Quick Mixing And Mastering Tips

It’s possible to create great recordings without hiring a professional studio – if you have the right techniques (and know what to listen for) you can produce high quality output with relatively basic equipment. Here are a few quick mixing and mastering tips to keep you on the straight and narrow…

Listen With Purpose

If you’re mixing, remember that each track will occupy a particular segment of the frequency spectrum, and this will vary depending on the sound/instrument you’re dealing with. If you blend too many tracks into a particular frequency range, they will conflict and create a muddy mix. Try to use EQ to remove unnecessary frequencies on each track – for a lead guitar, you may well not need anything below 200Hz, for example, so a high pass filter could help clear up this range, leaving room for the bass to poke through with greater clarity. You can use a frequency analysis plugin to visually detect the frequencies, but your ears should always be the number one guide for EQ settings.

Keep It Moving

Another key consideration is compression and headroom; you can make your mix louder by using a loudness maximiser (or separate compressors), but if you overdo this it can make the recording very tiresome to listen to. It’s vital to retain dynamics in your mix – the loud bits of a track should be notably louder than the quiet passages. In overcompressed music, this dynamic range is lost, and can ruin a great recording. Check out Ian Shepherd’s dynamic range meter plugin for some more information on dynamic range.

Let It Flow

When creating an album, it’s vital to consider the order of songs and how they flow into one another sonically, thematically and musically. Changing the order of tracks on an album can greatly influence its overall impact, so do spend some time considering how one song flows into another – even changing the length of the silence between songs can be significant here.

Know Your Environment

If you have a home studio, it’s important to set it up so your monitors (speakers) sound as good as possible – use acoustic treatment where necessary, and soundproof the room as much as you can. However, once you have things set up, it’s important to know your monitors – even with a sonically imperfect listening environment, with practice you can learn how to adjust the mix appropriately. It’s all about balance; you want the mix to sound good even when you play it on a small radio in the hall, or in your car. Once you know your studio sound, you can figure out how to create mixes that translate well to other systems. Listening to professional mixes (ie your favourite songs) can help you calibrate your sense of how your own studio actually sounds.


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