Have you ever tried to mix a song in 10 minutes? If not, you’re missing out. It’s funny how if you only have 10 minutes to mix a song, you become super big picture oriented and you think like a listener, not a mixer. This exercise will help you with your mixes immensely. Check it out!
Did you know that mixing can be summed up in just one word? It’s true. Mixing isn’t about plugins, converters, or studio monitors. It isn’t about acoustically treated rooms or golden ears. All of those things play a part (potentially) in getting a good mix, but to focus on them when mixing is to miss the entire point. Let’s kick off Mixing Month with this critical video…
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.
Read More →
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!
Do your mixes sound like small and underwhelming? Do pro mixes sound much more open and larger than life than yours? It might be that you’re crowding the mix box with too many tracks, but also might be that you’re not using these simple mix moves to open them up to their full potential. In this two part video series I want to show you how to get more depth, width, and height out of your mixes and free them from the mix box’s confines.
Let’s take a hypothetical journey today: let’s try to mix a song in our DAW without using any plugins or effects whatsoever. Our goal will be the “no plugin mix”, one that sounds full, clear, and punchy to the listener, but without inserting a single software or hardware compressor, EQ, or reverb.
How would your workflow change if you couldn’t use any plugins? What COULD you do to get a great mix. As you’ll see there are a handful of things you could do.
Set Perfect Fader Levels
The obvious place to start is with volume faders. The simple beauty of multitrack recording is the power to turn the volume up or down of each individual element in a song, not just the entire song itself. A great mix begins with a great static mix and that should be your first goal. Find the perfect fader position for each track in the session.
Read More →
The name of the game with mixes these days is headroom. This is especially true with mixing in the box (i.e. your software). What is headroom and why is it important? The short answer is: the range between your song’s loudest peaks and 0dbfs (or clipping). The benefit of lots of headroom? Sonic clarity and musicality. Do you want your mix to sound squished and flat? I didn’t think so. So listen up.
No Room To Mix
If you don’t leave enough headroom in your DAW then you really have to where to go with your mix. You will be hitting the proverbial (and literal) ceiling early and often. No es bueno. In the analog world we had some fudge room near the top of the meter, but the same does not hold true with digital. The solution? Free up as much headroom as possible and your mix will gain life and room to breathe. Here are the three easiest ways to get back some precious headroom in your mix.
Read More →
Today I want to share a method of mixing that has been giving me good results in less time. Borrowing from the world of business and time management I’ve been developing some new workflows that I think can really help people in their studios. I call it the Tim Ferris approach to mixing because it’s based on some principles that were beautifully explained in the book The Four Hour Work Week by author Timothy Ferriss.
Get Better Mixes In Less Time
In Tim’s book, he addresses the problem found in the moder workplace: work for work’s sake. If we have 8 hours in a day, we fill those 8 hours and keep ourselves busy. It feels good to be busy, but are we really accomplishing much? Are we being effective? Most of the time we are not. Instead, Ferriss proposes we use two well known principles in combination to see extraordinary results in effectiveness and time savings: the 80/20 rule and Parkinson’s Law.
Read More →
Probably the most obvious desire in a mastering session is to get your mix nice and loud. But how to we get more volume out of our mix? The answer is a limiting. How loud is loud enough? The answer is, it depends. We don’t want to crush our mix, but we do want it to have plenty of gain. Today I’ll show you how to take a stock peak limiter and get your final mix to a competitive volume.
Did you know that 80% of your mix comes in the first hour? It’s true. The majority of your mix’s sound, vibe, and direction is set in those first 60 minutes, regardless of how much more time you spend on the mix. So whether you mix quickly or slowly, simply being aware of how critical that first hour of the mix is will dramatically help you moving forward.
Your Gut Is Always Right
The moment you first fire open some tracks to mix your brain starts working. You are hearing these tracks maybe for the first time and ideas start to swirl in your head. Your initial gut response to what you are hearing is paramount. The visual image that materializes in your mind is critical. Your unique way of hearing music comes to life and you must trust it.
The way you think the drums should sound is correct. The tone and vibe of the guitars is spot on. Your aesthetic for the lead vocal is brilliant. It’s only when you begin to over-think your decisions to things fall apart. Only you can mix the song the way only you can. So trust that your initial first impressions are correct and move forward with them.
Read More →