Music Mixing Advice
Are you looking for some music mixing advice? These tips will help you edit your music so it sounds just the way you want.
What Equipment Do I Need?
You need to be able to accurately hear the music you are mixing. Though you may really enjoy the big booming subwoofer that came with your computer speakers, the subwoofer exaggerates the bass so you will need different equipment. Most people listening will have small speakers, so you need to make sure it will sound fine when they listen.
- Studio Headphones. If you have ever looked at the headphones worn in music and film studies, they are frequently a black pair of closed headphones that have a red or blue mark on the side. Those headphones are made by Sony. The original version, made in the 1980’s, is still available today. The model is Sony MDRV6. Make sure you get the V6 model and not the V600, since the 600 is completely different. There is also a slightly more modern version of the V6. It is known as the MDR7506. The clarity on these headphones is amazing. Chances are the music you listen to was mixed using these cans.
- Studio Monitor Speakers. You can also use speakers, but not just any regular speaker. You want a studio monitor that will produce a flat, clean sound. Look at models made by M-Audio as a place to start.
You will also need a computer to do your mixing. Both a MAC and a PC will work. Audio is not as demanding as other multimedia applications, so you don’t need the fastest computer to make a good mix. However, shopping for a newer computer certainly won't slow down your mixing.
How Do I Know what to Mix?
The approach you should take when mixing will depend on whether you are creating your own work or making a mix for a client. If the client wants a specific sound, or wants you to be conservative or go crazy, then that is what you will have to do.
If you are making something for yourself, however, then let your creative abilities guide you. Listen to the music...really listen to the music. Chances are the music itself will reveal the best direction to take.
Can My Mix be too Loud?
The deceptive thing about music is that even poor mixes will begin to sound good when played loud enough. As much as you may enjoy playing back your mix at loud levels, resist this urge. When changing the decibel levels of your instruments, you should be able to notice a change in the music with only a tenth or two-tenths change in decibels. If you don’t notice a change when making this adjustment, you’ll need to make further adjustments before changing the volume again.
Music Mixing Advice: What about Vocals?
If you are adding a singer to your mix, record flat and don’t use any special effects. Use the right microphone that is most appropriate for the singer’s voice. In your mix, you can go ahead and eliminate all vocals below 100 Hz and above 12,000 Hz. To add some warmth to the singing, increase by 2-4 dB at 160Hz for male singers and at 320Hz for female singers.
How do I Make my Sounds more Unique?
One piece of music mixing advice to remember is that many older instruments will work with your computerized mix. Older gear often has a different sound, sometimes more authentic than modern gear. Search around for some older stuff and try using it in your mix.
Also, use the equalizer to help achieve the sound you are looking for. Normally you use the equalizer to boost sounds, but it can also cut sounds to create the sound you want. For example, on the bass track, try removing everything above 5K. What is left is still a deep bass sound, but without some higher frequencies getting in the way.