Mix Advice – If You Have To Make It Loud

The art and science of mixing is a complex affair; the more you learn about it, the more you realise you have barely scratched the surface. However, there are a few general principles that can bring immediate and significant improvements to most mixes…

Yep, He Did It Again

I while ago I referenced a very interesting thread on the Cockos forum which was initiated by Yep. If you didn’t read it, then go there and check it out – it is probably the most informative production thread you will ever find.

On page 15 of the thread, someone asked what was the best way to make a mix really loud. Yep’s answer was so concise that another forum member decided to convert it into a poem:

Ode To Loudness

Akai 4000DS 2
Akai 4000DS
Akai 4000DS 3

Shelve down
all the lows and lower mids
on the master out
a few dB more
than you otherwise would
(let the listener adjust the tone controls).
This will free up a lot of headroom
to turn up the presence range.

Clip or limit all transients
shorter than a few ms.
Pan strategically,
and dynamically
as necessary,
to maximize use of both channels.

Send the bass into a fast compressor
with the drums triggering the side-chain
to clamp down on big bass waves
during drum transients.

Similarly, use vocals
into the side-chain
of a slower compressor
to duck guitars/synths slightly during singing,
which will allow you
to crank
the guitar/synth

Don’t Let The Mix Fall Flat

Of course, it’s not advisable to compete ‘at the highest level’ in the loudness wars – if you take all the dynamics out of the mix, it will sound flat and lifeless. Knowing how loud is too loud is an essential skill, and making this decision is probably best left to a third-party mastering expert.

If you have to do your own mastering, then maybe you should try the TT Dynamic Range Meter plugin. This is a VST/AU/RTAS plugin that can visually indicate the depth of dynamics in your mix, either in real time or by processing an entire mix.

For more insight into this tool and general mastering advice, check out Ian Shepherd’s blog


Home | Canabrism | Guides | All Music Technology Posts | XML Sitemap