How to Mix Music?

How to Mix Music?
Posted on: April 06, 2023
12 minute read
Last updated on: April 6, 2023
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Mixing music: how to make it sound perfect

The act of mixing is a part of the music-making process. A track’s ultimate output is properly polished and well-balanced when several elements are combined. Despite the fact that mixing is a creative art form that calls for creativity and expertise, it is also a technical talent that can be picked up and developed through time. Finding the ideal balance between the diverse elements of a mix may be a difficult effort for even seasoned music producers, and achieving the right sound is no simple feat for beginners.

Today, we’ll aim to get right to the point by providing helpful advice and detailed instructions for producing tracks and recordings that are on par with industry standards. Whether you are a seasoned producer or a novice who is still learning the fundamentals of creativity, the suggestions and techniques we will cover in this post are meant for everyone who is interested in making tracks and music. You may be confident that with our assistance, you’ll soon be able to expand your creativity and produce greater music.

Study the fundamentals of mixing

Mixing is both an art and a technical skill. You must comprehend the fundamentals prior to starting the process. Getting a polished mix that sounds harmonic and balanced is the aim of mixing. You must modify the levels, panning, EQ, and other effects on each individual track to obtain a harmonious and expert final mix. You must have a thorough comprehension of each track you’re working with before you begin mixing.

You must be aware of each track’s function and meaning in the mix. For instance, knowing whether a voice recording is the primary vocal or the background vocal is crucial when dealing with it. If you want to mix music that sounds well-balanced and cohesive, it’s critical to comprehend the purpose of each track. After you are familiar with the different tracks, you may begin tweaking levels, panning, EQ, and other effects to produce a well-balanced mix.

We’ll go through the fundamentals of mixing and describe each step in detail below. If you have mastered this knowledge, you will be able to produce your own cohesive mixes that will sound excellent in any circumstance.

Mix music

Getting Ready for Mixing

Preparing your tracks for mixing is the key to producing a high caliber, industry-standard mix.

The methods listed below can help you correctly prepare your recordings for mixing:

  • Keep the tracks tidy. Remove any obtrusive sounds from individual recordings, including clicks, pops, and hums, before you begin mixing. This may be accomplished by using tools like noise reduction and spectral editing. It will be simpler to concentrate on the crucial elements of the mix if the tracks are cleaned.
  • Define Levels. After completing the tracks, the levels must be established. They can be manually adjusted or matched to a reference track, using the latter as a guide. Maintain the same levels throughout the mix to make sure that one track can be heard without overpowering the others.
  • Create a session plan. You’ll be able to work more effectively if the session is well-planned. Songs should be categorized, named, and color-coded based on how they relate to one another. Labeling your tracks will make it simpler for you to evaluate your session, and the color coding will make it simpler for you to distinguish between them. It will be simpler to mix the appropriate tracks later on as a group if they are grouped together, for example, all the drum tracks.
  • Adjust the tracks, second. If necessary, edit each track to cut out extraneous parts or make it fit better in the mix. Tools like fades, crossfades, and time stretching can be used for this. You may produce a final mix that is more expert and well-balanced by editing the tracks.

You may build a strong basis for producing a reference grade mix by adhering to these rules.

The step-by-step procedure for combining

  • As the drums are frequently the foundation of the music, begin mixing with the drums. The levels for each individual drum track, including the drums, snaps, toms, and cymbals, should be set first. For instance, by modifying the EQ, you may give the snare cymbal more “punch” or “sizzle,” which will give each drum the characteristics you want. You may create a feeling of depth and distance by placing the toms and cymbals throughout the stereo field, with the drums and rattle in the middle. Compression can be used to balance levels and create a more constant sound, for instance, to give the steadiness of the drums or cymbals.
  • Blend the bass. Another crucial element of a track is the bass, thus it’s crucial to mix it correctly. Set the EQ and bass track parameters to match the drums and create a strong foundation for the remainder of the mix. Use the EQ to cut out undesirable frequencies like boom or grime and increase the desired frequencies to make the bass stand out more in the mix. Bass panning should be used with caution as it can easily result in a muddy sound.
  • Don’t forget to add more instruments. You can begin incorporating additional sounds, such as guitars, keyboards, or voices, once the bass and drums have been mixed. Set the settings for each instrument and employ EQ to highlight its unique characteristics, such as adding warmth to a guitar or clarity to a vocal. Use panning and spatial effects, such as positioning the guitar to the left and the piano to the right, to provide depth and distance to your mix. To balance levels and produce a more unified sound, use compression and other dynamic effects.
  • Add impact. You may begin adding effects to the mix after combining several tracks to enhance the overall sound. They consist of reverb, delay, and modulation. Overusing these effects will cause the mix to get crowded very soon. Use them cautiously and sparingly. A vocal, for instance, may be given a feeling of depth and distance by adding reverb, but if you apply too much reverb, it may appear distant or hazy. Use EQ to mellow the effects and get them to sound well together in the mix.
  • Even out the mix. Once everything is in place, it’s critical to balance the mix so that each instrument can be heard clearly without overpowering the others. To balance levels and create a feeling of space, use volume and panning. Employ automation to make minor adjustments to the mix, such as turning down the guitar volume during a vocal passage or turning up the drum kit’s reverb. When comparing the mix to other songs that have been well mixed, use reference recordings to ensure that it sounds balanced and complete.
  • Examine the mix. After balancing it, you should listen to it next to other songs to make sure it sounds fine on various playback platforms. Compare the mix to other tracks of the same genre or listen to it on various speakers and headphones to achieve this. Make the required adjustments based on the reference recordings, such as boosting the bass for a club mix or lowering the treble for a more subdued environment. Listen to flawlessly mixed music after transferring the mix to an audio file of acceptable quality.
See also
EQ Blueprint: EQ Charts, Important Frequencies, EQ Types & Top-10 Free EQs

Mixing music

Various mixing errors

Every producer or audio engineer should be aware of typical mixing errors if they wish to generate a melodious and expert sound. They have the potential to quickly ruin the mix and create a muddy, imbalanced, or lifeless sound. If you are aware of these issues, you can prevent them and produce a mix that sounds sharp, lively, and engaging. Each of the six typical mixing errors is explained in greater depth below:

  1. Mix too much. A recording’s audio quality degrades when too many tracks or instruments are added, leaving it cluttered, uninteresting, and overcrowded. To prevent this, use fewer tracks and make sure they all contribute to the overall sound in an equitable and harmonic manner.
  2. Undervalue the significance of volume. Levels must be correctly adjusted for a good blend. If the levels are too low, it may sound weak or muddy, and if the levels are too high due to distortion, it may be unpleasant to listen to. Always keep in mind that a well-balanced blend demands careful volume management.
  3. Poor EQ use. A tool for balancing and shaping the sound of each instrument in the mix is the equalization. Yet, when it is used incorrectly or excessively, the sound becomes harsh or thin. It’s crucial to utilize the EQ sparingly and make little tweaks to each track in order to produce a smooth and well-balanced mix.
  4. Creating unwarranted compression. The mix appears lifeless and flat as a result of this error. To balance levels and provide a more consistent sound, overcompression is used. If you want the mix to sound vibrant and lively, use it with caution.
  5. Ignoring stereotyping. Stereo adds a feeling of depth and space to your mix, but using too much of it can create an unnatural or imbalanced sound. The mix sounds more three-dimensional and spacious when stereo imaging is employed properly, while yet keeping the harmony and coherence of the individual sounds.
  6. Absence of mix references. Even if your monitors or headphones are distortion-free, a recording frequently does not sound the same on various playback devices. It’s crucial to listen to the mix on several speakers and headphones in order to ensure that it will sound nice on various platforms and for various listeners. Comparing to other songs in the same genre will provide a frank evaluation and critique, highlighting areas that want work.
See also
The Magic of Sound: how to use music theory to create unforgettable compositions

Mastering music

Mastering

The mastering phase of the music production process should not be skipped. In order to get a seamless and professional sound, the final mix must be adjusted. Let’s concentrate on the primary phases and features of mastering:

Make sure the mix is balanced and complete first. Verify that all of the songs are properly balanced and that there are no glaring sound flaws or issues. If any adjustments are required, make them before moving on to the next stage.

Applying EQ and compression to the entire mix comes next. This helps to smooth out any harsh edges and create a coherent, balanced sound. To enhance the intensity and clarity of each instrument, you may subtly change the tonal balance of the mix using equalization (EQ). Yet, it’s crucial to refrain from utilizing excessive compression.

Add the required effects, such delay or reverb, to the mix after applying EQ and compression. Effects provide the final product refinement, professionalism, and a feeling of depth and space. Make careful to use these effects sparingly and in a way that improves rather than degrades the overall sound.

Using a limiter as the last step ensures that the final mix is correctly aligned and free of distortion or clipping when played on various platforms. The mix becomes more vibrant and dynamic with the addition of punch and impact from the limiter. Throughout the mastering process, it’s crucial to listen attentively and make improvements. It’s great if you start taking regular breaks to rest and give the mix a second look. It is also advised that you ask other producers or audio engineers for their opinions. Your final project will sound better thanks to their input.

Conclusions and final thoughts

There are a few details to take into account after mixing and mastering to ensure your music sounds as excellent as it possibly can.

Think about the listening environment first. Your music should ideally sound nice on a number of devices, including high-end studio monitors, headphones, and small portable speakers. Spend some time listening to your mix at various settings and making any required tweaks.

Consider the format in which you export your finished mix second. The quality and loudness of your music are significantly impacted by different formats. For instance, MP3 files can cause the loss of high-frequency data and decreased sound quality. For maximum quality, we advise exporting the finished mix to a lossless format like WAV or AIFF.

Lastly, make sure your tracks are correctly labeled and include information like the artist’s name, the track title, the album name, and the album’s cover image. When sharing your music with others, this information is crucial since it also makes it simpler for people to search and purchase your music online.

Fourth, consider the significance of album sequencing. The sequence in which your tracks are presented on an album or EP may significantly affect how enjoyable the music is to listen to as a whole. Consider carefully about the album’s flow and how each song works with the others to form a coherent overall.

Don’t overlook the significance of distribution and promotion, though. Make sure others hear the mix once you’ve mastered it and made it sound excellent. If you want to interact with fans and share your music with the world, think about using websites like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, or YouTube.

In conclusion, the process of mixing and mastering is crucial to producing music that sounds amazing. To ensure that the greatest number of people can hear and enjoy your music, there are still a few more considerations. By using these suggestions, you may produce a high-caliber, in-demand final product that will appeal to listeners and sound fantastic on a number of platforms.

Author Maxim Hetman
Highly skilled sound designer with over 15 years of experience in the field.
Maxim Hetman