What Is Audio Mixing?
The goal of mixing is to bring out the best in your multi-track recording by adjusting levels, panning, and time-based effects (chorus, reverb, delay). The aim is to sculpt your arrangement to make sense of all your tracks in relation to each other.
A multitrack recording is anything with more than one individual track (also referred to as stems). There’s no right or wrong number of tracks. You just can’t have zero. The final output of a multitrack recording is also known as the mixdown. The mixdown is the final step before mastering.
It doesn’t matter if you’re recording tracks with microphones and pre-amps, or using pre-recorded samples, learning how to mix for yourself is insanely important. Taking control of your artistic and creative vision will take your music to the next level. It’ll make you a better producer.
Start with these basic tips. They’ll get your mix as far as it can go before you seek more specific resources.
Let’s crack this egg open.
CHOOSING YOUR MIXING SOFTWARE
There’s tons of Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) to choose from. Which DAW is the best DAW is up to you. But some of the best DAWs to start mixing with are:
-FL Studio 11
-Studio One 3
Get to know your DAW software intimately. The savvy audio mixer sticks to one DAW and knows it truly, madly, deeply. Don’t cheat on your DAW. Stay true and you’ll reap all the benefits.
I’ll be using Pro Tools as an example but all the principles are the same no matter how you mix.
SETTING UP YOUR AUDIO MIXING SESSION
Most DAW’s provide nifty templates if you’re unsure of how to get started.
For example, Pro Tools includes the ‘Rock’ template which sets your session up with tracks for:
Drums / Bass / Organ / Guitar / 4 empty audio tracks for recording / Click Track / Pre-routed Headphone Mix / Reverb Return / Delay Return / Chorus return / Wanky guitar solo that comes in at 3:42
Although this is a basic band mix template, there are other templates to choose from. If you don’t see the template you need, just make one. Making your own template is a great step in developing your mix style. Perfect for booting up your computer and starting a mix from scratch.
NAME YOUR TRACKS PROPERLY
This sounds super simple, but trust me. In three months you won’t be able to remember where the third shaker is if it’s called ‘Audio track 48.’ If you record a ‘lead guitar’ then do yourself a favor and call it ‘lead guitar’ before you hit record. Poor naming adds oodles of unneeded studio time. to your session.
COLOR CODE YOUR TRACK GROUPS
Make ROY G BIV proud. Color code your tracks. For example, make all of your drum tracks yellow, all your vocal tracks blue, and all your guitars green.