Tips for Mixing Your Tracks
Once you've obtained good takes on all the vocals, the backing tracks, the drums, and the various instruments for each track, the next step is to mix them. Here are some tips to help produce better mixes. Be sure to check out the tips before arriving at the studio and tips for the recording session. [Note: Click on highlighted words to go to their definition in our glossary.]
(1) Don't try to mix on the same day you record. Allow a little time to lapse between tracking and mixing. It will give your ears a chance to recover from any ear fatigue. Things will tend to sound differently after a rest.
(2) Know what sound you are trying to achieve. One way to do this is to bring in a CD that has the sound you like to use as a reference.
(3) Mix at a moderate volume. Some people think that listening at a loud volume will produce a better mix, but the opposite is actually true. You'll have less ear fatique as well.
(4) Avoid idle chatter and noise. Listen carefully during the mixing process. Don't distract the engineer, the producer, or your band mates while they are trying to listen.
(5) Take occasional breaks of five to ten minutes. Leave the control room and go somewhere where it is quiet to give your ears a break.
(6) Listen for random noises, such as foot tapping, lip smacking, pops, and clicks. Eliminate them when you find them. Such sounds can become amplified in the final mix.
(7) Listen for the overall balance between instruments. It is natural for each musician to want his or her own level to be higher. However, every instrument can't be the focal point. Mixing is about compromise. Mix with the sound of the whole song in mind.
(8) If the whole band will be present for mixing, appoint someone to be the spokesman. If you don't have a producer, you should nominate a member of the band to be the decision maker. Discuss your ideas among yourselves before coming into the studio and convey them to the engineer at the beginning of the mix session.
(9) Don't expect to get the mix right the first time. Take home a CD of your mixes and listen outside the studio—on your car stereo, on a boom box, on your home stereo—as may different systems as possible. As you listen take notes about what you hear and what needs fixing. Then you can tweak the mix during the next session. You may have to repeat this process two or three times to obtain the best possible mix.
(10) Limit mixing sessions to 8 hours. A mixing sessions should last no more than 8 hours to ensure your ears stay fresh and unfatiqued.
These are some of the tips to help you make the most of your mixing session.