Great Post on Mixing Music

Mixing Music

Hey, I’m back again!!

So you know that I like to post some of my own tips but I also like to share stuff when I find it.  And today I found a gem.

I was looking around on the Modern Mixing site and saw a very very interesting post on how to mix music for beginners.  I mean, I’m not a begnineer myself but I understand that I have a lot of room to grow.

This post was absolutely eye opening for me even with my 2 years of experience.  I think I learned more in that post that I did in all of the time I spent researching the last year.  So if you have a minute, I suggest checking it out.

What are Some Things Covered?

Anything from session organization to color coding tracks was covered.

He also talks about simple things like the balance and listening to the rough which are really important when you are trying to mix a song.  Especially the balance because ultimately that is the song in a nutshell.

More Than Just a Post

But more than just that one post on mixing music, Modern Mixing is a great information site run by a really cool guy.  I mean he even worked hard on a trap drum kit and then gave away some of the samples for FREE.  Like who does that?  Seriously nice guy.

There are also a tonne of post on that site that have to do with general mixing strategies, articles, tutorials and he also does interviews with some top notch engineers.

Here’s a cool video he did with another engineer on mixing vocals

How Simply Effective Reverb and Delay Can Be

REverb

Let’s be honest with our selves.  The only two plugins that you’ll need to get a great mix are an EQ and a Compressor – That’s it.  But if you could take that mix that you did with just EQ and compression and then make it sound more dimensional and full of life, wouldn’t that be something you’d want to do?

This is exactly where your easy to use reverb and delay plugins come in.  So today, I;m going to show you just how powerful these two effects can be to bring your already great sounding mix to another level.

Reverb Can Be Like Instant Glue To Your Mix

I think that home studio owners all have one thing in common and that is that we are using overdubs, almost all the time.  What that means is that we aren’t recording the entire band in one shot.  We record the drums, then maybe the guitars and the bass after that.

Now to the music consumer, it just sounds like there was an entire band recording but in reality that’s not why happened (our secret – shhh)

One of the problems with recording this way is that each sound is dry and distinct on its own.  There is no microphone bleed or room that has entered the recordings.  It lacks a little something.

This is where our first use of reverb would come in.

Just by routing all of your tracks to a reverb plugin, you can put each instrument into the same room. Now, we definitely are not trying to overkill the reverb, just a tiny amount can give the illusion that all the tracks were recorded in the same room.

Caution: Less is ALWAYS MORE

A little goes a long way when using reverb, especially with digital reverb plugins. By using too much of this reverb glue techniquem you can really muddy up a mix that was once clean and clear.

Stop and think about it for a second. You’ve used EQ and compression, to work hard and open up your tracks. But by adding a lot more reverb we are going to ruin the hard work we put in by introducing more mud and washiness.

One way to help keep you out of trouble is to push the reverb up until you her too much of it and then dial it back until its as if you want more.  That’s usually a good place for the reverb.

Delays, Delays, Delays

It really is difficult to write about delays and reverbs because everyone has different tastes.  People are going to add in as much or as little as they want and there isn’t really a general rule of thumb.

One that that I really like about delays is that you can add a really unique texture to a guitar or vocal by adding in a long feedback.  It really does give you something extra that you just can’t get anywhere else.

A lot of what goes into mixing is taking the listener on a journey that they have never been on before.  By adding in a long delay, you can effectively create a really nice and pleasing listening experience.

My favorite delay trick is to send the vocal to an aux channel with a delay unit on it.  Then roll off some of the high end so that the delay sounds a bit more muffled and distant.  This way it doesn’t interfere with the lead vocal.

Delay Can and Will Mess With Your Stereo Field

A word of warning with delays, too much delay can kill your sense of stereo separation and panning, just like too much reverb can kill all your hard work with EQ,

That fact is even more true when you put the delay on things that aren’t panned in mono. Your are now hearing the hard panned sound as well as the ping pong delayed echo.

Just try to keep that in mind.  Have fun with the delays, just don’t go crazy.

How Do You Use Effects?

So if you aren’t too busy already mixing your music.  Tell me below how you are using effects. I want to hear about it.

Compressing Overheads For Balance

Hey whats up?

So I was browsing around YouTube to check out mixing videos and found this one on compressing overheads.

The basic premise is that you compress the overheads to get more balance out of them so that everything sits better in the mix.

Check it out, let me know what you think.

Why Do We Use EQs When Mixing?

EQ

It’s no secret that we “should be using” an EQ when were mixing.  We look at all the pros using them in articles and videos.  The come with our digital audio workstations and mixing consoles.  It’s clear that EQ is a tool made for the modern engineer.  But How Come?  Why and how should we be using it during the mix process?

Sound Balancing

To start, EQ is a short form for equalizer so we can start with the idea of what it is meant for.  Thus the EQ lives to equal out the tone and balance of the instruments in a track.  Basically the term “balance” is going to be a common thing on this blog.

So at the root, an EQ is simply something you have at your disposal to bring your tracks in balance with one another so that all the sounds are heard in your mix.  Similar to a guitar amp, which has controls to alter tone, we use an EQ in a similar fashion to bring out the best balance in our mix.

Clearing Up Frequency Space

One thing I noticed early on when I was learning how to mix, was that my tracks sounded great when solo’d but not so great when they were played together.  And actually the more tracks I added, the cloudier my mix was soudning.  I was having a problem called “masking”.

There tends to be a lot of frequency overlap when mixing instruments together.  One thing that EQ is great for, is carving out spaces where elements in a mix tend to overlap and mask each other.   One of the most common forms of masking is a kick drum and bass guitar.  With a little EQing tweaking you can get them both to live together.

This is why I am huge user of subtractive equalization because it allows you to clear up space for everything.

Control Over Your Mix

The last reason you would want to use an EQ is for control over your mix.  So Am I talking about?  It’s simple – audio can be wildly untamed.  Frequencies can stand out at any moment and be much louder then any other sound.  It’s like how a bass guitar can sound really good and then all of a sudden one note just sound A LOT louder than everything else.

Equalization can help with these bursts of sound to give you a much more controlled track.  It might be some harshness in the guitar tracks, some muddyness in the vocals, or an unrulely bass guitar like I just talked about.  You can find the frequencies that are out of control and then dial them back to give you a smoother and more polished mix.

They Shouldn’t Hear It

If you excute your EQ techniques corretly, then the listener should never be able ot hear it.  No one will ever notice your hard work.  Ultimately it’s what the listener doesn’t hear that will make or break the mix and not what they do hear.  So once you can grasp this subtle EQ technique, you’ll be much more effective with it.

Introduction

What’s Going on?

I just thought I would start the blog by making an introduction.  My name is Jerry Silva and I’m an audio enthusiast.

I love to play guitar and make my own music on my home studio system.  Recently I’ve become pretty obsessed with the process of mixing and mastering.  I’ve realized just how important it is to making your music stand out.

This blog is going to be dedicated to sharing the knowledge that I have with mixing and mastering as well as sharing posts from other people who I think give great advice on the technical process.

Until the next post!!!