Mixing is where it all comes together whether you are a band or electronic musician it is an important stage. As a band you 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.
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Entries in Mastering (3)
Master the use of reverb and your lifeless, two-dimensional mix will become a three dimensional panorama, says Steve Hillier.
Things that people do wrong with their music:
1. Write a composition starting with the drums. This is madness. Can you imagine Lennon and McCartney waiting for Ringo to set up his drum kit before writing their next Beatles smash? Obviously not.
2. Compress everything. At least twice. Anyone doing this in their mixes should stop now. Modern DAWs have an internal dynamic range that’s comparable to a pin dropping versus the sound of the big bang. Try using it, rather than squashing your music to the flatness of a pancake being sucked into a black hole . Compressors are like guns…only the sane should ever pick one up.
3. Use reverb badly, or not at all… Unlike compression, everyone likes reverb. How can I say this with such confidence? Because nearly everything you’ve ever heard has been covered with reverb. Everything. Reverberation is what you hear when the sound from an event, such as a gun shot, bounces off a reflective surface, such as a wall, and then into our ears. It’s a fundamental attribute of how we experience sound, and our brains have evolved to use the information contained in reverb to help us survive in our everyday lives. If we’re hearing lots of sounds with long reverb tails on them, that suggests we’re in a large room, such as a church. Lots of short ‘early reflections’, we’re probably in a small room. Everything we hear has some reverberation on it before it ends up in our ears (we’ll ignore scientists who work in anechoic chambers for today).
“Garbage in, garbage out” is a common saying among mastering engineers. The quality of the source material limits the quality of the final product. Most of my clients have no problem following my simple preparation instructions, but they stop there.
They figure once each mix sounds as good as they can get it, they’re done. In fact, there’s a higher level of refinement that pays huge dividends. I’ll break it down in this mastering engineer’s guide to final mixdown (which I promised in an interview back in January - sorry for the delay!).
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(Updated Sept 29, 2014)