Not hearing enough of one piece of the drum kit in your overheads track? Need more hi hat or ride cymbal compared to the snare or kick drum? A little strategic compression can go a long way to giving your overheads more balance so everything sits better in the mix. Check out this example.
Today I want to make the case that what your plugins look like in your DAW is critical to your track’s success. Now, let’s be clear up front. What the graphical user interface (GUI) of a piece of software looks like has no actual affect on the sonics of your music, technically speaking. However, so much of music making is emotional and psychological and that plays a big part in what I want to discuss today.
The “Cool” Factor Is Important
I’m firmly of the mind that inspiration in the studio can come from visual stimuli. If you’ve ever been in a high end studio with a gorgeous console, racks of compressors and preamps, nice lighting, and walls of vintage guitars to play with you get pumped up to make music. It’s part of the intangible nature of gear. Beautiful (i.e. cool looking) gear makes you feel cool. At least it does for me.
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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!
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!
If you’ve listened to just about any Soundgarden album over the past 20 years you’ve heard this effect. The creepy vocal swells up moments before the vocalist blasts into a new line. It sounds cool, because it is cool. You’ll likely recognize it when you hear it. Here’s how to do it.
Just about every week I receive an email that asks some variation of this question: “I tend to use mostly loops, samples, or virtual instruments. So do I need to apply an EQ to them since they are already professional samples?”
The problem with this question is that it exposes two flaws in how to think about mixing in general, and EQ in particular. I’d like to answer the question today and perhaps help expand your thinking on how to best approach EQ.
What’s The Point Of EQ?
Before we can talk about whether or not you should slap an EQ on your loops or virtual instruments we need to ask the bigger question: What is the point of an EQ? Or rephrased, What can an EQ do for my tracks?
EQ is your most powerful mixing tool. Why? Because it can take tracks that have many overlapping frequencies and help them each shine beautifully within a busy mix alongside many other elements. EQ exists to help you bring balance to the mix (i.e. clarity). Good EQ moves result in a mix where every instrument can be heard and nothing is being covered up.
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Logic Pro X might be one of the best home studio bargains around. I’m admittedly a Pro Tools guy (have been for over a decade now), but as someone who helps people get their home studios going, I’d be a jerk to not show what Apple’s latest version of their flagship DAW can do, and for such little money. Check it out.
We all have a tendency to make mixing more complicated than it really is. On the surface (and in many publications, both print and online) mixing seems to be about turning fancy knobs on fancy plugins and using all kinds of secret moves and voodoo gear. In reality, the process of mixing is simple and can be summed up in one word: balance.
You Only Have One Job
Much like Anakin Skywalker was supposed to bring balance to the Force, your job, your ONLY job as a mixer is to bring balance to the recorded tracks before you. Nothing more, nothing less. You do this with simple tools like faders, pan pots, EQ and compression. If, when using these tools you keep in mind your sole job as a mixer is to bring balance to the tracks, you will mix with purpose and clarity.
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If you’re like me, you rarely get to record your drums in a nice big studio space. Perhaps your tracking space is a bedroom, basement or living room. Maybe you’ve tried using room mics or a mono room mic to capture some energy and ambience naturally, but in the mix it just doesn’t sound great. Here’s a nifty little trick to take that lackluster room mic (or pair of room mics) and turn them into a more studio ready sound.
Struggling with a small and mediocre mix? Want it to sound bigger, wider, and larger than life? It’s time break it out of the confines of the mix box. In Part 1 of this little series we looked how to get more depth and width in your mix. Today I want to take things even further and show you how to get more top and bottom separation. The transformation at the end is powerful!