FAQ The Mixing Process
Here are some answers to very commonly asked questions about mixing:
Q: What is the mixing process?
Basically, mixing is the art of blending all the sounds recorded for a song, adding any effects to them and producing a stereo recording out of them.
There are infinite number of ways to approach mixing.
For one common approach to mixing a song, the general levels are first set for all of the recorded tracks in the song. Then each track will get its particular sound worked on, using all sorts of effects, to optimize it's sound in relation to all of the other sounds going on around it.
The vocals are usually 'soloed out' and listened to first, they're going to probably be the most prominent thing in the mix, so it's a good starting point.
Then the drums are worked on next. This usually takes the longest time as they are the most complex instrument in the process.
Then the bass is next to round out the rhythm section.
Then everything else.
Once the sound of each track is 'dialed in', the whole song is run through and listened to (over and over and over and over again) for any places where special tweaking attention is needed.
If the tracks are well recorded, mixing can be simple and easy. If not, or the production is very elaborate, mixing can be the most complicated step in the process.
DO NOT RUSH THIS PART OF THE PROCESS!!
if you do, you will only be disappointed later. You have to live with your mixes forever, make 'em ROCK!
Once everything's set and sounding great (not just heard), the mixing engineer will re-record the entire song as a 2-track stereo 'mix'.
Q: What are the basic do's and dont's of mixing?
- Do voice your opinion if you don't like something.
- Do try to be patient. Mixing can take a long time!
- Don't touch the mixing board. Leave that to the engineer.
- Don't get burned out on any one song.
Q: If I hear this song one more time, I'm going to lose my mind!
Yep. It happens, it sucks. Part of the process.
Mixing is arguably the most important step in the recording process, and it's very, very important to stay focused.
Unfortunately, mixing also involves listening to the same song over and over and over again. If it feels like you're losing touch with the song, or losing focus, take a break or move on to another song for a while.
Q: I want more "me" in the mix.
Before you say anything, make sure that you really do. Try to picture the song as a whole thing, not just a collection of individual parts. If you've carefully considered the interplay of all the parts, and you still think that your part should be louder, then say something.
Be prepared to be shot down by someone, and remember, if you've agreed to have a producer, they get to make the final call.
Q: I don't like what the producer's doing.
Mmm, this is sticky. First off, the producer should be open to your ideas. They're your songs. If the producer isn't paying attention to anything you say, you might want a new producer.
Talk to him or her. Try not to get emotional about it; explain yourself rationally.
If nothing else, try for a compromise.