Mixin' Never Hurt Anyone.Volume 3
Updated: Apr 18, 2019
Its been a long but great ride with our blog series on mixing and I hope you have learned heaps! Next time you step into your studio you will be equipped to handle the demands of mixing like a pro! The journey ain’t over! We have a few more secrets which will give your mixing an edge!
tricks in your
for a little extra
LFOs are sound waves that vibrate at much lower frequencies – less than 20 times per second (so below 20 Hz). That is less than what your ears can hear. In other words, LFOs do not make any sound. They make sounds move.
Here’s a few easy steps to get started: — Select an instrument or parameter that you want to affect in your DAW- it doesn’t matter which DAW at this point these step work across them all.
For example: the ‘Analog’ synth in Cubase Pro 9.
— Go to the LFO section of your instrument or effect.
— Start by experimenting with the settings of the LFO. You can control how much (the amount) and how fast (the rate) the LFO modulation happens.
— Choose the wave shape of the LFO (sine, square, triangle, sawtooth, or noise) to hear different patterns.
You can use‘em on pitch. On volume. On effects. On just about anything. The best way to learn how to use LFOs is to just get your hands dirty and start playing around. Give it a shot. There is no rhyme or reason.
Now that you’ve got the basics locked down, try these pro-tips to take your mix even further:
MIX REFERENCING —
So your mix is coming along smoothly by this point. But there are always those looming questions... How do you know if you’re mix is up to snub ? Does it sound like other good songs?
Is everything sitting together properly? Use a Mix Reference. There’s a couple ways to do this:
Do you love the Rolling Stones? Throw Street Fighting Man into your session as track one and reference it while you go. Is your kick sitting like theirs? Is your guitar cutting like Keith’s?
I personally match my mixes’s up against Timbaland, Pharrell, Max Martin… crazy yes but if it doesn’t sound remotely like anything in that ball park, I’m back to mixing.
Use panning to give your mix the huge space and clarity that it didn’t have before.
Every good mix has a core. The center of your stereo image needs to be your core. The best way to give your mix a solid core is to keep lower frequency sounds in the center. That means kicks, basses and anything else below the 120hz range.
If your track has lead vocals pan them center as well.
If you have two sounds that are fighting for space in the same frequency, then pan one to the left and one to the right.
Not sure which frequencies are where? No problem. Throw a frequency analyzer onto your mix and figure out which sounds are sharing the same space. Then pan accordingly.
A good rule of thumb is to keep an equal amount of elements on each side. Try to see your mix in pairs and balance one element with another.
Automated panning will let certain sounds move across the stereo spectrum through out your track.
It works especially well on an ambient layer or subtle percussion. But experiment with it across your mix.
Most DAW software has an automating function in the arrangement window. So get to know the function in your DAW and find the panning automation that works best for your sound.
Layering is exactly what it sounds like - you’re essentially laying tracks on top of each other to beef up your sound.
As an easy start, try synth layering. Record a simple mid-low bass line that you like. Use your favorite synth VST plugins. Make 2 duplicates of your original line.
Pitch the first duplicate down to cover the lower notes. This will act as your sub.
The second duplicate should give you that glimmer. So try pitching it up or applying different settings to give you the high end sugar that cuts through a mix.
What you’re left with is a lead synth that has the high end shine with the mid-low body that falls out a present mix.
The settings you apply to each duplicate is up to you.
You will also need to apply some carving EQ to avoid a muddy mix. Layering synths properly will take some serious experimentation and listening. Use this layering concept as a starting point. But tweak it to meet your needs and overall mix.
Fixing a muddy mix comes down to EQing.
EQing is adjustments you make to highs, mid-range, and lows of your sound.
Typically, a snare or a cymbal will register in the mid to high range. A kick drum or bass pad will show up in the lower mids or all the way in the lows.
The tricky part is that all sounds can register in the high, mid, and low frequencies.
For example, a snare or a vocal will tend to have some low frequencies that get cluttered up with all the other lows.
If you’re not sure what frequency is all about Google’s amazing new Spectogram tool is a great way to visualize sounds. I recommend comparing the flute to the trombone.