Every time I bring up the idea of gain staging people’s eyes seem to gloss over. I know, it sounds boring. But until you do it right you won’t believe just how critical it is to getting a big, clear, and musical mix. That’s why I started my very first 5 Minutes To A Better Mix series with this concept. Today I want to show you another way to setup your mixing levels using a simple trim plugin.
I love to see competition in the plugin world. It better serves the customer/user. Today’s review covers the Plug And Mix VIP Bundle from the guys at DontCrack.com. It’s a very affordable bundle of plugins ($399US for 40 plugins) that both sound good and are fun to use. Here’s a little show and tell from a mix that I used a bunch of these plugins on.
So we’ve reached the end of a month long mixing video tutorial marathon where I pumped out 31 mixing tips in 31 days straight! From mixing philosophy to tricks and hacks, this round of 5 Minutes To A Better Mix was a good one!
Third Time’s A Charm
And you know where that leaves us don’t you? With 3 rounds of this video series, that brings us to a grand total of 93 video tutorials. That’s about 8 hours of practical mixing training, at your disposal, ready to help you get better results in YOUR studio with YOUR gear. In fact, I’ve made it super easy for you to access all of those videos. I recently updated the 5 Minutes To A Better Mix page so you can see all 93 videos at a glance and dive right in!
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Part 30 of 31 – Looking for a more consistent, upfront, bass response in your mix? Or perhaps you simply don’t have enough low end at all? A multiband compressor can help.
Compress Just The Low End
With the power of a multiband compressor, you can easily process only the bottom end of your mix, giving you a more even response, tighter bass, and over all fatter sound. It’s a great tool, especially if EQ alone isn’t cutting it.
Part 29 of 31 – At the end of your mix you want to check your EQ balance against a pro track.How is the top end? How is the bottom end? A quick EQ check with a reference can go a long way.
The Painful Reference Process
Yes it’s painful to bring in a reference mix at this point, but you must do it. If you want to deliver a better mix, then bring in a pro track to reference. But here’s what you listen for: the top end clarity and bottom end weight.
Part 25 of 31 – Are your stereo delays getting lost among all your other tracks? Feel like your delay and reverbs are taking away from any sense of clarity or space? Try a mono vocal delay.
One Specific Delay Location
The beauty of a mono vocal delay is that it’s fixed. It can echo and repeat for eternity, but only in one specific location in the stereo spectrum. This keeps all your clarity and mix separation in tact, but still gives you some ambience and effects to play with.
Part 19 of 31 - The way to get a great mix is to create impact. But impact starts with a good arrangement of a good song. In the mixing phase however, you can still tweak the arrangement for maximum impact.
Mute The Bass Guitar
The easiest way to help your arrangement out is to take out the bass for a few bars of the song. The moment it comes back in, you feel it. You’re creating impact not by adding something, but by taking something away for a moment. Ironic, isn’t it?
Part 18 of 31 - When you mix you sometimes get into a zone. You only look forward, never looking back to where you came from. The problem is, without looking backwards you never know if you’re actually improving the mix.
Bypass Your Plugins
Are you actually making your mix better with those plugins? Or are you just making it different? The only way to know is to stop every 10 minutes, bypass all your plugins, and compare. Have all those adjustments actually helped the mix get closer to your goal?
Part 15 of 31 - If you’re still looking to fatten up your snare drum and our EQ treatment alone isn’t cutting it, there’s another great tool at your disposal. It’s called a compressor. Jackpot!
Squash The Peaks
So to fatten up this snare, we’re actually going to squash the peaks a little bit. Why? Well by turning down only the peaks, we can turn up the whole snare, which in effect turns up the tone and the tail of the drum. And to our ears that sounds like fat awesomeness!
Part 14 of 31 - Working with a thin, maybe weak sounding snare drum in the mix? Need to fatten it up a bit? No problem. Just grab your stock EQ and let’s get to work.
Find The Fat Frequency
The key to using an EQ to fatten up a snare is to go searching for the fat frequency. Every snare has one. Usually in the low mids. Once you find it, you can emphasize it over some of the other frequencies in the track, gain match it, and KABAM: fatter snare!