Music Mixing Tips
Mixing is where it all comes together whether you are a band or electronic musician – it is an important stage. As a band, you might mix during a separate session with some other band members or as an electronic musician you may well mix as you produce a track. In any event, some useful tips follow for getting an improved mix down.
1)Try and install, at the least some, minimal acoustic treatments. They will assist every mix you do and help you get better results. Side wall absorbers, a ceiling cloud and a few broadband bass traps will help neutralize your room acoustics. It need not be costly if you can do a little DIY.
2)Wherever possible, try to get your loudspeakers as far from the room corners as is possible to do so. This reduces bass tip up. (This is an artificial increase in bass loudness) It is especially prevalent with speakers with bass reflex ports on their back panel.
3)Isolate your speakers from whatever they are resting on. Use an acoustic tile to reduce vibrations and resonances transmitting into supports (desks/stands etc.) This will clear up the stereo image a little and improve clarity.
4)Tweak your mix and re-listen (read: finish) the following morning, try not to finalize mix downs late at night when you are most tired and least alert.
5)By all means, import a well mixed track into your DAW and compare and contrast with your own mix. Try and identify what can and cannot be improved in your track against the professionally mixed reference. As the track will have been mastered level, match the imported reference by bringing down the level so your mix and the track appear at the same volumes. This is a great way to judge bass levels when working on a monitoring system that is not familiar or completely accurate.
6)Back up your mix files frequently. Purchase a low cost USB 2.0 hard drive and simply drag and drop the audio files and mix session files at the end of each day. Hard drives break – it’s a matter of when not if so make this a regular habit.
7)Try bouncing your mix out and listen on other systems, car hi fi, small stereo and make a few notes. Then come back and consider any tweaks and double check them on your main studio speakers.
8)Try checking your mix down in mono fairly frequently. Ensure that bass levels remains the same and kick drum and snare remain punchy and up front. This will help make the mix sound bigger on compromised play back systems and of course those that are themselves mono. You can usually do this by panning both panners on the stereo bus centrally if you do not have a mono button on your monitor controller or software output bus.
9)Wherever possible, try and have your loudspeakers equidistant from your monitoring position. In most cases, an isosceles triangle created with your 2 monitors and head will give the best stereo imaging. Position so your ear is aligned with the tweeter of the speaker. (Small driver). Ideal Left – Right monitor spacing would be 6 feet.
10)If you have reflex loaded speakers, try blocking up the port for a different perspective on the balance of bass notes. Lower cost reflex loaded speakers can create an inaccuracy around the ports resonant frequency and by blocking the port you create a smoother bass roll off which should give a slightly more accurate representation. Although, the trade-off will be that there will be less perceived bass output from the loudspeaker. This technique can also be used if you are unable to get your speakers out of the room corners as it will reduce bass output countering the bass tip up highlighted in point 2.
Barry Gardner operates SafeandSound mastering an online based mastering studio working with all musical styles.
Mastering dance music, low cost, high end analog audio mastering.