What is Mixing?
Mixing is all about importing the tracks that you've spent hours on and combining them to create a cohesive, but still unique-to-you, sound. If you've loaded your songs in your DAW, but can't quite get them to sound like other artists music, getting a professional mix might be just the thing you need.
Audio engineering, to me, is about storytelling. I want my mixes to break barriers so your music and lyrics can connect directly to your listeners. The mixing process involves enhancing what you've created, manipulating the audio so your song has power and emotion without losing the clarity of your lyrics or key instrument parts.
Throughout the mixing process, you have opportunities to ensure your creative vision is being achieved. This usually works in the form of mix revisions, where I'll send you a mixed version of your song and you'll be able to send back any feedback you have. Sometimes it takes a few rounds to fully realize the vision - and that's okay. This revision process is all about making sure it's your music and your sound, not mine.
The Mixing Process
This is the typical process I follow as your mix engineer.
1: Session Preparation
During session preparation, I load your audio files into my DAW and do some initial checks to ensure everything is present and usable. I like to load your demo or reference track into my DAW at this stage as well as this helps me check for anything important that might be missing.
2: Edits and Tuning
In this stage, any necessary edits are made on your audio to make sure it is ready for mixing. I also typically do initial tuning as needed at this stage. Editing can be light touches to clear out background noise between vocal lines, or go as far as complex edits to address timing issues. Not every mix needs editing, but I still keep an ear out for edits that I need to make sure your tracks soudn their best.
Before I add a plugin or tweak anything else in your session, I will go ahead and build a faders-only mix. I find this to be immensely helpful in the later stages of the mix process. This typically looks like using clip gain and faders to build a mix. At this stage I can address clarity or masking issues using volume and panning for separation. I highly recommend this process for starting any mix!
4: Full Mix
Now that preparation, edits, tuning, and balancing are done, I will start to listen out for problem areas. For example, is the low-end losing definition? Is there a build-up in the midrange? At this stage I will introduce tools like equalization (EQ), compression, saturation, and effects to solve these sonic problems. As an example, if a guitar is washing out vocals, I may introduce some EQ to help duck some vocal frequencies in the guitar.
Automation brings the mix to life by restoring dynamics that may have been reduced earlier in the mixing process. For example, I might automate a chorus to be a little louder than verses. Individual words or phrases can also be automated to improve clarity. Music is not a static thing: it has movement! Automation ensures that the mix is musical.
Once everything is tidied up, you will receive a copy of the mix. At this stage you can listen back and identify potential tweaks or improvements you want to make. Revisions are always included in every project.
7: Final Delivery
When the final mix is approved and no more revisions are needed, I deliver the final mix to you. This delivery includes a few different files. Delivery includes:
- Your mix ready for distribution
- A version of your mix that is prepared for passing along to a professional mastering engineer (which I recommend)
- Files for all your alternates - for example, cleans, instrumentals, acapellas.
If you are not sure just what all these files are for, feel free to let me know and I can walk you through the delivery in more detail.
What about Mastering?
Mastering is the process of performing final tweaks to a track before distribution. Often this includes processes that ensure the track is competitively "loud", and making tweaks as needed to problematic frequencies in the track. While I can (and will) provide tracks that are ready for distribution by performing my own mastering, I generally recommend that your tracks go to a mastering engineer for mastering to maximize the quality of your record.
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