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What are your three best tips for a great mix? 07-13-01

SweetwaterSound

What are your three best tips for a great mix? Tell us your method. Do you start with the bass? Do you start with the vocals? What are your secrets?
July 13, 2001 @09:59pm
FretmanSam

I run through the track to hear what drives the song and where it's going. I start with the kick and snare, followed by overheads-to give me a tonal balance and reference point for the toms...then I mix the bass. I get a better foundation that way. Try running the whole mix through an exciter or BBE. If it sounds boxy and dull, thin out the guitars, vocals and such to make them stand out more. Compensate by adding a touch of volume as you thin. Stick a white noise generator into a compressor side chain triggered to open when the snare is hit. Or run a 400Hz tone and do the same with the bass drum.
July 14, 2001 @12:26am
Unregistered

Best advice I can give while doing a mix is: 1.) Go to Radio Shack and purchasing the cheapest pair of speakers they have like the Optimus 40`s or the tiny Optimus 7`s. 2.) Get your drums and bass pumpimg in those little jammies and you`ll have a great mix on any sytem. 3.) It helps to have a nice monitoring system like Mackies or Genelecs really justifies a mix. (Obviously all of these tips should be done with the volume at a comfortable level.) Peace and Happy Mixing!
July 14, 2001 @02:41pm
don_l_turner

I'll be watching the posts to this question closely. I could have used some good advise on mixing when I bought my gear a year ago. My tips are based on my struggles:
1. Don't try to figure it by yourself. Get advise and training up front and get skilled people to review your progress to offer suggestions.
2. Ease up on the reverb (now I tell me!)
3. Let the mix (and your ears) rest for a few days and listen again.
I just finished my first CD project; and boy do I still have a lot to learn. Please clue me in so maybe I can do better next time.
July 15, 2001 @04:40pm
Unregistered

My suggestions are:
1. Do your basic rough mix that makes the song feel good to you. Then listen to it on many different systems,Car stereo, boom box, your home stereo and your friends stereos. They'll probably all sound different but it will also point out obvious things you will want to modify.
2. Don't try to hide things behind effects. By this I mean some people are uncomfortable hearing their voice or their playing "naked and out in the open". I think some of the best recordings allow a performers character and texture to stand on its own lending an honesty to the sound.
3.Decide what makes the song speak. Use this to orchestrate what the song is about and what its saying. Once you decide what the major components of the song are, it could be as simple as the vocal melody over a bass drum pulse. Bring the supporting instruments or backing vocals in like splashes of color. Just because the drummer has been practicing their Dave Weckl licks for the last two years or the guitarist has finely honed their sweep-picking technique doesn't mean it has to be used. The best advise I ever read about mixing was about the value of the Mute button. If you find something keeps drawing your attention away from the song, Mute it!
July 15, 2001 @07:01pm
Unregistered

3 most important things to a great mix, IMO, start's with the tracking.
1. Proper microphone selection, the mic is the most important part of the chain. (choose one that captures the natural dynamic range of the vocal or instrument being tracked)
2. Proper mic placement. Close micing when possible increases signal to noise ratio, providing optimum clarity. You can always add a room mic for ambience, but it pays to have the original track clean as possible.
3. Track Flat and close to -0, ( allows the most control on mixdown and utilization of bits)
All mixes are different.
Following these 3 rules outweighs any tips that I can give on (after the fact) mixdown.
Ronny Morris
RoMo Digitak Editing Systems
July 15, 2001 @10:52pm
Lambo

Three best tips for a great mix:
1) Make sure the tracks are what you want before mixing. The idea of waiting to "fix it in the mix" IMHO is too late.
2) Just because you have all of the goodies (numerous tracks, mega polyphony, signal processors, effects processors etc.) doesn't mean you have to use them. Remember the rule of thumb: less is more.
3) Listen to professionally recorded material through your system before mixing to understand the inherent nuances in your set-up and mix accordingly.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO HAVE FUN WITH IT!
July 15, 2001 @11:18pm
Sporter

I've found with all the new affordable software, like Sound Forge, it's easy to go overboard. So I guess the tip I keep having to give myself is back off, keep it simple, and try to get a good sound that doesn't draw attention to the effects and various sweeteners. Adding stuff sparingly and tastefully from this point is usually productive.
July 16, 2001 @03:25pm
aboutfaceaudio

1) Separation. Listen to each part and determine where it is in the mix. Is it too loud? Cut back on the volume. Is it in the right place frequencywise? Use EQ to cut or boost. Single out pieces and work it out.
2) Subtract. see what you can do without rather than see what you can add.
3) Walk away. Come back in a few days. Leave your mix up on the board. When you come back it may sound fine or it may be the worst thing you ever heard. You may start from scratch and that would be cool too. Don't get too married to known quantities. It's different every time, no matter who you are.
Mix early and often.
July 16, 2001 @05:12pm
Unregistered

Here's a few:
1: Performance Performance Performance!! Especially in the drums, there's *nothing* that makes a recording sound amateur like inconsistent playing! Get the drum kit sounding impeccable even before throwing mics on it, and make sure the hits are perfectly consistent in both timing and velocity.
2: Air - Better to have lots of tracks with not much on it than few tracks which are packed by playing. Ex - instead of using a busier drum groove, fill the space with perc. Or instead of going nuts on a guitar line, mix 4 much simpler lines together. You don't need to use them all at once, either! Less is more, use lots of 'filler', but keep it way back in the mix, so you don't hear it on first listen, but you'll notice if it's gone.
3. Room - some people like working in dead environments.. I'm the opposite. I'm a firm believer in the importance of the room - for a big fat Nashville drum sound (ha!) try tracking the drums in a big reverberant church. On top of the overheads, lift the room mics as high as you can get them (comp the snot out of them too!). If you want an in-your-face dry vocal sound, though, using a small room (very little reflections, but still bright ones) is the way to go. It makes a huge difference! It's worth it to haul your gear to different locations if you can.
I know this is supposed to be for mix tips, but I believe that in order to get a decent mix you need great tracks to work with. Great tracking is probably more important to mixing than mixing is itself!
Hope this helps.. :-)
July 16, 2001 @06:51pm
FrontOfHouse

My tips for mixing come from my experiences as a Live Sound Engineer, but could be useful in the studio.
1. It's said that you should find the right mic for the job and place it properly so that you can ge the most out of the mic with less E.Q. I agree. I think that the most important aspect about the mix is the frequency response of the mix and it's marriage to the response of the room. Anyone can mix house or monitors, but not everyone can make them sound prestine. Know your frequencies and you can set up the entire mix and it's individual components with very little outboard gear.
2. Gain Structure. Use you PFL meter, not your ears, when setting up your gain structure. After touring with an act you get to know what the gain structure should look like for certain direct instruments or vocals. If you don't have a monitor engineer, and you are relying on someone you just met for driving the board, you might remind them use this feature on the console. There are many times that I ask an rental company engineer to just bring it up in the house with the PFL and I will go cold and the gains are all over the place.
3. Balance. Your understanding of applied and psycho acoustics can lead to some on the best balanced mixes. No one ever walked away from the show exuberant about the hi-hat. You should be able to concentrate on any one thing at a time and clearly hear it.
I could go on and on, but the limit is three right?
July 16, 2001 @09:06pm
sean

I've found the following to be
useful.
1) Mix at different volumes
2) The person tracking the session
shouldn't be the person mixing it.
3) Try not to track and mix on the same day.
4) Try mixing again on another day.
July 17, 2001 @09:15pm
Guest #2528

I like to check out the mix on headphones and speakers. Also the first thing the next morning, I listen again, and I usually find flaws in the mix, since my ears are fresh.
It's not just about being able to hear everything, it's about stressing the proper instruments and making sure certain tracks don't jump at the listener or make their ear mad.
Ultimately, put yourself in the place of your audience. Act like you're listening to the mix for the first time (this is done best by listening again the next morning) and try listening passively at least once and see if anything sounds wrong and go back and fix that mix.
July 18, 2001 @02:41am
BIGMIXMOSBEY

First above all,
I disagree with Dr.Groove. I'm suprized that sweetwater hasn't chewed on you yet. For everyone's info, there are many top 40 hits that you hear on your radio that were recorded inside home/project studios. The "industry" does really shout that from the roof tops, because it cuts into the funds of the "Pro" studio that Dr. Groove is trying to push so hard. There is only one tip I can give that will always stay no matter what! You must have a gift for mixing. There is no set practice. When you learn your mixer and outboard gear, like a guitarist with effect pedals, you know how to make things sound and mix together. It takes many terrible mixes, good mixes, and then great mixes before you have the "gift". Give me the best microphones, the best console, the best rooms, and the best gear and then give someone that does not know their gear or EQing, and I'll give you a bad mix. But, give me your worst mic, worst mixer, you cheapest gear, then give me an engineer that has developed their "gift" for mixing and I'll hand you a mix that will rival $30,000.00 recordings.
Hey home studio guys and gals, you can make a great mix in your home studio, keep up the good work.
July 19, 2001 @03:20pm
Unregistered

I like to start with the drums. I agree with other posts, if the drums ain't happening, nothing is happening... You have to make sure the drummer knows how to drum! Tuning new heads and making sure you use proper heads for the songs also helps.
I teach drummers to not hit hard, but hit fast. There is a difference ya know. I use as little EQ as possible on drums, but I have found an EQ for our live end/dead end room. Our room tends to be a bit "boxy" so I roll of some 300hz and nudge up over 5k.. It helps to know your room. A good room is worth any instrument or mixer you own. Check out our room, it's an excellent tracking room.
http://www.brokenrecords.com/studio/images/mainroom.jpg
Next up is the bass. I try and sit the bass in with the drums and of course, the performance is what really makes the rhythm section work. Ever hear a kick drum without a bass note attached to it? Kinda wimpy..
And the rest of course is placement of tracks, covering the frequencies, making sure the vocal sits in the mix..
All the standard stuff!
July 20, 2001 @04:30am