Mixing and mastering often get blended into one but they are quite different and each play their own part in creating a song that sounds it’s best for release.
Both use similar tools and equipment but the goals for each process are quite different.
So what is mixing?
Mixing is the blending together (or balancing) of the multiple tracks from a recording session into one stereo mix in a way that’s balanced both in frequencies and volume, where everything can be heard clearly in its own space.
What about mastering?
Mastering is the final stage your mixed song goes through to get it into an optimal state for release on to your format of choice and is applied only to the final approved stereo mix.
Mastering involves getting the mix louder and to the correct specification for its destination, for example, online streaming, CD or vinyl.
It also involves trying to correct any sonic imbalances that might be present in the...
Using compression on bass to solidify the part and make it ever-present and consistent means that you can shape your low-end mix much easier and place the bass in its own defined space in the mix.
If you've mixed rock and indie music for any length of time then you’ll no doubt be familiar with the concept of compressing bass. The two telltale giveaways of an amateur mix are a bass that's too loud and muddy AND one that's not consistent. So today, I want to focus on compressing bass guitar in a typical rock or indie mix to fix these common problems.
Watch the video to see me provide several ways to use compression on bass to get it to sit solidly and provide drive and energy in a typical pop-punk mix.
If you want to learn more about low end mixing then you might want to check out my blog where I talk about mixing kick and bass for a full, yet tight, low end mix or, if...
Check out my top 10 plugin picks for this year to help you decide.
So many plugins, so little time!
In this video, I’m recommending my top 10 plugin choices to you to use along with your stock plugins to expand your plugin collection to give you a few more options to create some unique and awesome sounds in your mixes.
Scroll down and enter to win 1 of 2 copies!
Learning how to use an equalizer well is time-consuming, so when a plugin comes along that claims to intelligently EQ signals in an easy to use way, no matter if you are a DIY musician, mixing engineer or mastering engineer then I’m curious to give it a try.
EQ masking is a common problem when mixing music and this is what the Gullfoss plugin is all about.
The Gullfoss plugin listens to a signal and allows you to analyze the audio to make quick and precise fixes that would otherwise be unsolvable or take huge amounts of time and experience to find.
In this video, I give Gullfoss the task of tackling a dull, muffled sounding acoustic guitar and then a complete mix.
I also get to give away 2 copies of this amazing plugin! Enter below for...
It can be a hard concept to grasp when you’re first starting out so, in this video, I wanted to explain what compressors do in music by taking a step back and explaining the concept of compression and why we use it and then show a few basic examples on vocals, snare and kick drum.
This video is not so much about compressor settings but more about the mindset and concept of compression explained.
It’s a tricky technique to grasp and can take a long time to master but by understanding what a compressor does to music, how it controls the dynamics and changes the tone, then we can apply it with more understanding and creativity.
Explaining compression is easy on the face of it, it’s a simple piece of equipment but understanding how we can use it in a musical way takes a little more practice.
If you're looking for my FREE download for vocal...
I think it’s because mixing is just so subjective and a lot of mixing decisions come down to taste rather than technique. And it’s true, you never stop learning so seeking out ways to get better at mixing usually involves working with the low end somehow.
But subjectivity aside, what about low end mixing mistakes?
Well, the low end is where you can easily get it wrong and you can’t get away with “it’s a taste thing”.
Too much going on in the low end of a mix is a telltale sign of inexperience or a bad, or unfamiliar listening environment.
Mixing kick and bass is something I get asked about a lot and I’ve explained in blog posts and the written word but I’ve never done a video, until now!
Many have asked about my approach and in this weeks video, you’ll get to see inside one of my most recent Pro Tools sessions where I go...
Nothing is worse than after spending hours on a mix, pondering over every move and finally having it sound great in your studio, to then hear it on a different system and it sounds horrible.
We’ve all been there and felt the frustration that goes along with it, so how can we ensure our mixes will sound great, everywhere?
Far from using references to “copy” ideas or constrain our creativity, references are used to check a few basic areas of a mix for consistency and prevent making simple mistakes.
It’s true to say that with experience there will come a time when needing to check reference tracks becomes less and less necessary, particularly as your experience and confidence grows and I see no harm - no matter what mixing level you’re at - taking a couple of minutes at the end of a mix to carry out a quick...
To be honest, I avoid mixing in headphones, I just prefer to mix on studio monitors but I know that some people have no choice but to mix with headphones.
I use headphones as another “mix checker” and as a way to hear the finer details of a mix or any clicks or hums that I need to sort out before I can call a mix finished.
I would hazard a guess and say that headphones are probably how most people listen to music today, so it makes sense to check how your mix sounds on a typical “consumer” pair of headphones and a good set of studio headphones.
Mix checks aside, what about when you have to do the whole mix with headphones?
Well, it can be done, and done very well once you know the pitfalls and how to get around them.
In this video, I go over the different types of studio headphones and which type is best for mixing, then, I give you my best tips for getting the best results possible when...
Building in time for intentional practice will see our mixing skills come on in leaps and bounds.
Even just 15 mins of “intentional” practice can help take us from average to great quicker than just aimlessly noodling around for a couple of hours.
So what do I mean when I say “intentional practice”?
Well, by recognising and committing to practising in our weakest areas, we are focused on exactly where we need to improve and can target those areas by repeatedly going over and over our chosen weak spot until we get the result we are after.
Practising at the peak of our ability and then adding a new task that is just outside our skill level and repeating it is the best way to structure your intentional practice sessions. By doing this, that 15 or 30 min practise session really accelerates our skillset as a mixer or musician.
So YAY! for practice, now, you just need some multitrack files to practice with.
I get asked regularly to critique peoples mixes and I love doing so because it gives me an excuse to listen to more music and talk to other people with a similar interest and, I hope, actually help them.
What it has also given me is a little insight as to some of the more common mixing mistakes home studio musicians and music producers make when they mix music at home.
Aside from the acoustic issues created by our small home studio mixing spaces, there tend to be some other mixing problems that are down to lack of experience or knowledge, where great gains can be made by some simple, small changes in workflow or approach.
In this video, I go over the common problems that I see over and over again and I offer advice that will help fix these issues and have you mixing faster and with more confidence.