how to mix?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by PYR0, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. PYR0

    PYR0 Guest

    im kinduva newb to home recording. ive done some good mixes and i use cool edit pro. im getting better at it, but a question i have is about mixing.
    is ther any "standard" way of doing it? like get drums to a cerain level, guitar,...etc. ive had no one to show me the basics, and i normally just adjust volume and pan stuff until it sound s good to me. a good method but it takes so much time and is frustrating.

    using cool edit pro, is whats the best level for each kind of instrument.? like i have drums at +4 volume panned 25 to the left and then guitar at -5 volume panned 25 to the right.
    seems like ive just got everything out of wack....its always a mess. and i spend hours trying to get it right.

    any help?
  2. kinetic

    kinetic Guest

    Mixing itself is like an art - there is no 'standard' way of doing it. Remember to listen to some of your favorite CDs in the room where you mix so you get a feel for how your mixes should generally sound (I'm talking in terms of balance here, not production).

    I usually get the drums and the bass sitting well together and then gradually build the mix up from there. If you take this approach remember not the have bass and drums too hot, because you need more headroom for the other elements of the mix. But there is no hard and fast rule. I have had problematic mixes where it was best to start with other elements, such as guitars, and then build the rest of the mix from there.

    Remember too not to mix too loud for too long. You should also check the progress of your mixes at various levels, and if possible on various systems - some people swear by checking their mixes on their car's system!

    Finally, remember to enjoy yourself!
  3. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    Mixing is an art which takes time to master. Sometimes it does seem to take forever.

    There is no "quick" solution to mixing, no "standard" pattern to use. You just have to work at it. You will develop your own way of working and style after a while which will speed the process along.

    The first thing is I start to mix with NO EQ AND NO FX. If it was recorded well it shouldn't need that much in the way of EQ. The reverb and FX are sweeteners.

    For myself personally I like to mix the "foundation" first, the drums and bass (percussion if there is any). I guess that it comes from the "it's got a good beat and you can dance to it" school. If I can get the foundation to groove everything else just seems to fall into place.

    The next thing I do is to get the lead vocal to work with my foundation. The lead vox is the most important part of the track so getting it to work with the foundation is imperative.

    Next come the rhythmic parts; guitars, comp keys, etc. I just try to get them to groove along with the foundation.

    After that I work on pad type parts; synth pads, big fat guitar chords, etc., just fill in the spaces.

    Next I get the lead parts to match out with the lead vox.

    The last part of this first step is to blend in the BG vox (if any).

    After this process I take a few minutes to clear my ears and my head and then take a listen WITHOUT STOPPING THE TRACK. My pad and pencil are handy to make notes. This is where I begin the EQ process; what needs help, what's annoying, etc. and re-build the track.

    After I'm happy with all of this I then add reverb and FX and start automating. This is the stuff that puts the final shine and breathes extra life into the track.

    I'm sure that others have different approaches, but this works well for me. I can usually get a solid mix this way in one to four hours. However, that doesn't mean I stick to this religiously. Sometimes I have to go back to square one and try something different.

    Keep working, it takes time and practice. Refer to CDs (NOT MP3s or other compressed formats) of mixes in a similar genre as reference points.

    Have fun and good luck!!!!
  4. jdier

    jdier Active Member

    Mar 20, 2003
    Home Page:
    This article helped me a great deal:
  5. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    For me, mixing begins when I am tracking.
    If am recording a band, I'll get the rhythm section happening (drums, bass, rhthm guit) and try to achieve my sound with mic selection and placement through the best pres I got for the job. I'll also lay down a scratch vocal for guidance and try to keep the lead guitarrist out of it so he don't bleed into the rhythm track. I'll tell him/her that will concentrate on the leads later, when the basic tracks are down.
    If there are keys, I will do them direct in at this time- overdub later if necessary.

    The vocals are the center of the universe in pop music, so I do my utmost to get that right first. I will begin by tracking with the best mic and preamp that I got :D to fit the particular singer. I go into the daw with the best converters I got (apogee rosetta in my case) I use little or no eq when tracking vocals, try to do it all with mics, pres and placement. I'll use compression if I have to, that is if the singer has poor mic technique and I have to keep transients from ruining the take. Then I'll do 4 or five complete takes and at this point comp them to a hopefully killer vocal performance. Backing vocals will be next, taking care to complement the lead vocals.

    At this point I'll get a rough mix happening with the rhythm section and the vocals- after this is sounding good is time to add leads, keys and other sweetners. For me is important to wait to this stage in the game to add these, for if the lead vocal is down and happening it is easier to add instruments to compliment it, rather than fighting it. the school of hard knocks has taught me that a killer lead track done before a final vocal oftentimes will not work. It is better to get the center of the Universe right first and then get the planets to revolve around it just right.

    By this point, with a rough rhythm section, a comp killer lead vocal and backing voices, a super lead that compliments the vocals, keys that support it and some sweeteners id time to finally get it right. I'll work hard at this point to get the drums, bass and rhythm parts (guitar, keys etc) to fit in seamlessly with the vocals and leads. Then I'll take a listen to it all, and if I need further sweetners, this is the time to do it- Then get a stereo version down and is off to listening in different places to see if it works well elsewhere.

    I might add that another very important mixing component is to know when to let it go-
    You can tweak an otherwise good mix to death by cooking it well done- When you are happy with it, quick send it off to mastering before you second guess yourself again! :D
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