Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. Please correct/add/improve as needed. I recommend reading the hole thread for other good posts too.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Mixing in General
The main effects used in a mix are EQ, Compression
. There are no rules to production so do not feel that all three should be used on every part in your track. While frequency analyzers, gain reduction meters and decay time readings can be helpful, remember to use your ears. If something sounds better without an effect, then simply don't use it.
Before any of these effects even get thought about, make sure your source sounds
(e.g. Your synth sounds, drum samples, recordings, etc.) are sounding as close as possible to what you had in mind. Think of effects like a polish (assuming they are being used for mix purposes) and remember you can't polish a turd, so get your source sounding good.There's absolutely nothing to gain from boosting a snare, say, at 250 hz if there is no frequency content there. Find great samples. It makes producing beats a hole lot easier. From then on usually less is more with mixing.Gain Structure
For a good mix it is important to get your gain structure right. Take care with getting your levels right. Some good advise is to get the levels approximately right before they even reach the main mixer. This way the mixer can be used to make smaller more minor adjustments to the volumes. Gain structures depends quite a lot on genre so get your spectrum analyzer out and compare with professional tracks that you want yours to sound like mix-wise. Look at how loud the lows, mids, and high frequencies are compared to your track. Bare in mind that these tracks will probably have been professionally mastered so they will be sounding a lot louder and more powerful. Do not start turning your levels up to try and match the volume. Turn that song down, don't boost yours. Always keep your headroom in mind.
Like everything in production this is not set in stone but here are some good starting points:
-Your final mix peaking at -5db to -3db. This gives you a good bit of headroom for mastering.
-Beat peaking at -10db to -8db.
-Sub at around 2db below your beat. People new to producing often make the mistake of thinking the bassier the better. Your beat should usually be peaking louder than your sub.
Another mistake that is often made is having hi-hats too loud. Remember they can be heard at very low levels.EQ (Equalization)
EQ almost everything! Cut off any unwanted and un-needed frequencies for headroom
and try not to have many overlapping frequencies
. Without this it's virtually impossible to get a good mix. A good technique, using a parametric EQ, is to boost the gain by small band width and sweep across your frequency spectrum
. This can help you to hear the frequencies that you want, don't want, want to cut out of other instruments, or just need a slight boost/cut to focus the sound.
Try to use subtractive EQ
rather than artificially boosting frequencies. As a general rule you shouldn't boost by more than 6db unless your aiming for a messy, un-natural sound.The word 'messy' should not be confused with the word 'filthy' - commonly used to describe heavy, jump-up Dubstep. Widening the Q value can help to make things sound more natural. Filters
can be a useful tool. Even if you can't hear certain frequencies they may still be there taking up valuable headroom so high passing/low cutting
and low passing/high cutting
parts can help to really get your mix sounding as good as it possibly can.
Really pay attention to detail here. Reverb
The idea of reverb is to give each part it's own space
in the mix. It is important not to over-do reverb as your mix will sound washed out
and sounds will become hidden under the mountain of reverb you've created. Your main sounds that you want to stand out will generally have less reverb on. Background noises and lower level sounds will usually have more reverb to push them back in the mix. You should always high-pass
your reverb to keep those low frequencies from getting muddy
Don't be afraid to set the dry/wet
value to fully wet. This can sound particularly good on Pads or sounds adding ambiance
. Try taking a sample, maybe adding some delay, then add a reverb with infinite decay
time and a fully wet setting. Automate
things such as volume, filter cut-off, panning, etc. for cool sounding results. Experiment with reverb as a way of creating atmospheres
it can can really add that flare your searching for in a track.
Your lower frequency
parts such as sub-bass
and the kick drum
normally have no reverb
on. Using Reverb as a send
effect or on a bus
channel can be useful. If you want things to sit together
, send them to the same reverb. Reverb emulates the reflections from a recording space, so if you send channels to the same reverb, it'll sound like they're coming from the same place. I normally use the same reverb on my hats and snare.
If you're just looking to sit things in the mix as opposed to making them sound drenched in reverb, turn up the aux
send (or dry/wet
value if used as an insert) until you can hear the effect, then walk it back a few notches.
Genres that use lots of reverb include Reggae and Ambient. Fast genres like Drum n Bass tend to use less reverb because there is less space for it. More chilled out tracks tend to have more reverb on parts, to create a smooth feel with a certain distance to it. This makes it easy and soothing (or chilling) to listen to. The heavy club banger tunes use less reverb to give it that in-your-face feel with everything hitting hard and sounding crisp.
Always be careful with reverb but do not limit yourself. Experiment with it but do it with care and your sure to find the best results.
For a more in depth look at reverb click hereCompression:
Compression is thought of as a very advanced
and can be very difficult to apply effectively. Do not worry if you don't 'get' it at first. Lots of experience and practice will definitely improve your understanding of this effect and your ability to use it successfully.
A simple way to think about compression is that it squashes
your sound. Anything above the threshold
value will be squashed/brought down in volume
by an amount determined by the ratio
value. A compressor with a ratio value of infinite:1 will act as a limiter
, whereas a ratio value of 1:1 will add no compression, therefore doing nothing.
Compression is applied to different things for different reasons, here are some of the most common:
-To smooth out volume levels
: if an instrument has very extreme dynamics
- very loud peaks and very quiet parts, compression can be used to level those out. It reduces dynamic content so be wary of using it too much in this way unless you want a very flat track with little changes in volume levels.
-On percussive hits
: A lot of producers use compression on their drum hits
to shape them and to make them punchier
. A good way of doing this effectively is, firstly move the threshold down very low and the ratio to infinite:1. Now you can here exactly what the compressor is doing. Adjust your attack and release knobs to your taste. Once you have this how you like it, increase the threshold and ease of on the ratio and your done.
-To increase perceived volume
: As mentioned above you squash the sound. This will reduce it's overall volume so you will need to add some make-up gain to bring it back up and it should now sound louder. Side-chain compression
is another thing I should mention. In my opinion it should only be used as a last resort and with good EQing it isn't needed but that's just my opinion. Side-chain compression is basically when one thing is set to trigger
a compression on another instrument. This is quite often used on bass where the compression is set to come in when the kick drum hits to stop clashing frequencies. When using this technique to clean up a mix you should go by the idea that, if you can hear it working it's not done properly. Side-chained compression is also used for creative purposes. You should have all heard this in dance music with the offbeat sounding bass.
For a more in depth look at compression click here