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My single best general mixing tips is....

Discussion in 'Practice Room' started by RokitProd, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. RokitProd

    RokitProd Member

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    So figured I'd make this thread, as I'm sure most people on this site have gotten more than a few "AHA" experiences over the years mixing, and some of these are general and not specific to a certain mix, or atleast pretty close to general. Hopefully a lot of you guys are willing to share some of this info with everyone else, and I'll take the job of collecting all the info in the top post. This could be a great go-to "guide" for mixing tips and tricks (and a little magic too). It doesn't have to be super-advanced or anything, it could just be a thing you always or nearly always do when mixing!

    PS: I do realize there is another subforum which is more focused on production, so a mod can delete this post or move it if you feel like it shouldnt be in this subforum..!


    I'll go first;

    • High-pass/low-cut everything. However, be very sensitive about where you put the highpass on every instrument, as it's easy to cut away too much and make it sound "thin". -RokitProd
    • Don't abuse compressors. Sometimes it's only used for the master bus. Using EQ helps fit elements into the mix infinitely more than compressors. -ToneAddict
    • Only use a tool if the mix really needs and benefits from it. Start by doing a rough mix with purely volume and pan without automation. It will make you push yourself to thinking what the track really needs (if anything at all). Never process just for processing's sake. Use your ears, not your eyes. -rapucore
    • Mix a lot of different stuff, and go back to your mixes after a while to take note of what you would want to do better next time. -Mago (Check out http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-mtk.htm for multitracks in many different genres)
    • If your mix lacks "air" or presence, try exporting your full finished mix without any plugins active on the master track and bring it into the session, add a highpass filter to this track at around 17 kHz and start from 0 volume on the track and fade it into your mix. Be wary of any phasing. The same procedure can be also be used on any single track in your mix. An alternate way of achieving the same goal, is routing the master channel into a group/bus (or any other group you want to add more air to) and make a send with a HP filter on it. -RokitProd
    • Check your phase on all tracks. Check snare against OH, kick against snare. Bassguitar against kick, the bass and guitars against each other etc etc. That can make a MAJOR difference in how your mixing is going to be in terms of punch, width and depth. -crillemannen
    • When recording, strive to get everything as good as it can possibly get at core. The lesser processing you need on your tracks in mixing phase the better. Shit in shit out. Less is more. -Nicolás Daniel García Sordo
    • Your ears are more valuable than any hardware. Develop them instead of buying gear! -S1779 (rewritten :))
    • EQ'ing and mixing in mono is a really good way to find where things clash and where they won't because you won't be fooled by the stereo separation. If you get things to fit well in mono and switch back to stereo your mix will have a very good separation between all of the instruments. In mono it becomes much easier to hear for example where the low-end of the snare wants to sit when you're eq'ing, just sweep around and find the right frequency where the clashing mix element clashes the most when you're boosting with a tight Q-value, and then cut from there. -Vihaleipä
    • EQ Wise, try a low pass with your rhythm guitars around 7K. This seems very low but it actually works out well really good, and always attenuate the 4K area a bit for the vocals to come in. -MartijnPaauwe
    • Instead using an equalizer to cut some frequencies, using a multi band compressor can be a dynamic alternative. -MartijnPaauwe
    • Be wary about the 4kHz. It usually contains a harsh frequency that can be rough on the ears. Getting rid of most of this in especially guitars, will make your mix softer and, up for discussion, more comfortable to listen to over a period of time. -RokitProd
    • Prep. Prep prep prep. Editing is not mixing. Tuning is not mixing. Reamping is not mixing. Prep more. -JeffTD
    • PERFORMANCE and SOURCE TONE over anything. -Dans
    • Your ears are your most important tools. Learn how to hear individual instruments in a mix, and learn which frequency ranges are important to each instrument. Using a reference can be useful. -TBlackfeet
      PS: Using a reference is really helpful; be it a commercial song where you dig the production, or even just printing a reference point in your own mix, keep it in your project, and crosscheck it with any aditional tweaks you do to the mix. About frequencies; check out this link to train your ears: http://www.puremix.net/ear-training.html. Also, check out this frequency chart: http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/images/main_chart.jpg
    • Regarding workflow; Colour coding tracks, groups and auxes is incredibly useful and really speeds up your workflow. If your DAW supports it, go into settings and make the audio on the track match the colour of the tracks, so that the entire edit and mix windows will be colour coded. -Random3
    • Before mixing and EQ'ing anything; make sure you got the best possible volume balance of your tracks. The backbone of a powerful mix, is that all the instruments are in relative volume balance with eachother. -Ngoc


    Your turn! :popcorn:
     
  2. ToneAddict

    ToneAddict Elite Studios

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    Let me critique your tips. 4k is a nasty area for harshness, but be very conservative on what you cut from the around there because all the energy in the mix will go down the drain if you take out too much. I've heard from other pros that harshness from that range starts to go away with more experience just from more strategic mixing techniques and I'm starting to find that to be true. High and low pass is another thing where you want to be conservative. Too much and your mix has no low end. Even when it seems like an innocent cut. FabFilter's proq2 has a solo feature when doing EQ that helps with this a lot.

    I guess my tip would be, compressors only get used when messing with the fader for a few minutes doesn't help fit the instrument into the mix. Sometimes compressors only get used on the master buss. EQing helps fit elements into the mix infinitely more than compressors.
     
  3. rapucore

    rapucore i really hate spiders

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    Surely you mean a lowcut? ;)



    In all seriousness, best (albeit long) tip there is:

    Every mix is subjective, reach for a tool only if it really needs and benefits from it. Start a song by doing a rough mix and making the best mix you can with just volume and pan in a static position (of course they don't have to stay that way, automation is love). That way you'll push yourself to thinking what the track really needs if anything at all, as you have a superb starting position. Never process just for processing's sake. And a classic tip: use your ears, not your eyes.
     
  4. MartijnPaauwe

    MartijnPaauwe Member

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    Interesting idea, but this is definitely in the wrong subforum
     
  5. Mago

    Mago Austrian Blech Machine

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    my single best mixing tip would be to just mix a lot of different stuff, always listen back after a while to take note of what you want to do better next time.
     
  6. RokitProd

    RokitProd Member

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    Great tips guys!

    ToneAddict: I agree that 4k does bring some kind of energy to a mix, but its a frequency that brings alot of fatigue to your ears aswell, and the energy should come from somewhere else. Priority 1 from a good mix, atleast IMO, should be that it is pleasant to listen to. There is a ton of energy in the frequencies above 4k that doesnt hurt your ears. Once you've put a narrow 4k cut on your mix, a/b it on/off, and decide whether or not to use the EQ in your final mix. About highpassing, I agree 100% that you really need to be subtle like i said in the "tip", and if you don't have good monitors you should leave it abit lower than where you hear its starting to make a difference in sound just to be on the safe side that you're not wrecking the warmth of the instrument! Nice tip too man, I think alot of people gets lost in their compressors without thinking if thats really the best way to solve the problem!

    rapucore: typo fixed :D And great tip again! I just did exactly that on a pop-rock mix :)

    Martijn - I know dude, realized too late.. I'm always in this subforum, kinda forgot there were others :D I also typed that a mod can move/delete the thread if it doesnt belong here

    Mago - Definitely!! Mixing different stuff and genres develops your ear more than anything

    Keep em coming :)
     
  7. crillemannen

    crillemannen Member

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    Your tips suck haha!


    Sounds very unprofessional and newb tips to me.







    I'll give you a good one instead... Check your phase on all tracks. Check snare against OH, kick against snare. Bassguitar against kick, the bass and guitars against each other etc etc. That can make a MAJOR difference in how your mixing is going to be in terms of punch, width and depth.
     
  8. Nicolás Daniel García Sordo

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    My english sucks, so I´ll be brief with sharing the tips are working for me:

    1. Less is more
    2. Preferably Eq with microphones positions, not with Equalizer.
    3. Spend the most of your time on recording process. Better recording tracks, less processing on mix....which is translate on better harmonics, better dynamics.
    4. Enjoy and vibrate with every second of the production process, because it will reflect on the final result.
     
  9. RokitProd

    RokitProd Member

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    I agree these tips are kinda unconventional, and that they might sound like noob tips to you or anyone else with experience in mixing, but in MY ears doing those things makes alot of sense.. You can proabably solve the 4k "problem area" by reducing the impact of that frequence in each track seperately, or maybe you even like what the 4k gives your mix in terms of presence, idk. For me, I hate that frequence, and straight out cutting it seems like an easy way to solve it :)

    The "air-track" tip is actually inspired by Joey Sturgis, whom I know does this in alot of his mixes. Getting the balance right between the main tracks and your air-track is all about taste, but it really gives a lot of clarity to any mix, atleast in my experience. This is not something I'll always do, but I keep in my tricks-bag for when I feel like a mix is in a really good place, and it just needs some more clarity. (I have done it in recent mixes a lot). Instead of doing this for the entire duration of a song, you can also fade the air track in in a certain part of the song, just to make it "jump out" a little

    IMO, it's what you hear that is the main priority, and for my ears, it sounds way better when I do stuff like these. I live by the rule that there are no rules in mixing :)

    Any of the tips posted here should ofcourse be up for discussion, but I feel like bashing me for writing what I do is not a great way to start off a discussion :D


    Great tips about phasing, gonna add it to the list!
     
  10. RokitProd

    RokitProd Member

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    I think this is imporant, atleast if you are a recording engineer or artist! I rewrote it into 1 line, hopefully I got the gest of it :)
     
  11. S1770

    S1770 Member

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    "The most valuable piece of Hardware you will never need to purchase you are born with your ears, Use them and Trust them"

    Throw the rest of the shit out the Door.

    Cheers
    Richard Dalton
     
  12. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    Not trying to be a dick but this is ridiculous.

    Thread Title: SINGLE BEST MIXING TIP

    Thread: Pull 18db at 4k.

    I hope no young aspiring engineers see this, it could set them back a decade. lol
     
  13. ReampZone

    ReampZone \m/

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    My biggest tip is: Quad tracked guitars!
     
  14. rapucore

    rapucore i really hate spiders

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    Hugely dependent on the genre, song, style, sound etc.
     
  15. Vihaleipä

    Vihaleipä Member

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    +1 I can't really see any situation where I'd notch -18 dB out of anything, yes the harshness is usually in the upper midrange but I'd rather notch the harsh frequency from the individual sound that has it (cymbals or heavily distorted guitars for example tend to have this kind of harsh fizz peaks that will want to eat lots of headroom from the mix). If the 4 kHz zone is really present in all of the instruments (I don't really see that happening but what I know, I don't really consider myself as a mixing authority), then maybe do a broad 1-3 dB cut from that zone, rather than notch one single frequency entirely out.

    Also I really agree that quad tracking is really a preference thing, I for instance don't really like it at all. And since this thread seems to be about mixing tips, eqing (and mixing) in mono is a really good way to find where things clash and where they won't because you won't be fooled of by the stereo separation, if you get things to fit well in mono when you'll flip back to stereo your mix will have a very good separation between all of the instruments. When you hear all of the instruments sitting in the center overlapping each other, it becomes much easier to hear for example where the low-end of the snare wants to sit when you're eqing, just sweep around and find the right frequency where the clashing mix element clashes the most when you're boosting with a tight Q-value, and then cut from there.
     
  16. MartijnPaauwe

    MartijnPaauwe Member

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    Well, since I don't only want to criticize the OP I think I can give a tip ;)

    - EQ Wise, try a low pass with your rhythm guitars around 7K. This seems very low but it actually works out well really good, and always attenuate the 4K area a bit for the vocals to come in.
    - Instead using an equalizer to cut some frequencies, try using a multi band compressor sometime
     
  17. RokitProd

    RokitProd Member

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    Alright alright I hear you guys. I'll still be using the 4k cut myself, but I'll rewrite the tip so that it is more of a general thing lol

    Good tips too fellas! Some of these I need to get into my own workflow!!
     
  18. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    Prep. Prep prep prep.

    Editing is not mixing.

    Tuning is not mixing.

    Reamping is not mixing.

    Prep more.
     
  19. Dans

    Dans Member

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    Not really a mixing tip but this is way too crucial:
    PERFORMANCE and SOURCE TONE over anything.
     
  20. RokitProd

    RokitProd Member

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    JeffTD and Dans, I feel like this already has been covered in an earlier "tip", but I've added them none the less. Doesn't hurt that this is mentioned several times as it's so crucial for the final mix!
     

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