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Top 10 Mix Tips

Top 10 Mix Tips
September 12, 2018 Touch Loops

Mixing and production can be a tricky business with numerous moving parts and things to consider.  So with that in mind we thought we’d cover a few things that we found super useful when first starting out.  Note: We actually covered 12 tips not 10.. we just couldn’t stop.  Here’s our top 10 mixing tips:

1.     Experiment with different EQ and filter choices when high passing audio. 

We all have our favourite EQ and filter but have you ever listened to the different effects they have on your mix or track?  It’s worth checking as some poorly designed EQ’s can cause phase issues which can be particularly noticeable when high passing kicks and subs.

2.     Gain Staging

A term which is so often thrown around but what does it mean?  Basically it’s all about balancing levels so you’re not clipping channels OR plug-ins.  Now this is an important one and one which can easily be missed.  Take note of any red lights or extreme level changes that may be occurring.

“WHILST YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO HEAR 1 PLUG-IN CLIPPING IF THIS IS DONE CONSISTENTLY ACROSS ALL CHANNELS IN YOUR MIX YOU’LL SOON ACQUIRE COPIOUS AMOUNT OF UNWANTED DISTORTION.”

 

3.     Embrace Panning

Your speakers are in stereo so embrace that width.  It’s very easy to be scared of using panning or instantly reach for an EQ to separate clashing frequencies.  Spread out your mix but remember to try and keep the classic instruments in the middle like your bass, snare and kick.

 

4.    It’s all about the energy. 

Getting your track to really hit on a drop is all about energy transfer.  Try automating a high pass filter, slowly remove elements of great weight and energy or change the volume before a drop.  It’s that contrast that really matters.

“TRY AUTOMATING YOUR MASTER FADER IN BREAKDOWNS TO REALLY EMPHASISE THE DROP – A FEW DB CAN MAKE AN AMAZING DIFFERENCE.”

5.     Learn your speakers.

An obvious one but when first starting out don’t lose faith in the process.  Like any great instrument it takes time to learn your speakers.  What you can and can’t get away with, how they interact with your room, whether they are strangely bright or super dull.  Either way be patient, it’s often more beneficial than throwing money at the problem for a potential quick fix.

 

6.     Don’t turn down the master

The master fader in many Daw’s comes after the plug-ins on your master fader but what does this mean exactly?

It means if you max out the plug-ins on your master bus but turn down the fader you’ll still be heavilly clipping the plug-ins even though your VU read’s something quite low.

 

7.     Not all instruments can be the same volume. 

It’s a depressing moment of realisation but sometimes you just have to prioritise.  Ask yourself, what’s really important?!  Elements are aloud to be quieter in the mix giving you a more focused end product.

8.     Think 3-D

As well as mixes going left and right think forward and back.  We’re able to set things further back by using reverbs, delays and by turning down elements.

 

9.     Setting Reverb & Delay times. 

Delay times, pre-delays and reverb times can all be calculated to match your track tempo.  Even better, the amazing Nick Fever has created a great little site which allows you to calculate the times for your track .   Just chuck in your tempo and set your delays / reverbs to match.  The difference can be amazing.

Use the calculator

 

10.  Group your tracks

Grouping your tracks into ‘Drums, Bass, Synths, Leads, Vocals and Extras’ not only makes mixing incredibly easy it also allows you to batch process the tracks saving CPU, maintaining tonal continuity and also allowing a great level of control when gain staging.

11.  Set your master bus plug-ins to the loudest section. 

It’s an obvious one but I always set the levels of my Eq’s and compressors to the loudest section of my track.  That way I know the compressor will never be going crazy nor will I be clipping any plug-ins etc on my master bus in any other section of my track.

 

12.  Setting compressor times.

Compressor times can make a massive difference to how your mix feels so here’s our method for setting musical release times.

1. Set the threshold of your limiter to your desired level.  Now lower it so the dial is taking off an extra few db so you can clearly see the VU moving.

2. Watch the fader move which if on the master channel will usually be triggered by the kick.

3. Try and set the release time so that the compressor has reset back to 0 by the time the next kick comes in or in relation to your track’s tempo.

4.  This can be a little trial and error and sometimes goes by ‘feel’ but it’s worth taking the time to get it right.

5.  Raise the threshold to your previous level and there you have it – release times in time with your track.

 

The Touch Loops team.

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