Practical mixing tips
So, mixing is like most other things. It’s personal and there is no right way or wrong way to get the mix and balance you are after. But to many people mixing is pretty confusing and have a hard time getting it right.
So I have gathered some of my got-tips when it comes to mixing. First as bullet-points, then a little more in depth explanation.
- Always use a little compression (unless the dynamic is the point).
- When setting volumes, always lower the volume on the track, rather than raising it.
- Set volume first, EQ next. And cut rather than boost.
- When EQ is done, check volumes again. (Still thumb rule lowering rather than raising)
So, why above four pointers?
A little compression
It is my opinion and experience, that it is easier to get the various sounds to blend together more easily when using compressor on each channel. At least a little, of course with the exception that if the dynamic is part of the point with something on a specific channel, then do not use a compressor, it “ruins” dynamics, so then just keep it as is.
Setting volumes, part 1
Now, a simple way to get started into a decent balance is to bring each fader into the bottom, killing all sounds. Start by introducing one sound. Level it so it is not to loud (check the master output meters) nor to silent. Then add next sound by pushing the fader upward until you have balanced the second sound compared to the first. Repeat for each sound you introduce. If you feel the urge to adjust some of the other sounds that you have already set in place, thumb rule is only adjust downward. This may very well be applicable to almost all faders from time to time, but much better to generally lower than boosting too much (my opinion). Once you have all faders up and have found a decent balance, it is time for EQ.
EQ – cut rather than boost
While it is tempting to use the EQ to boost a sound, it is often better to cut others to leave room for the sound you want to make room for. Both for volume (setting volumes, part 1) and for EQ it is like being in a room full of people, and if you want to hear a specific person talk, it is harder for that one person to talk so loud that the single person drowns out the rest, than it is to ask everybody to shut up, and then listen to what that specific person has to say. Same basic principal. Or to make use of an artist that created statues from stone, sadly I do not remember which one. But the principal being, the statue is already inside the giant piece of stone, I just cut away the pieces that covers it.
Setting volumes, part 2
Chanses are that when fiddling with the EQ, you have altered the balance. If you think a sound (one or many) are too loud, lower them, if you think a specific sound is too weak, lower the others. Occasionally, I go back to the first step and redo the balance again. Once the balance are in place, it is fine-tuning-time. And now the basic rules of just cutting or just lowering does not apply.
And as always, stay creative and curious! And have fun!