What makes a Killer Mix and how do the pros approach creating one?
You've tracked all your parts. Or you've assembled your musicians on the stage. How do you get a Killer Mix?
Mixing is the process where you tweak and massage your tracks or live instruments with all the tools of the trade like volume, pan, EQ, compression, noise gates, crush busses, autotune, delay and reverb to build the final product that people get to listen to live or on a recorded mix.
It's such a fun process to use all those cool tools to build together a mix that you'll be proud to share. But with such a dizzying away of lights, knob, buttons and faders...it can be a little overwhelming.
I mean...where do you start?
The Three Step Method
I've always taught that the process of mixing is a three part one. Fix Problems, Build a Rough Mix, Polish the Mix.
The first one is obvious enough. We should go through each channel and see what we have.
Maybe a guitar track has a bunch of noise on it. Throw a noise gate on it. Perhaps the bass guitar track has a lot of dynamics in it...the levels are all over the place. Throw a compressor on it.
Perhaps the vocal has a nasally quality that you want to reduce. Scoop some mids around 1K out of it to hide those artifacts.
Building a Rough Mix
In the second part of the mixing process, the goal is to spend as little time as possible getting the mix to 80% or so of the way.
Bring up all the faders, spread the backing vocals out. Buss all the drums together with a subgroup or a DCA. Add some slap to the lead vocal.
Drop the lead vocal double down 6 dB. Pan the toms out. Basically do the simple work that needs to be done on virtually every mix to get it into the ball park.
But what about the ways the PROs Mix?
This is where we sort the wannabe rookies from the experienced pros. It's these "industry tricks" that can take a basic mix and make it truly professional.
Things like crush busses, interactive EQ and buss compression that will get you the rest of the way.
Free Home Recording and Live Sound Courses
Because it's hard to explain these concepts in a short article, I've put together all the resources you need in an exclusive Backstage Pass Area.
If you need to quickly know how to build a killer mix in both Home Recording or Live Sound applications then these are the resources you need. It's all part of the many free resources available in our free Backstage Area.
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