wrong with having one of these in your mic locker. Check out the review and sound sample at the end.
We all know that EQ is a powerful tool when recording, as it can help you sculpt the perfect sound before it hits your DAW. But what if you don’t own a hardware EQ or a channel strip that bundles one with the preamp? Can you still EQ your recordings without one? The way I see it, your microphone has a simple EQ built in.
Two Things You Need To Know
If you can grasp these two simple concepts it will help unlock a lot of potential in your recording sessions, no matter where you record or which microphones you use. I’ve written at length that mic placement in general is paramount to getting a great recording. But specifically there are two facts you need to understand about how most mics work.
The first fact is that when you angle a microphone off axis from the source (roughly 45 degrees) you tend to tame the high frequency response that it picks up. The second fact is that when you move a microphone closer to the source you get more bass response, and vice versa. Both of these facts assume you are using a cardioid polar patter with your microphone, which most of you are. Read More →