Prog House 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 Progressive House, sponsored by my favourite tag-based events search website “Filtuh.com”. Seems sad to see these sponsored messages come to an end… How about we play the audio branding once more… just for old time’s sake? [plays] There we go. Beautiful.
Yesterday in day 6 we discussed the arrangement of the song along with the musical bits and/or bobs, and today we’ll be adding the finishing touches to mixing it, then bringing it up to a nice level with the mastering tools in reason 5.
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 wonkily!
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 monolithic subwoofer embedded in the pacific ocean, 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 you’re diving 10,911m underwater!
The beat and bass are, as per usual, generally loudest – try to keep them out of the red though – I’ve let the beat creep into the red (not clipping though – there’s an important difference) but with the basses, I’m keeping them low into the yellow so I have room to do some playing with frequencies in the master. The leads, since they’re higher pitched, don’t need as much volume to stay audible in the mix, and the pads should be comfortable lower in the mix. Especially since the bass/lead or the lead pad should be the focal points.
That leads me to the point that in this track there are two distinct sections – that can make it a bit awkward to mix since pretty much everything changes in those breakouts and drops. One technique you can use to make your drops hit harder is to have the breakouts mixed a little bit quieter than the drops so when that bass hits you really feel it!
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 or just duplicate the sound and pan it like we did for our bass. It helps to have slight differences between the panned sounds as well to add width.
One last protip is to automate the volumes and releases of elements in the track once you’ve mixed it all down – for instance before these drops, the music completely cuts out but the reverb used to spill over into that split second silence after the clapsnare. I got rid of that by removing the reverb and turning down the volume on anything that was spilling to 0, just to make that bit extra tight.
Also you may notice I’ve added a stereo imager to our reverb – it’s just soloing out the high band and widening it slightly, this means I can apply it to sounds that are very bassy just to bring out the highs a bit more – for instance, on our bass now it sits in the mix a little bit better with a tiny amount of reverb smoothing it into place. Incidentally, a bit of noticeable reverb can sound good on a bass like this as well.
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 strangle someone to death after you hear that bassline for the billion and first time.
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 took off the limiter on the maximizer which was squashing it unashamedly, then brought up the soft clip to full for that nice, warm and punchy sound that really knocks with some power thanks to that slight distortion rather than just bringing the volume down conventionally.
Then I’ve brought the maximizer down in volume on the top 4 params to compensate, and take a listen as I bring up the EQ treble amount to about just above ¾ – REALLY brightens that high end.
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 superman or saint Nickolas 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. If you spend days and it still isn’t getting there, my best advice is to do the best you can, even if you’re not 100% happy, and 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.
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 Progressive House song.
Mau5tastic. Nothing like a bit of polyrhythmic bass synth – I frickin’ love Sketch’s voice in that too.
Thanks for following along with my Prog House 7 day song – Now why don’t you sign up to the boyinaband.com forum to share critiques on the tracks you make to learn how you can improve as a producer?
Also, if you haven’t already, check out my 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!