Top 10 Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business: Becoming an accomplished music producer is not a long process.

Whether you’re aspiring for the top notch studio.

Or simply wanting to get the best from your home studio setup.

The paths to becoming skilled at your craft are diverse.

But there are some common pitfalls to try and avoid.

The following set of music producer tips will look at 10 simple ways to improve your music production.

And avoid sounding amateurish.

It´s all very well having great ideas and getting them recorded and arranged.

But if you want your music to sound professional.

You´ll need to blend everything together successfully at the mixing/processing stage.

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Sounds Mixing Techniques Business
Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

1. Learn About Compression Techniques

A common mistake that prevents amateurs from getting a full sound is not filling the “box” that is volume, panning, and frequency.

The typical dilemma is this: as more sounds are layered together, the audio may start to clip.

And so you turn the gain down on the each channel of the mixer.

But then it sounds quiet.

In order to fix this, you need to learn about compression and mixing.

If used properly, compression reduces the variations between one audio channel’s highest.

And lowest gain levels throughout the track.

Which allows you to turn the volume up without clipping.

2. Reduce Muddy Sound With EQ

Removing the frequency below say 30-40Hz on your track’s elements is a good idea.

This frequency range essentially offers nothing to your mix other than a low end rumble.

Which will quickly clog up your mix as you add more and more elements within this frequency range.

By using an EQ to “roll off” this range on each element in your track you’ll end up with much more space and clarity.

When too many frequencies are overlapping in a mix, the result is also “muddy”.

To prevent mud, you must consciously keep in mind what range of frequencies you are adding with each new part.

Inevitably, frequencies will overlap, no matter what instruments you choose.

For example, two bassy sounds on top of each other will interfere, resulting in weird phasing issues.

If you want to use two instruments that use up the same frequency spectrum.

You’ll want to carve out the highs on one and carve out the lows on the other (through the use of EQ.

You will eliminate too many overlapping frequencies and clear up your mix).

The end result should consist of many different parts that all cover different ranges of frequencies.

Which all add up to a full, clear sound.

Learning to “roll off” where necessary and “notch out” space in the mix for each element is something that takes time.

And it’s a good idea to learn the process with the help of a Spectrum Analyser.

By adding one to each channel of your mix.

You’ll see where things need to be rolled off.

And where that specific element is most prominent in the frequency spectrum.

Then you can EQ out the other elements in that range.

Allowing it to breathe in the mix.

By doing this for each mix element, you’ll end up with a cleaner mix.

Most DAWS come with adequate spectrum analysers.

But many plugin companies also make their own.

Which often offer improved visual feedback and other features.

You can check out the range of free, value and premium Spectral Analysers at Plugin Boutique.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

3. Beware Of Stacking Big Phat Presets

Presets are a great place to start and some of them are ready to slot right into a track with great results.

However, many VST instrument plugins have presets that are designed to sound fantastic on their own.

But can create problems when thrown together with other big phat sounding presets.

This is because many of these presets fill up much of the low and high end.

As well as often unnaturally filling the stereo field (for example, big wide bass sounds).

Unless you carefully carve out the clashing frequencies in these big phat sounds using EQ.

You may get a muffled, muddy sound when throwing these types of heavily processed presets together.

Alternatively, you may get an unnatural sounding stereo spread.

As a result it’s also useful to learn to modify the presets by taking the time to learn how to program a synth.

I find myself dividing music-making time into at least two different tasks: patch programming and sequencing.

Programming can consist of long hours in front of a synth, twisting knobs (or virtual ones).

And fine-tuning the sound to perfection.

It may seem boring to some people.

But one of the keys to succeeding in your music is to be original and find your own sound.

Taking the time to create your sounds from scratch.

Or at least modifying presets to suit your track can make all the difference.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

4. Don’t End Up Awash In Reverb

A common mistake amongst novice producers is to use too much processing and overload on the effects.

While this can yield creative results when done methodically.

Slapping on the effects heavy-style can eventually lead to a muddled and hectic sound.

Reverb is a very commonly abused effect.

If you do use reverb, a good general rule is to tone it down so you can’t really notice it’s there.

The key to knowing if you’ve got it right is when your average listener WILL notice when you take the reverb away.

But they won’t notice it’s presence until you do.

Tracks that are drenched in cheap reverb almost always sound amateurish.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

5. Be Aware Of Over-Limiting

While limiting is a valuable tool.

It’s often something that the novice will abuse.

This has become even more of a problem with the “loudness wars”.

Where everyone is fighting to get the loudest track out there.

The result of over-limiting a track is that the bounce ends up in a file that looks like a brick wall.

With no peaks and troughs and very little dynamic range.

It may be loud, but to the brain it sounds unnatural.

Learning to achieve a balance between loudness and dynamic range is important.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

6. Learn Home Mastering Basics

The opposite of over-limiting is a weak and low-volume track.

Another sign that the track is not properly mastered.

A weak sounding track is going to struggle to excite the listener.

So it’s important to get a grip on the basics of making your track relatively loud and punchy.

These days, a lot of producers are mastering their own music with software.

Such as Wave Arts PowerSuite, izotope Ozone, PSP Vintage Warmer, Waves MaxxVolume, Sony’s Wave Hammer, etc.

These plugins can really improve the overall loudness of your track.

And when used properly can deliver professional sounding results.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

7. Tighten Up Your Timing

If you aren’t the tightest at banging out beats, baselines and the like.

You’ll probably end up with slightly loose rhythm parts.

This problem is amplified if the latency on your audio interface adds a delay from.

When you hit a pad or key to when the sound is generated.

In this case, it’s probably a good idea to turn to your friend “Quantize”.

And also a good idea to look into the best way to minimize and account for latency in your set-up.

Each DAW will have a section on this in your manual.

And while it might be a little boring.

Getting this sorted out in your auto-load template will save you plenty of trouble down the line.

Regarding quantization – I’m not saying that you should quantize everything.

Unless you are going for a mechanical, computerized drum track.

In order to retain the human feel, many people only quantize to 75%-90% .

And you should be able to find how to set the quantize value fairly quickly in your DAW’s manual.

Also, sometimes you may need to quantize certain groups of midi notes on their own.

Apart from the whole drum truck.

You’ll need to do this when you have triplet notes, for example.

Some quantize menus will have “1/16 + 1/16 T”.

Which means it will quantize to the nearest 16th note or the nearest 16th triplet note.

If you have this option, you can apply quantization to the whole track.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

8. Don’t Get Stuck In The Loop

Loops have become an integral part of modern music.

And there’s no doubt that some of the most memorable tracks in the past few decades.

Have been the result of that oh-so-addictive loop!

However, the repetitive overuse of loops in your tracks can lead to a stale.

Uninteresting track if the loops aren’t used properly.

If you want to use the same sample over and over.

Consider looking into ways to transform it.

Modulate it or shape it somehow so to get some variation.

And keep things interesting for the listener.

Slice it, dice it, pitch it, reverse it, flange it, phase it, you name it.

Another creative way of getting more from your samples is to create interesting variations of the same loop with follow actions.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

9. Treat Your Room

One of the most common problems for bedroom producers is a room that lacks any accoustic treatment.

And includes things like bass traps.

It’s something we’ll all deal with to some extent.

If you’re making music out of your home and not in a top end studio.

However, there’s plenty of information online about how to improve the accoustics of your room.

With simple and cost-effective accoustic treatment.

You’d be surprised what a few carefully placed rugs, hanging blankets etc.

Can do to help you get the best mix out of your space.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

10. Master What You Have First

We live in a world of abundance.

When it comes to audio production tools and software.

But sometimes the choice can be paralyzing.

Part of becoming a better producer is mastering your kit.

And that’s nearly impossible to do if you are constantly moving on to the next big thing.

Learn to use your gear inside and out and when you do you’ll realize what you actually need.

To take it to the next level.

Consider starting out with some of the great free software out there to learn processes.

And then as you improve your knowledge consider moving on to more premium versions.

With a strong foundation of knowledge.

This also includes styles of music.

By all means experiment and keep an open mind.

But if you’re making X this month.

Because it’s the next big thing.

By the time you figure out your own sound there.

You’ll likely be compelled to move on the next trend. Be yourself!

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

11. Set your kick and bass levels

 There´s a very practical reason that you should start with heavy elements such as the kick drum and bass when mixing – headroom! Set your kick and bass levels so that they only register about a quarter of the way up the level meter when it´s set to 0dB. This will leave lots of room to boost later – and you´ll always want room to nudge your kick up!

12. Try to keep your master output level well below 0dB

Peaking about halfway up the meter is fine.

So as not to risk any digital clipping or distortion.

In these days of noise-free digital mixing, you can always raise the level later before limiting it.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

13. Be coherent

You can help different groups of sounds to gel coherently (drums or vocals, for example).

By routing them to a bus and processing them as a whole.

It´s also useful for keeping the CPU load down.

And makes gating and compressing the group easier.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

14. Creative production process

Mixing is the one part of the creative production process.

Where you need to have the volume quite loud.

As you won´t actually hear the proper relationship between sounds otherwise.

This is particularly true with dance music.

Work in spurts to check this.

Though – don´t just leave it loud all the time. You can´t fix broken ears.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

15. Be careful with the signal louder

Be careful of any effect that makes a signal louder.

As the volume increase alone can give the illusion of a ‘better´ sound.

Compression is a good example of this.

Louder isn´t necessarily better.

So always be sure to A/B your new and old settings.

To make sure that you are actually improving the sound rather than just boosting it.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

16. Use standard technique

If you compress the life out of all the elements in your track.

Then that´s exactly how your finished mix will sound too.

And while this is a standard technique in dance music these days.

Even in that genre there are limits.

So dial back the settings a little sometimes, and use side chaining to add some bounce and life.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

17.  place a compressor on the main output

In the analogue mixing days it was common practice to place a compressor on the main output.

To keep the signal below 0dB and add a bit of weight.

But with modern digital mixing you can keep things low enough not to peak and still preserve the range.

Don´t risk squashing the life out of your music – leave those sorts of decisions for the mastering engineer.

“Always be sure to A/B your new and old settings.

To make sure that you are actually improving the sound rather than just boosting it.”

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

18. Always check your mix down

Before sending your track to anybody (or burning a CD).

Always check your mixdown back after bouncing.

Even with software, little errors can creep in that aren´t audible during real-time playback.

If you come across a glitch, rendering the problem section separately.

And pasting it into the mixdown will do the trick…

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

19. Always trust your ears first and foremost.

Music isn´t for looking at, so if something doesn´t appear right onscreen.

Or looks like it has too many (or too few) effects.

Close your eyes (or switch off your monitor) and play it back.

If it sounds right, it is right; if it sounds wrong… well, you figure it out!

20. Don’t shy away from over driving the odd channel

Unlike with your final mix, you shouldn´t always shy away from overdriving the odd channel.

We´re not suggesting that you max everything out into the red all the time.

But if you have one or two elements sneaking into that range.

And they don´t sound bad (or sound better, even), then why worry? Trust your ears!

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

21. Always use EQ cut

When two instruments share a range of frequencies (vocals and guitars, for example).

Apply an EQ cut to one to make the other pop through.

For example, some attenuation in the 300Hz-3kHz range of your guitars.

And synths will help the vocal cut through.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

22. apply a boost using a parametric EQ

The easiest way to home in on a problem frequency.

That needs cutting is to apply a boost using a parametric EQ.

And sweep the frequency back and forth until you hear the problem area get louder.

Then use the Q control to narrow it down and, finally, turn the boost into a cut.

23. Try cutting out about 1dB with low shelving

Many producers try to beef up the bass with low-shelving boost.

But this can just make the sound muddy.

Instead, try cutting out about 1dB with low shelving, then use a little bit of notch boost (1-3dB).

And sweep the centre frequency between about 80Hz and 120Hz.

As this is where the weight and punch of the bass is – the rest is just rumble!

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

24.Use synthesizers

Synthesizers are capable of throwing out some weird harmonics.

So sometimes you might need to detune them slightly to make them sound right together.

And this is even more true of samples.

As they tend to have subtle sonic artefacts that can confuse things even further.

“When two instruments share a range of frequencies (vocals and guitars, for example).

Apply an EQ cut to one to make the other pop through.”

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

25.Using effect as an insert

If you always use an effect as an insert, try using it on a send/return bus, and vice versa.

It´s all too easy to settle into certain ways of working.

But as producers, your sound will be defined by our techniques.

So if these never change then neither will the sound of our music.

And production should be about progression.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

26.Dreaded CPU overload

The last thing you want when mixing is the dreaded CPU overload.

So to get rid of the problem it may well be worth bouncing down.

Or freezing all of your parts as audio and then making final mix and processing adjustments.

With certain software, doing this could arguably result in better signal quality, too.

Read also: 20 Tips to Start Beans Wholesales Market in Nigeria

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

27.Use a couple of reverb buses 

The key to great sounding ambience is to use a couple of reverb buses.

One each for bright and heavy sounds.

Then use plenty of low EQ attenuation to keep things clean on the heavier sounds.

And trim off some of the top end on the brighter ones.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

28. Use heaviest elements

We´ve already said that you should always start your mixdown with the heaviest elements.

But what next? Well, we reckon it´s lead sounds.

Such as vocals, synths and guitars.

Get these right and then slide your other percussion up behind them.

This way you won´t keep nudging the lead parts up to get them to fit with everything else.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

29. Never neglect compression.

Nothing upsets the balance of a mix quite like fluctuating volume levels.

They make vocalists sound insecure and musicians sound clumsy.

So use plenty of judicious compression to flatten the levels to consistency.

Sometimes two gentle compressors are smoother than one firm one.

30. Get the  effect of various compression settings

Spend some time listening to the effect of various compression settings on different instruments.

On vocals it can enhance breath noises, making them much more intimate.

On guitars it can bring out the sound of fingers stroking strings or the rattle of hands on wood.

All of these elements can be useful at times, but you do need to learn how to control them.

Sounds Mixing Techniques Business

31.Use Headphones 

Headphones can be a very useful mixing tool (particularly in a bad monitoring environment.

As they can give a good reference point without any reflections).

But they simply cannot portray a stereo field or reproduce bass frequencies.

Even if they´re rated as low as 25Hz.

So always finalise your mix on monitors.

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