Dance Pop Tutorial Day 7: Mixing, Mastering & The Final Song [7 Day Song]
Hi, I’m Dave from boyinaband.com and welcome to the final day of my 7 day song on Dance Pop, courtesy of propellerhead software’s Music Making Month.
Yesterday in day 6 we discussed the arrangement of the song along with the melodies I’ve used. Today let’s finish off the song with Mixing and Mastering.
A lot of this will be the same info as previous 7 day song tutorials, but there are some Dance-Pop specific things I’ll mention.
When you’re mixing, try to mix on a pair of flat response speakers if possible, since overly bassy hi fi systems or regular old PC speakers will end up giving a false representation of the sound. And it makes sense that if you can’t hear all of the frequencies you’re prone to mix things a bit dodgily.
If you don’t have speakers you’re used to that give a decent all round representation of the frequency spectrum, Then make sure you test your mix out on a few systems – in headphones, on the car stereo, out of a giant audio-based weapon used to terrify the populous in a backwards country, just to see if the track is nice wherever you hear it. You don’t want to have a good mix in your car and a bad sounding mix while the insurgents are running in fear for their lives!
As with most Dance Music, The beat and bass are, as per usual, generally loudest instrumentally. The vocals in Pop music are difficult to gauge – especially after working on a track for a long time, but they should be a similar volume to the beat, perhaps a little bit lower depending on the power of the voice of the vocalist.
Remember to apply enough reverb to help it sit in the mix, but not so much that you can hear loads of reverberation going on, then have those double tracks and harmonies sitting behind the lead vocal just thickening it up.
The FX can be awkward, since reverses need to be nice and loud, but you don’t want the cymbols swamping the track, so feel free to change some levels in the mixer within the FX combinator.
The other thing to think about is stereo space – if you have two sounds that live in a similar frequency, try widening one so it is able to sit in the mix either side of the other sound. You can do this with chorus like we did with the bass synth’s top end or just pan it.
I also added a stereo imager as a send effect and just dialed that in on the mix, which I’ve done separately, this is a cool mastering technique.
So that’s the mix, the best thing to do is give it a few days after you’ve mixed it, come back and mix it again at a point where you aren’t about to collapse from mental exhaustion after getting frustrated at your kick drum treading the line between awesome power and flabby mess.
Then it’s time for mastering!
I’ve got another mastering suite than I had before, one of which is on 4 band parallel compression mode, which is brilliant for bringing up the overall level of 4 different frequency bands, but it can result in the track sounding over-compressed and flat if you’re not careful. So apply it sparingly.
Then in the other one I’ve put on the dance preset which gives us a compressor, EQ and maximizer, but I’ve made some changes that I think improve it – I turned the limiter on slow attack and release, then turned on soft clip fully so those punchy bits got tamed with some warm distortion. I found this was quite a nice method of volume boosting.
In the top 4 params, maximizer is up a tiny but, but compression is down, since I compressed the crap out of the instruments individually anyway.
If you’re worried about the lack of dynamic range, i.e. the punchiness of the kick drum, don’t have the master gain so high. The song will be quieter, but when you boost the volume of the system to a comparable volume, it’ll feel ten times punchier.
Unfortunately, since you aren’t God or the Flying Spagetti Monster, it isn’t possible to visit the houses of every DJ in the world to request that they make your track much louder than the rest, you might have to sacrifice this dynamic range for the volume to compete with the volumes of other tracks in clubs.
Then once everything’s finished – take a listen to it side by side with a similar song of your choice to see whether it’s hitting the right kinds of volumes, frequencies and that it’s sounding as pro as you can make it.
Don’t keep worrying about one song though, if it’s not working then move on to a new song. You will only demoralise yourself if you obsess over individual tracks for too long – you have to learn when to stop and try another song, since you’ll probably learn a lot more in the production of your next awesome song than you would from agonizing over the mix of this one.
Record 1.5 has some useful bits for mastering – I’ve done the vocals separately to the instrumental so to glue them together a little bit, I’ve turned on record’s compressor, with a medium threshold and ratio, high attack and low release. Only about 1 or 2 dB on the make up gain since we already did a lot of compression in the instrumental, but this helps tie the vocals into the instrumental a bit.
That’s about it for the mix and master, tune in for part 2 where I’ll be playing the final song!
Okay, Feel free to post your track as a video response to this one. Now it’s time to sit back and take a listen to the final finished 7 day Dance Pop song.
Frickin’ Sweet – I’m really pleased with the catchiness of that track, and I’ve been going around humming various parts of it for the past week. It could probably compete with a Max Martin or Dr Luke track! Okay, maybe that’s going a little bit far, but I bet I can mouse cursor dance better than they can.
Now, if you haven’t already, check out my Prog House, Psytrance, Hip Hop, Liquid, Darkstep, Dirty Dubstep, G Funk, Bassline, Trance, Drum n Bass, Electro House and Dubstep 7 day song video tutorials – experimenting with different genres that you wouldn’t normally make is a great way to learn more about production, plus it’s seriously fun!
Cheers so much for watching, hit the like and subscribe buttons if you found this tutorial useful and I’ll catch you on the next videos and on the boyinaband.com forum!
See ya round, guys!