Mixing Down Your Track - A General Overview
Mixing down your track is easily the hardest part of production, and easily the most important. If you write a musical odyssey that puts Aphex Twin to shame, but don't mix it properly, it'll still sound unprofessional. Mixing tracks correctly is what lets producers write tracks that are plenty loud without being muddy, confused, or lacking in punch. So how do you do this?
First thing's first - mixing properly calls for proper monitoring. This can mean a lot of different things. It ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT mean you have to go buy $500 monitors just so you can mix. Will flat response monitors be useful? Of course. But can you get a good mix just using your headphones? Sure, but it takes a lot more work, and a lot more thought. If you can't get a hold of accurate monitors, listen to your track on as many systems as you possibly can. Listen through your computer, your headphones, your mother's headphones, your car, your boss' car, EVERYWHERE. Then look for trends and fix accordingly.
Now, most of the techniques for mixing have been covered somewhere else on the forum. EQ, compression, reverb, all that good stuff, you can find tutorials about it with a quick search. But no matter how good the hints and tips, there's one thing you will always have to remember: listen
. And I mean really, really listen to it. An EQ tutorial put it well... "Don't ask 'do I like this sound', but ask 'What is the function of this sound? what does it add to the track?'" You really do need to get that specific and that penetrative into your track if you want the mixdown to be any good.
Everyone has their own process for mixing. Generally, here's my order:
1. Write the track.
2. Figure out the levels.
4. Compress, limit, etc on each track, individually.
5. Compress, limit, EQ etc on the entire mix. This is called MASTERING.
I'll go over the basics of each step, other than writing the track.
2. Figuring out levels.
This one is pretty easily. Whichever element you think should be most important, set that level first. Then, one by one, add in tracks and put the level where you feel it's appropriate. Again, listen, and levels should be fine.
EQ is, in my opinion, the hardest because it takes the most juggling. You have to EQ each element as it relates to every other element of the song. If your sub takes up the lowest register, then EQ out that register from every other element. Generally, it's better to cut frequencies than to boost because you leave a lot of headroom for your song to be loud. There are plenty of tutorials around, so check it out. I suggest you start here: http://www.dnbscene.com/article/88-thin ... q-tutorial
4. Compress, limit, each track individually.
Again, plenty of tutorials are around. The idea is pretty simple: make each element sound good.
Mastering is a really tricky subject. A good mastering job should be subtle. A tiny bit of overall EQ if you need it, general compression is good, and maximizing if you really need it, but avoid it if you can. The thing to remember with mastering is that it affects absolutely everything. This isn't the stage to give the snare more crack. It's the stage to make sure everything is smoothed out and cohesive. It's hard to explain, but in general, good mastering makes a track sound professional. That said, mastering can't fix a poorly mixed track.
Alright. There's more stuff on all of this on the internet, on this forum, even in this thread. Get mixing.