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!
1) Make pretty liberal use of volume automation. 2-3dB doses here and there will allow the more interesting fills and mini-riffs for each track poke through the mix.
2) Low Cut Eq on just about everything. Unless you are mixing hip-hop/dance/techno/trance music that requires the subwoofers to rattle your bones….most of this sub-bass rumble can totally kill an otherwise awesome sounding mix.
3) NY/Parallel compression. Duplicate a track. Compress the hell out of one of ‘em, but not the other. Mix the two to taste (with the uncompressed one being your “main” track). The compressed one gives you the “punch/oomph” and the uncompressed one keeps the dynamics & “sparkle.”
4) Whisper track. Have the singer whisper along with the vocal track and bring this up under the main vox in the mix. I got very awesome results doing this in several songs. I have it best being used subtly under the lead vocals, but if you can make it sound cool cranked up loud I’d love to hear it.
5) Use batteries in guitar/bass stomp boxes, they sound better than power adapters. I am not really sure why, nor do I care, but this really is true I’ve tried it. Less noise & less tone sucking. If only 9V’s weren’t so damn expensive…. :P
I will post another five tips shortly. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these!
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