Mixing - part two.

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The continuing journey through the wonderful world of mixing.

Hi folks. We left off with our drums and bass working together, still in mono. Lets start fleshing out our mix. I like to bring in the lead vocal next. I know a lot of folks leave this until last. I find bringing it in early makes it easier to keep it at the forefront. Hopefully, you compressed the lead vocal on the way in, just enough to even out the big peaks. Bring up the volume as high as you can. Experiment with a rolloff at this point. The more bottom you can lop off, the louder you can make the track. But you don't want to change the timbre of the vocal. Your just trying to get rid of the low stuff that you can't hear. If the vocal is still uneven, compress with care. The human voice is what your listeners are going to listen to the most. Everyone, musician or not, knows what a voice sounds like. Make sure it doesn't sound squashed, or otherwise artificial. Unless, of course, that's the sound your going for. EQ lightly. Fullness is around 120 hz, "boominess" is at 240 hz. Nasal qualities are around 2 k( for my voice, anyway) presence is around 5 k, sibilance around 7k, and air is at around 12k. A light compressor at this stage can bring the vocal even more to the front of the mix. Be careful not to lose all the dynamics. Let the vocal breathe a little. Another trick to try, double the track, and put one of the tracks out of phase. This can give an especially "in your face" quality, and you can EQ the tracks slightly differently, to make the vocal even bigger. If the drums are fighting the vocal too much, try scooping the various drums at around 1k. You may have to start pulling down the drum volumes in general at this point. Okay, on to our next step.

Next, bring up the feature melody instrument. Guitar or keys, what ever is the focal point of your song. I rarely compress either of these. This is where your mix is takes on some character. You want to support the vocal, and still draw the listeners attention to the melody instrument. In rock, generally, it is common to have the vocal a little "buried in the mix". That is, the vocal is not as loud compared to the rest of the band, as in say a pop type tune. You still want to hear the vocal loud and clear. This is where you start EQing things a little more seriously. Is some instrument "clouding" your ability to hear something else? Can you cut a band of frequencies to "reveal" the competing instrument or vocal? Do you have good separation between instruments? Can you pick out any specific part, and still hear everything in a good balance? For acoustic guitar, the bottom is between 80-120 hz, body is at 240 hz, and the clarity is between 2.5-5k. If the acoustic part is an aggressively strummed rhythm part, perhaps the attack is all thats really needed. I'm sure you've noticed that the guts of a lot of sounds is at around 240 hz. tread lightly here. Too much stuff boosted at 240 will make your mix sound muddy faster than anything. Electric guitars, rolloff anywhere between 80- 200 hz. Fullness is at around 240hz, "cheap" sound is at around 800 hz, and bite is at 2.5 k. For most keys, the bottom is between 80-120 hz, body is at 240, presence is around 2k. For background vocals, try boosting and cutting the opposite of what you did for the lead vocal. This will make each more distinct. Try to not get too distracted by what each track sounds like when soloed. You sometimes have to be a little ruthless when mixing. Our goal is to try and have everything compliment each other, and still be able to hear everything. Well, that's all for now, next time, we can start mixing into stereo, and adding effects. Until then, good mixing. George.

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User-submitted comments

Feb 26, 2009 05:24 am
another nice article...
well done

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