So, what makes a great mix, there are many good mixes, but what makes a great mix? It starts with the recording chain. The mixer, hardware or software mixer should be set where the white or grey lines are, this is a start. As a Jr Recording Engineer, so many years ago, my job was to see who was on the list to be recorded, what instruments, style of music, any notes the artist gave, the SR. Engineers instructions and notes, than off to the room to set up. I would than do what’s called a basic mix, meaning setting up the channel strip, say Guitar I would set to the normal frequency and the same on the rest of the instruments, this is a basic working mix, many new musicians do the same, and go no further.
This is step one, but you will need to tweak as you go, this takes years of practice, learning what’s called the stereo spectrum. Placing sounds properly in the stereo field. Many sounds may be all in the 1.5 to 2.5 Khz range this is normal, what you end up doing is masking sounds, you recorded that sound you can not hear, due to other sounds fighting for the same range, this is where EQ comes in and stereo placement. Put some sounds panned to the left, others the right, add some EQ and on some, some effects to make them sit back in the mix, but are now where you can hear them, sounds easy, OK, .
When mixing down you ride the faders, this is simple enough and you know when a solo is coming up so you ride the fader up and slowly not fast lower it.
A solid intro and ending fade is a must, many need to work on fading out, takes practice, many songs I hear have are awful on the fad, to slow, or to fast, to fast of a fad is the norm, slowly, lower the master stereo faders it takes practice, but you can do it.
Many make the mistake of using too much EQ, this will make a muddy sound, or a sound that over time kills the ears. Bass is important, it must be heard, waves has a great plug in just for this, a simple plug in, it does not change the volume of the bass, but it makes it stand out, complex to explain, but wow what a great little plug in, just for the bass. You may not have a waves bundle, they are not cheap some 2-3K or more. There are many free plug ins that can do the job, on this blog I have given links to great free VSTi’s and VST effects, amazing.
If you have not read the page on where to get these unreal free VSTI’s and VST’s do so, the sampler alone is as good as my samplers I use, I now use the free one more I kid you not, esp. for strings.
Over use of effects, compression, EQ, can be an over kill, always record dry and add the effects after. Aside from maybe some compression on bass drums and bass so you do not peak out.
You can listen to your great solo vox as your singing with some reverb, but it is recorded dry, it is hard to sing as you would when hearing your self dry in the cans.
A great mix will make great use of the stereo field this and sparse use of EQ and effects will make your song shine, a lot of effects will not make a album filler , sub par song sound great, a great song is great with a vox and one instrument, all else is more sounds. what is already great, is great with little, little is better. I have songs with a lot of effects, certain songs require wild effects just think PINK Floyd, and others, I use tons of effects, but in proper sequence and laid out in the proper way. To get a fat lead axe or pad sound, try and double the track, pan to left and right - not completely to left and right 30-40% left and right and it will stand out , sound great in both eras and add depth.
I will write more on a great mix in my next post, till next time, keep on making music and have a creative week.