After you’ve finished recording your individual tracks, your project is ready for mixing. Mixing is when you adjust and combine individual tracks into a stereo or multichannel format, a.k.a. the mix.
Mixing is a broad and complex topic, and different engineers develop their own methods for getting the job done. That said, there are still what we’d refer to as “best practices.”
This post will explore seven tried-and-true ways that are guaranteed to elevate the quality of your mixes.
MIX IN A TREATED ROOM
If you’ve ever auditioned one of your mixes in a professional studio, you likely noticed a huge step up in sound quality. You experienced balanced frequencies, exquisite detail, and rock-solid imaging.
While high-end gear plays a part in the sound of a pro-level studio, the biggest factor is its well-tuned acoustics. While it’s nearly impossible to make most rooms in typical residential housing sound as amazing as a purpose-built space, you can, with the right acoustic treatment, get pretty close.
Most home studios are built inside of a spare bedroom or similar space. Since these rooms are typically square or rectangular, they suffer from two common sonic deficits:
Because square and rectangular rooms contain an abundance of parallel surfaces, they’re teeming with flutter echo and slapback. If you hear a high-pitched, reverberant ring when you clap your hands, flutter echo and slapback are the reasons.
Flutter echo lends a hollow, tube-like sound to the room that will greatly affect your mixing decisions.
A second common problem created by the parallel surfaces in your room are standing waves. Standing waves occur at frequencies where the distance between any two surfaces is equal to one half of its wavelength.
Standing waves reinforce and attenuate different frequencies in your room. In other words, you’ll perceive some frequencies as louder than they actually are, while others will be perceived as quieter than they actually are.
To hear this for yourself, play back your mix while walking around your room. You’ll hear frequencies — especially bass frequencies — get louder and softer depending on where you’re standing.
Sometimes your bass will even disappear! Can you imagine how out-of-whack your mix will sound when it’s played back in a room without these same acoustic shortcomings?
So, what can you do about these issues? After all, you’re not going to remodel your house!
The answer is acoustic treatment.
There are three basic types of acoustic treatment: ………….
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