1. Use Groups and Busses for Mix Preparation
First, when you open a new project and start working on it, be systematic and prepare professionally. Make sure you have sorted all the tracks. If the tracks are not systematically arranged, it'll take time for you to make the complete mix and often lose much of the time looking for which track you last worked on.
There's a quick tip to prepare. Create sub-groups and route the tracks correctly. For eg. - guitars bus, vocals bus, etc.
Preparing groups and busses will allow you to simplify the mix and control the volume of many tracks with just one fader. After that, just apply EQ and Compression on all the tracks as required.
2. At the Chorus, Push the Master Fader +1 dB
To keep the listener engaged with the song, there needs to be extra energy at the beginning of the song. Therefore, we added this tip to the top of this list.
When you think that energy is needed in this particular part of the song, increase the volume to +1 dB. And when the section gets over, bring it back to normal levels. It will leave an effect on the listener and make them want to listen more to it. This tip is quite popular among sound engineers.
3. Stereo Width of Reverb
The third pro tip is to automate the reverb effects. Generally, when a song is getting created, the reverb is set to +/-100 for the entire song. Here's what you can do. Narrow down the reverb to +/-50 for some of the sections in the song and then bring it back to normal.
4. Adding Pre-delay to Reverb
The pre-delay setting is a way of getting a great reverb sound. Adding longer pre-delay settings to the mix will add more depth to the reverb.
Also, automating the pre-delay for a few sections of the song can bring a big difference to the mix. Depending upon the mix, you can use a range of 20 ms for soft or subdued sections and around 100 ms for big sections.
5. Automating a High-pass Filter
Here's a great tip to bring a good feel to the low end of the song. For sound engineers, this is hard to bring to a mix.
We would recommend you to experiment with a high-pass filter at 90 Hz. Let the listener get accustomed to the balance of the bass by keeping the HPF at 90 for major sections of the song. Drop the HPF to 40 Hz when it feels right and bring in an extra octave of bass. It will work great with any mix.
6. Automating the Mix Bus Compression
Mix bus compression is the part where compression gets added to your entire mix. It is also another name for the output of your DAW. Depending on the DAW, it's also called the master bus or stereo bus.
Your mix can jump to a whole new level if a small amount of compression is added to your mix bus chain. Though, it needs to get done correctly to add excitement to a mix.
Generally, 1-2dB of gain reduction on the mix bus compressor is all you need. But here's the hack! You can keep experimenting with this threshold and bring life to the mix that you create.
You can try reducing it even more to have no gain reduction at a few sections of the song and then bring it back to original levels to stick the tracks together.
7. Sidechaining the Vocals
For a sound mixing engineer, creating a balance between vocals and the music is one of the toughest jobs to get it done right. You need to control the dynamics of the vocals effectively or they will never quite sit right in the mix.
To achieve this, many mix engineers use the technique of sidechaining the vocals. Compress the keys, guitar, backing vocals then sidechain the vocals. Just use 1 dB of gain reduction on the music when the vocal is singing. It creates a room for the vocals to seep in the track and make a cut.
8. Stereo Width to create a Fuller Sound with Mid-size EQM
Mid-side EQ is an equalizer that encodes a stereo signal into detached mono and stereo channels. Use M/S EQ to create a stereo image that is wide on a full mix or individual elements.
Stereo width can be created by changing the balance between mid and side levels. For eg., widen a signal by boosting high frequencies in the side channel or attenuating low frequencies in the mid-channel. Stereo widening is also beneficial for sound design.
These are some of the many sound mixing tips that can be extremely useful when you want to create a great mix. A sign of a good sound engineer is the one who keeps experimenting with the basics of sound mixing constantly to improve the skills as well as create some great mixes.
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We provide intensive training on sound mixing & mastering, acoustics, studio technology, and much more. To get more details on sound engineering and other music courses, contact us