Mix Prep Top 10 Guide
- Label the tracks! You would be amazed at how often tracks are unlabelled or not labelled correctly, use shorthand text. e.g. LV = Lead Vocal.
- Be careful with Edits Listen to tracks soloed on headphones to make sure there are no pops or clicks, especially at the start and end of audio files, let the track breathe, and remember to not fade out tracks too abruptly, use cross-fades for fast edits. The tempo dictates the speed of fades and it creates space and depth creating a more expensive sound.
- Fix it in the Recording not the mix If something is recorded clipped or too distorted, it can’t be fixed in digital audio, the key here is HEADROOM, try and aim for -18dBFS as the average level, with peaks at around -10dBFS>-6dBFS, this means there’s plenty of room to add effects such as distortion plug-ins, compression and EQ later on.
- Commit! This is often the difference between something being amazing and something being good. If you have a hardware compressor on the drums when recording and it sounds great, it’s better to commit to that sound than spend hours and hours later trying to re-create it. Hit Record whilst you are still inspired.
- Arrangement When you have a bad arrangement, it’s like being given a glass that’s half empty, you are robbing the audience of the chance of your track rising above everything else, just think of the Beatles Yesterday without the String Arrangement, it would still be great, but not as special.
- Patience Remember that it’s not going to be perfect the first time and recording takes hard work and hours and hours of dedication, even the greatest musicians in the world have made a lot of mistakes to get to where they are.
- Have Fun! Remember to not get bogged down and remember that being creative is a lot of fun, if you aren’t enjoying it, then it’s time to have a break and come back to the track you are working on with fresh ears.
- Emotion This is very overlooked, especially by new bands who are expecting instant stardom, music is an emotional connection, you are engaging and expressing emotions, thoughts, feelings, if it’s not coming across how you imagined it, you need to work on your performance and come back to it, when it’s right you will feel it is right in your soul.
- Tuning Making sure all the instruments are in tune is very important, this might sound obvious, but an out of tune guitar that is slightly flat or sharp will ruin an entire mix, it can’t be fixed and will always be a compromise.
- Timing Another obvious one I know, but all it takes is one instrument playing too late to ruin the whole groove of a band, it can be edited and made to fit, but it takes away something magical about the original performance. You don’t have to be a machine, the most important thing especially for bands is KNOWING when you aren’t in the same groove as each other, it’s an intuition that has to be learnt through experience.
written by Ben Tyreman ©2016