The mixing is done to extract the best of all your tracks in the general mix, adjusting levels, orienting and applying effects that play over time (chorus, reverb, delay). The main objective is to sculpt your arrangements so all your tracks are linked coherently with each other.
A multitrack recording is nothing more than a group of tracks playing together (also known as stems). There is no preset number of tracks. Although you will need at least one. The result obtained from a multitrack recording is also known as a final mix. This final mix is the starting point of the mastering.
It does not matter if you’re recording with microphones, preamps or using samples. Learning to mix is extremely important. By taking control of your artistic and creative vision, your music will be at another level. And that will make you a better producer.
Start with these basic tips. I assure you that they will turn your mixtures into something much better before you go deeper.
Choose your program to mix
There are many programs to choose from. They are also known as DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). It all depends on which one best suits your needs. These are some with which you could start:
FL Studio 11
Studio One 3
Try to get to know your DAW intimately. As a wise audio mixer, it is important to limit yourself to a single program and get to know it thoroughly. Do not be unfaithful. Follow him and everything will be advantages.
I will use Pro Tools as an example, but all the concepts are the same, no matter where you run them.
Preparation of your mixing section
Most programs will provide you with some templates if you are not sure how to start.
For example, Pro Tools includes a template called “Rock” that opens a default session with channels for:
Drum / Bass / Organ / Guitar / 4 empty tracks for recording / Metronome / Headphone routing / Return of reverb / Return of delay / Return of chorus / Guitar solo that appears at minute 3:42
Although this is a simple template, you can choose from many others. If none convinces you, you can create one. Creating templates is a great step to mark your style more. Perfect to turn on your computer and start from scratch.
Name your clues
It sounds simple, but believe me. In three months you will not be able to remember where your third shaker is if you leave it with the name “Track 48”. If you record a guitar, do yourself a favor and name it “Guitar” before pressing the record button. So you will not waste time in your sessions.
Mark the groups with colors
Honor the rainbow. Color your clues For example, you could make your yellow drums, all blue voices and green guitars.
The right mixture to work
Believe it or not, you’re already mixing before you start doing it.
Confused? I will explain it to you. What are the predominant textures that you want for your track? What kind of space do you want to create? With power and forward or away and with reflections. Try to get the full potential of your sounds, even if you just start recording. Imagine your track as a large and complete picture whenever you record or choose a new sound.
Optimize your original recordings as much as you can without adding excessive processing. Try to know from the first moment where you want to direct your mix. Limit yourself to using the best sounds from the beginning to avoid a hearing impalement later on.
Ride your sounds in Bus
Imagine a yellow bus. Now imagine your sounds being transported inside.
This is what the Bus does in a mix. By sending multiple sounds to a track (Bus) you can apply the same processes to all those tracks at the same time. It is very useful. Try using the Bus with batteries. It will allow you to process the entire battery as a unit. Use the same amount of reverb to give the impression that the entire battery is in the same place. Or insert a delay or create a compression Bus.
Experiment with what sounds you send to the Bus. I guarantee that you will get very rewarding results.
Balance your levels
It’s time to make a haircut to your mix. A cut here, a cut over there. Balance the levels and do not be afraid to make a big cut. Give more power to your battery in a single loop, put it on top of the whole voice during a verse.
Prepare a basic balance before going crazy with the effects. Adjust everything from the beginning.
Always think about leaving headroom.
Keep the final goal in mind while balancing your clues. This will give you a great idea of how all the combined tracks will sound at the end. Processing will polish all your initial ideas.
Plan the Panning
What is panning?
Panning is basically the width of a mix. It is the left-right amplitude in a stereo signal. Panning allows your sounds to position themselves correctly. Keep your low frequencies and bass sounds close to the center. I mean bass and drums. Use them as a central force around which you can work. If everything is in the center, your mix will sound flat and cloudy.
What is equalization?
All sound is made of frequencies. The frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz). Equalize is the art of powering, trimming and balancing all the frequencies in the mix to obtain the desired sound.
Think of the lower part of the frequency spectrum as Barry White. And imagine the high frequencies like Mariah Carey.
Normally, the frequency spectrum is divided into Highs, Mids (Medium) and Lows (Low). An instrument like the bass has very low frequencies and a very powerful sound. Alternatively a snare or a hi-hat are much finer, so it is normal to appear in the middle or high frequencies.
Although we could catalog these sounds in the highs or lows, all sounds always have important information in both the highs and lows. Keep this in mind while mixing.
Dynamic sounds have a wide space between the quietest and the loudest. For example, imagine the sound of a snare. It has a very fast peak that does not last long. This means that it has a very wide dynamic range. Compare that sound with the note of an organ.
It stays on the same level since you play the note until you release it. That is to have a small dynamic range.
Dynamics also exist in the global of an interpretation. A very obvious example is the singer’s low voice in the verse and then more intense in the chorus. Think of Mariah Carey again. The range between the quietest and the strongest is usually at 20db, which is a lot, especially when you try to balance other elements. Like that organ note without dynamics. These dynamics changes can make it more difficult to combine everything in the mix without applying some kind of control over them.