I was browsing Reddit about 10 minutes ago, and came across an excellent batch of comments discussing proper mixing levels. So many people think that you are supposed to mix everything to get as close to 0dB as possible, but they could not be more wrong.
Below is my favorite comment from the thread:
“There are some fundamental misunderstandings going on here. When mixing a track you want the main element (usually drums) to be peaking at around -8db to -10db. That leaves you plenty of headroom in your mix for all the other elements you are going to add. If you are concerned about making your track louder so you can send it to friends (when it’s unfinished) then you could always just temporarily boost the outboard volume before exporting then bring it back down afterwards.” – i_lyke_money
This is the 3rd installment of some simple audio mixing tips I’ve been posting up every so often. Here are five more intriguing tips to try out while mixing your audio!
Check ‘em out…
1) Turn up the monitors pretty loud, then leave the room and shut the door and listen to the mix from outside of the room. Doing this can sometimes reveal weird things in the mix that you may not have heard from directly in front of the speakers. It can also help with making sure the track levels are well balanced. I know this may not make much sense but try it out! It really does work, some professionals use this trick and swear by it!
This is my second installment of “Simple Audio Mixing Tips,” so I’m back to share five more interesting tips to try out while mixing your audio! Ok, lets just get right to it:
1) Mute vocal tracks when there is a break of more than a second or two to kill any unwanted noise. In my experience, vocal tracks tend to be the noisiest and contain the most artifacts out of any other instrument. I think it is because much more sensitive microphones (LDC’s, in particular) are being used that pick up everything happening inside and immediately outside of a room (damn you airplanes!!). To cut back on some of the noise in your mixes, try this simple technique to eliminate unwanted breaths, licking of lips, or any other interesting noises that really don’t belong in your audio. A great way to automate this “muting” process is to use a noise gate, which kicks in once the track falls below the dB threshold that you specify.
2) For drums especially, import a known good track into the session, and see how yours sounds compared to the reference. Mix to get yours sounding more like the reference. This is an extremely helpful technique. You should always A/B a reference mix that has certain qualities you may want to emulate. It is much easier to hear it than to think you know what it sounds like already, because you are most likely wrong. Use this technique for any instrument, and for entire mixes, its really helpful!!
Many people search tirelessly, trying to find simple answers to their problems. Unfortunately, when mixing audio, nothing is simple. Unless a mixing engineer is blessed with perfectly recorded tracks (which is becoming less and less the case due to the increasing volume of homemade recordings), he or she is going to have to do some fiddling around to get them sounding just right.
While mixing audio is not a simple skill to develop, there are tons of tips and tricks to make things a bit easier on yourself. These tips are not magic wands to wave at your recordings to make them sound crystal clear, or totally eliminate noise, or make your one guitar track sound like 48. Also, these techniques, for the most part, are not universal; they depend on your specific tastes, and the overall sound you are looking for in your mix. These are simple tips and some rules of thumb to help you create certain effects, enhance certain characteristics, or clean up some of the unwanted mess in your mixes.
For now I will give you the first five…I have been able to try most of these, but some I have yet to explore. Try some of these out and let me know how they work for you!
For some reason, compression was just one of those things for me that I could not grasp right away. Ratios, thresholds, limiters, maximizers, attack, release…..I didn’t want any part of it. I just figured that compression was something that HAD to be done on a track, and I would just select a preset I THOUGHT sounded nice, and that was that. Little did I know, I was being a total ignorant fool, and my music sounded like shit because of it.