Post by AutumnWatch on Dec 31, 2022 13:38:18 GMT -5
I'm relatively new to mixing/mastering, so I thought it would be good to start a thread where anyone can discuss how they approach it, reading suggestions, tips, etc.
To start, I'm fairly comfortable in getting a decent sound from panning and adjusting volumes in a track, but don't know as much when it comes to things such as eq-ing, using reverb and compression, etc., and am not too sure about the big difference between mixing and mastering (beyond a vague google search). I'm considering getting "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook" to read and refer to, if anyone is familiar with that?
Post by Damage Cloud on Jan 3, 2023 21:09:42 GMT -5
spend 99.9% of the time on getting the volume right
use eq to reduce highs, mids, or lows on a track if you feel a frequency range has too much build up
you almost never *need* compression if you aren't using a microphone
mixing is making sure each individual instrument track combines in a nice way, where you can hear everything you need to hear. mastering is adjusting things on the overall audio signal and not just the individual tracks.
from a "proper mixing" standpoint you barely want to touch the master
Post by Old Moth Dreams on Jan 4, 2023 12:50:58 GMT -5
Aside from more technical concerns, after you've gotten to what you feel like is a good mix/master, listen to the final mix on a few different sound systems than the one you produced it on, preferably of varying quality. Sometimes things may sound a bit different when playback isn't on monitors or headphones, and those differences might not be good. Also, when you've got your final mix, don't release it immediately, and don't listen to it all for a few days. Then step back with a fresh mindset to make sure you're still happy with the sound before you proceed with the release. Good luck!
I think the thing I get the most value out of while mixing is doing a first EQ pass of "what can I take out of this track and have it still sound the same?"
So on a drum track, even if you have really active cymbals, you might be introducing a lot of noise at the high end that doesn't really improve how it sounds. Put a lowpass on it or just EQ down that last band and see if it sounds the same. Move things around until it sounds muffled/not right and then just put that slider back a little bit.
An example is the drums on a track I finished for an upcoming release:
I cut the very end of the bottom to avoid any rumbling, carve out a little at ~200hz because it was too boomy, carve a little more out ~700hz because it sounded better without it, and then chop the very top off. It sounds almost the same, but it will not get in the way of the other tracks as much.
And then here's some strings:
They were a little too screechy at the top, so I toned them down a bit. And then since violins don't have much going on down low anyway, and I have cello in another track, I chopped off the low end pretty drastically.
If I turn the plugin on and off, you almost can't even tell I did anything, but when I play the whole track, it doesn't feel as muddy as it did before.
Going through each one and cleaning out stray stuff can help a lot. Obviously this is all subjective, and sometimes you want everything to overlap a little, but I've found that for a lot of songs it helps take care of places there are conflicts between instruments that you may not be able to hear, but affects the final mix.
Last Edit: Jan 4, 2023 17:06:04 GMT -5 by RangerRick: bbcode, not markdown ;)
The best tip for mastering is to put yourself in position to do as little with it as possible -- meaning do as much as you can to get the sound you want in mixing.
The best tip for mixing is to put yourself in position to do as little with it as possible -- meaning do as much as you can to get the sound you want within your original sound sources/recordings.
While these don't answer the question about actually mixing/mastering, it's still the best answer. I would only add that besides getting the best (relative to what you are after) sounds from recording/samples to begin with, a good arrangement will take you a long way on making the mixing part easy and quick as possible. Be mindful on what happens at the same time, which instruments/sounds are overlapping and what are their timbres and registers and so on.
For actual mixing stuff, be wary of soloing channels. Sometimes it's necessary, but the main goal is to make them sound good together, not individually, and when you listen them solo, you might hear things that feel weak, and then boost them various ways, only to find that the weakness was already addressed by some other sound.
As RangerRick said, low/high passing is useful if you have lot of sounds with unnecessary frequencies, but this is something you should already have worked on in recording/sound selection/sound design phase. But ofc these phases overlap more or less when making a song. Personally I prefer using shelfs instead of passes, rarely I want to cut everything out. Lowering the highs and lows few db's is usually enough to get rid of too much information, without making it sound stale and dry. If there's loads of unwanted rumbling in the bass freqs, I will use cuts as well.
Depending on your daw and how it works, you'd want to have a track plugin that you use for volume and panning automation when arranging, so that when you start mixing, you can use the faders and pan pot for setting the levels without having to move the automations. In general, volume and pan will be your main thing when mixing. If you have good sources, clean arrangement and have spent time getting the volumes and pans right, you most likely have a good mix that supports the song well. At this point you can continue sculpting the mix more with compressors, saturation, sidechaining stuff with compressors and gates, playing around with reverbs and delays, but in my workflow I tend to see these things more about overall sound design than strictly mixing.
Also, using reference tracks is super useful. Take a song you know well, that has similar soundscape you are after, and throw it in your daw. A/B listen to it and your track, check how it looks on various tools like stereo field information, frequency spectrum etc. And figure out how to get there with your song.
Echoing what RangerRick said, subtractive eq is your best friend. A lot of the sounds I use come from a single casio keyboard and the voices occupy a pretty similar frequency space. I do a lot of drastic cuts to get parts to stand out or sit back, and that’s really the extent of my mixing now. I used to obsess more about getting levels just right and taming every peak and clip, but ultimately my mixes sounded worse to my ears when I did that. I also think it’s important to consider the way most listeners will experience your music. If it’s gonna be through phone speakers on bandcamp, then it doesn’t hurt to take a pass at mix notes through phone speakers. As good as a song may sound through high quality headphones or monitors, cheap speakers are gonna reveal your weak points.
Yeah, there is no replacement for listening to your song in a lot of environments. I start out on “ok” headphones when I’m writing stuff a lot of the time because they’re convenient at my desk. But when I’m “done” (ha ha! you’re never done!) mixing everything, I listen on my AirPods, and in my car, and on my phone, and on my Bluetooth speaker, each time listening for things that sound overbearing or are missing. This usually exposes the places where you have a lot of overlapping between tracks.
Last Edit: Jan 5, 2023 7:26:30 GMT -5 by RangerRick