Mixing is something every music producer will have to do at some point, and it is a tricky part while finishing a song. In general, you should give attention to the technical side of a mixdown and have an excellent knowledge of the plugins and effects you use while mixing, but you should also have an artistic and creative sense of what is working and why. It's crucial to keep a good balance between these two things.
Sounds to the Max is here to help you so here are 8 Tips that will help you to achieve a better mixdown and keep the balance:
Mixing in the Box is enough!
Nowadays, there is no real need to have a big console or an analog mixer at home or in your studio to get a good mixdown. With the technology, we have today your mixer in your DAW is more than up to the job to get a very good mixdown. The benefit of the digital mixer in your DAW is that you can save certain mixer settings and you can rework every channel when you have the feeling something is missing. It also allows you to have a better workflow while mixing a production because you can easily control everything.
If you still want something physical to work with, go to Softube's website and search for their mixing console! It's great and has an affordable price.
Use automation clips!
Automation clips are crucial to get a good mixdown from the artistic and technical points of view. From the artistic point of view, you can get your track more “alive” when you automate the reverb, the cutoff of your lead sound, or if you automate a filter on your bassline that will open and close in certain parts of your track.
From a technical point of view, automation clips can be helpful to create more space in your mix. For example, when you have a drop with a very big and present lead sound but you want to add a vocal verse on top of it you can automate a high-shelf cut with an EQ of your taste on the lead sound. With this trick, you can easily make space for the vocal and when you just cut out the frequencies that will clash with your lead, both elements can play well together.
Trust your ears and the working mix!
While mixing it's good to know that not every element needs compression, EQ, or distortion! The key here is sound selection. If you take a sample or a preset that is badly mixed or won´t work in your track DON´T USE IT! Search for sounds that sound good on their own and work directly well with your track. This will benefit your workflow and you will instantly have a stable overall sound. Leave it like that if something sounds good to you and on your speakers! With this trick, you will achieve a good working mix.
Use Compression carefully and intended!
Compression can either ruin a mix or make it smoother and more pleasant. In dance music elements like kick, bass, sub-bass, or lead synth benefit from compression. When you gently compress these elements on their own or in a bus they will play better together and sit better in your overall mixdown.
Bit attention here! Too much compression will suck the life out of these elements and kill the dynamics of your track!
Start with the loudest part of your song!
In dance music, the loudest part of your song should always be the drop!
And that’s the part where you should start your mixdown!
Kick and bass are the most critical elements there and it makes a very big difference if these two elements play well together or not!
So mute all other sounds in the drop section and begin with your kick and sub-bass. Add a bit of compression on both elements and make them play well together. Then unmute the midbass and do the same.
With this trick, you can easily achieve a balanced and good mixdown in your drop.
If the drop sounds good to you, start with the breakdown.
And if you have a track with vocals, start with them when you mix the break and work around it!
Panning is key!
I often achieve a wide mix where you can hear every element by panning.
Percussive elements like claps, hi-hats, shakers, rides, or snares often share some of the same frequencies.
If you pan them (we have a panning cheat sheet on our Instagram) you create space for other elements in your mix and get a more open and pleasant mix.
(If you want to understand the magic of panning, listen to Michael Jackson's “Off the Wall”. You will notice that the drums and guitars are hardly panned to the left and right to make space for the vocal and bassline)
Other elements that can but not need to be panned are pads, leads, and small elements like arpeggios.
If you pan them, it can create more space for vocals or basslines.
Watch your levels!
While adding effects on your mixer track, keep an eye on your output volume.
Nothing is worse than a clipping lead sound or bassline! Try to set the right volume level before you add any effect on the mixer channel. This will help you to achieve a balanced mixdown!
If you get stuck it's okay!
If you worked on the production for too long and got stuck while mixing it because nothing works for you, then it's no shame to get help or your track mixed.
A fresh pair of ears can identify the problems of the track and mix them down easier than you because they hear it for the first time and have a more subjective view.
If you want to have your song mixed and mastered by us, just send us a message and we will take care of it.
We have the experience and knowledge to get your Tracks to the Max!! Contact us at soundstothemax.com for prices and more info.