Today, we are bringing you my Top 10 Mixing Tips! These tips are things are are super common and that I do to every single song I mix! I hope you all learn something new today!
There is also a cheat sheet to go with today’s video!
Here are the Top 10 Things I do to Every Mix!
1. PHASE ALIGNING YOUR KICKS TO EACH OTHER
Quite often I receive at least 2 sometimes 3 and occasionally 4 mics on a Kick/Bass drum! All of them are recorded in various positions, inside the kick, outside, pulled back, with a resonator kick and with lots of different mics, dynamics, large diaphragm condensers, ribbons, an NS10 kick mic..you get the picture! All of this creates a huge potential for phase issues! If the mics are roughly within 100-150 samples of each other then I will time them to latest one using ‘Time Adjuster’, if there is a mic that’s a long way back then I will consider it a mono room mic. If your DAW doesn’t have Time Adjuster, you can move them, however please make a copy of the playlist so you can always go back to where the file was originally located!
2. PHASE ALIGNING SNARE TO THE OVERHEADS
Phase loaning the snare to the overheads adds a huge amount of body to the snare and allows you to keep the overheads sounding natural! In the past mixers would remove all of the low end and low mids from their overheads because the phase cancellations meant the snare lost its body, however this meant the cymbals often sounded harsh, many Rock albums made in digital formats from the 90’s and early 2000’s don’t translate well into modern listening environments because of this. With a simple amount of time delay on the snare top and bottom you can maintain the natural sound and stereo imaging the overheads provide the whole kit.
3. THE TOM TRICK – NEW PLUG IN REVIEW COMING SOON
This trick I learned from Mark Endert. It’s a little time consuming but works well, I either gain down, by minus 18db between the hits and cross fade for smooth transition or I use ‘clip gain’ in my DAW. Since I discovered the AIX DSP Multiband Gate this process is no longer necessary and I am able to create an even better effect significantly faster!
4. REDUCING SNARE BLEED IN OVERHEADS AND ADDING SNAP TO THE SNARE
This is a favourite of mine because it gives me that extra snap I associate with my SSL console! I take the snare top mic and key it to a compressor on the overheads, this gentle ducking is just on the snare hits adding a great snap, pushing the snare even further forward! This trick can also be employed on the snare track to remove excessive amounts of the kick in the snare track, be careful of a four on the floor groove, you’ll end up ducking the snare with every kick hit! Occasionally there may be a single hit of kick on the snare, this can be automated for those occasions.
5. EQ REVERB TO REMOVE EXCESSIVE LOW END AND HIGH END (ABBEY ROAD TRICK).
The Abbey Road trick is a common sense answer to removing build up of excessive low and high end. Typically anywhere from 400-600hz below is removed and anywhere from 3-4k up is removed in an EQ applied before your reverb. A well mixed Kick/Bass Drum may have a low end focus around 40-70hz, this is not something you want your reverb to reproduce! It will add mud, reduce definition and make it impossible in Mastering to create definition in the low end. Similarly excessive high end reverb from Acoustic guitars will create a high frequency haze, that messes with how you hear the Vocals. High and Low Passing your reverbs will create far more clarity in your mix. Some reverb plug ins already have this feature built, if you’re not sure if your reverb plug in does and find the plug in ‘fiddly’ or overly complicated then applying an EQ first is simpler.
6. BASS MIXING TRICK WITH ONLY ONE SOURCE
I often get songs to mix that only have one source on the Bass, typically a DI only. Duplicating the DI and using one of the sources for low end only and the other for high end will give you great control of Bass! The high/low pass usually works best around 150-200 hz, I will also high pass the low end part of the two sources around 40hz gently so the low end signal is very focussed between 40-150hz. The second DI can have saturation/distortion added to it to give it more personality.
7. PANNING GUITARS WIDE ADDING REVERB OPPOSITE
This is a very simple technique to add width to guitars. I will pan one guitar hard left and then have it’s reverb panned hard right, then do the opposite to the other guitar! Keeping a reverb mono in only one speaker maintains clarity in your mix. [Check out our Top 10 Tricks for Mixing Guitars!]
8. DYNAMIC DELAYS AND DYNAMIC REVERBS
Dynamic Delays and Reverbs create clarity while giving vocals and instruments more interest. The send you use to go to your reverb/delay also goes to the Key input compressor placed after the effect, this means that every time the singer or instrumentalist plays the effect is ‘ducked’ then comes up immediately afterwards. It’s a very natural effect as it follows the dynamics of the source, a far better way to fill in the effect than trying to do it with automation and frankly a lot quicker and easier!
9. USE DISTORTION/SATURATION TO GREAT EFFECT – DISTORTING ROOM MICS
Distortion and saturation has become a very popular way to make virtual instruments sound more interesting! However it can work wonders with organic/dynamic tracks as well! On harsh room mics or overheads the high end can be soaked up saturation, on pointed transient sources like snares it can soften the peaks and add body to the source! Plus of course saturation on a vocal can add aggression to a singer that was intended but didn’t translate in their performance!
10. MULTIPLE REVERBS AND DELAYS!
I use multiple reverbs and delays, I favour short ones for verses, long ones for choruses. Always blend between them, never completely muting unless a deliberate mute is intended. I often use 3-4 Reverbs and the same amount of delays! Short distorted delays or tape emulations mixed low add body and aggression to a vocal.