Hopefully, you’ve recorded your tracks pretty well, and now it’s time to mix them. Sometimes mixing can be overwhelming, and when you spend too much time mixing your track there’s a point where you lose focus.
Here are 5 simple tips that will help you create a better mix in no-time and with little effort.
1. Use EQ and Compression in all your audio tracks.
EQ and compression are crucial for a good mix, if you still don’t know how to use them properly I recommend that you read our posts on how to use compression in your mixes and how to properly EQ a mix. Or, watch a couple of tutorials and make sure to fully understand how they work. You should use EQ and compression in nearly every audio track that has not yet been processed. This doesn’t mean you have to, but it will make it easier to balance volumes. For instance, virtual instruments and samples often don’t need compression because they are already compressed, so you don’t need to add this unless you feel it’s necessary or want to add a “compression effect”.
Why is this so important?
Compression will give your mix more punch and will make it a lot easier to adjust volume levels, as the volume of each individual track will be more constant. It’s not about compressing everything too much, but in my opinion, making a soft compression to all the audio tracks will make all the difference. Once you learn how to compress each type of track you will benefit more from this great tool.
EQ will make your mix sound clear by enhancing the good parts of each track and reducing the unwanted frequencies. For instance, when you Equalize a vocal track, you’ll want to eliminate anything below 80Hz or even 100Hz, there’s nothing but noise and artefacts there. You also may want to raise frequencies around and above 4Khz to get more warmth.
Except on bass drum, bass and other low freq instruments, you should consider doing a low cut on 80Hz, or maybe using a low shelf filter instead to reduce them instead of totally removing them.
2. Use Panning correctly and benefit from Stereo
This is essential, you need to use the stereo field to achieve a clear mix. Here’s a simple tip on how to pan correctly.
If it’s a bass, a low-frequency instrument, a snare or a main vocal it should go to the centre.
Everything else can and should be panned, depending on how important the instrument is for your mix. If you have a similar instrument for the other side of the stereo you should pan it more or less, be creative.
You also have to compensate the stereo, so if you pan 1 guitar to the left you should pan the other guitar or a secondary vocal to the right.
An easy tip for pop or rock is that you record your rhythm guitars in stereo (with two microphones in A/B or doing 2 similar takes) and then pan 1 track 100% to the left and the other one 100% to the right. This will create the feeling that the guitar is centred, when it’s not, and it will make it much easier for you to fit your vocal track in the middle of the stereo.
3. Use Reverb wisely
Reverb is a must in mixing, but you have to use it with criteria. You need some reverberation to add a sense of space and mix all the instruments more naturally, but too much reverb can ruin your mix. One simple rule is that you don’t have to hear the reverb in the mix, just feel the difference when you turn it off.
4. Don’t use limiters
I’ve seen a lot of people using limiters in individual channels, this may feel good at first but it will probably just be because of the volume boost. Using limiters in your mix is a huge mistake in my opinion as it will cause big issues when mastering as your mix will have a lot of distortion already. Use a compressor instead and work with lower volumes to avoid clipping.
5. Simplify your mix
Don’t use too many plugins or effects if you don’t control them or are unsure if they are actually helping the mix. It will create unnecessary complexity to the project. Learn how to benefit from the basic effects such as EQ, compression, reverb, and delay before going further.
Also make sure to use groups and FX channels, for example, you should use only 1 stereo FX channel for your reverb instead of adding the effect in every channel. Although it might be confusing at first, using groups and FX will make your project cleaner and simpler to work with.
These basic tips will help you improve your mix, but don’t stop there. Read our post on 7 mixing mistakes you need to avoid and steer clear of these common mistakes.
Do you have any other tip to share? Leave a comment below!
Post picture under Creative Commons License by Mooganic