Audio Mixing Tips (Compression, Eq, Reverb etc)

mixing desk

Your recordings sound awesome, nothing’s clipped, everything sounds good… on its own.
You feel good, ready to mix… but where do you start?!
Time to make some decisions, you decide to throw a few faders up and guess what? Everything sounds a mess!
Don’t worry we’ve all been there.
Mixing is an art and science and there is no right or wrong way to start mixing a song, or how a song should sound because it all comes down to taste and preference.
Here are a few tips that should get your mixes near to what you hear on the radio and clubs (if that’s the sound you’re after) :

1. Monitoring levels: You only get one set of ears, save them… TURN DOWN YOUR VOLUME KNOB

2. Pull all faders down on your mixer

3. Gain staging: This is important so that all your recordings are peaking at roughly the same dB’s. This will stop you from overloading processing plug ins. A lot of mixers look to peak around -18dBFS.

4. Rough mix: Balance the instruments at the busiest section of the song, (most likely the chorus). This way you can hear what instruments are fighting for space.

5. Creating space: There are a few things you can do to create space in a mix. Panning, EQ, Delay and Reverb.

6. Decide what instruments you want to take the leading role and be upfront in the mix/song. If you’ve got vocals in the song then more than likely they will be upfront in the mix as this is what the listener will be drawn to.

7. The vocals will need to shine and everything else (instruments) is there to support and the vocals.

8. To keep the vocals upfront and present, you’ll probably use a compressor. This is so loud and quiet parts of a performance are consistent in level, and sit nicely in the mix. Nothing worse than trying to hear what the artist is saying so you turn up the volume for them to start singing/rapping loud and make your ears bleed!

9. EQ the vocals if they need it. Most beginner mix engineers feel the need to EQ everything. My advice is to listen to the vocals and instruments together, if there is masking (instruments cashing) then use EQ or panning to separate them.

10. Decide what instruments you want to have the most shine, but be sure to allow the vocals to take centre stage and not get trampled on.

11. If it’s an instrumental then your decision will be what instruments do I want to sound the biggest? Your decision will also be based on what genre/style of music you are mixing. A rock song is mostly focused on Guitars whereas Hip-Hop and Rap focus on big sounding kicks , bass and percussion with the vocals sounding upfront and present.

12. References: This is a good time to pull up a song that has similar instruments that you’ve used. Critically listen to the instruments and how they’ve been treated with processing and panning and use these references as guides.

13. Don’t feel disheartened if your mix doesn’t sound like your referenced song. Bear in mind that these songs have been mastered. If you can get hold of un-mastered tracks than this will definitely help.

14. Another thing to remember when using references is to bring the volume down to around the same level as the song you’re mixing. Loud always sounds better and can be deceiving. By doing this you should have a better perception of balance.

15. Use this time for you to practice and train your ears. Unless you’re extremely gifted it’s going to take time for your mixes to sound like the one’s your using as references.

16. Rules are there to be broken! Happy Mixing 🙂

P.S. If you’d rather focus on making music and would prefer to have someone else mix and master your songs so they sound as good as possible, make sure to check out our Mixing & Mastering Services


If you need any help as a music artist check out our services below.
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