Mixing Techniques:

Tracking is the process of recording audio files. These can then be arranged or sequenced to play in a particular order. MIDI and/or virtual instruments tracks can be included at any stage. Once you are happy with the song structure then comes the time to mix.

Mixing is the process of adjusting relative levels, pan-pot setttings and the application of EQ and effects. Although EQ in a DAW is often found as a plug-in, in many applications a dedicated EQ section is available for each audio and VI track. EQ is also encoutered on a hardware mixing console so we shall include the application of EQ in this section.

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The first process is the adjustment of levels. Try this virtual mixer above. Notice how different the song sounds when the bass or drums are pulled back. IMPORTANT: Many tracks are recorded in mono as opposed to stereo, it is the use of the Pan-Pot feature that places the mono tracks in the stereo field to create the stereo image, not necessarily stereo recordings. See how the vocals sound much bigger when panned in different directions.

Mono recorded tracks are very often: Vocals, Bass guitar, Acoustic guitar through a pick-up, Miked amplifiers and Brass. Stereo tracks are audio recorded with two microphones, the output of a VI or the left and right recorded channels of an external MIDI device. Stereo tracks are hard panned and the Pan-Pot control adjusts the balance between the left and right track. For example you may have Virtual Organ track but adjust the balance so that more sound comes form the right side whilst still benefiting from stereo reproduction.

Here are a few Tips and Tricks:

As your own mix progresses you will make large changes at first and towards the end you will find that very small chages can have a huge impact on the overall sound. If audio effects or EQ are applied to the track then levels will probably have to be re-adjusted.

EQ or Equalization:

Take a look at the graphics above. The one on the left shows a picture with a dark background and one one on the right with a lighter background. Which picture stand out the most? The one on the right, this is because there is more contrast between the picture and the background. EQ works in much the same way with sound.

EQ is the process of not just changing the tonal content of the sound in a 'pleasing' way but EQ can be used to boost or cut frequencies so that one particular sound or instrument is emphasized in one part of the audio spectrum and others in different ones. This creates contrast that allows the listener to focus on different instruments.

We are not going to get in depth here as this is a more advanced area of music production but we suggest that by experimentation the novice will gain knowledge and understanding of the process. Neveretheless here are a few tips and tricks:

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TECH TIP

In this case the use of a sub group is suggested. Buss all the BVs to a group then levels and FX can be applied to the group.

TECH TIP

Referring to pulling the fader down if the track is too loud. Not Mixdown or bounce down as with a final mix.

TECH TIP

'Wider' as in a stereo image, sometimes the Left and Right signals cancel each other out making space in the middle.

TECH TIP

Most music sequencers have SOLO available for each track, this MUTES or turns off all the other tracks.

TECH TIP

The frequency range will normally be displayed in the EQ editing window of the software.

TECH TIP

On an audio CD the spectrum goes from 20Hz to ~20KHz Kilo Herts or thousands of cycles per second.

TECH TIP

This is subjective to the engineer or listener.

TECH TIP

By cutting or boosting defined frequency bands. Either Hi-pass, Low-pass or both Band-pass.

TECH TIP

0dB or decibells is the maximun level that can be burnt to CD. This can be 'fixed' if you go through a Mastering process.

TECH TIP

Keep an eye on you overall total output level. Try placing a limiter on the Master outs as well.

TECH TIP

Found in more advanced Music Sequencing software.

TECH TIP

Electric guitars, Backing vocals, Synth parts but don't overdo it. If more than one try reversing the delay settings.

TECH TIP

Also termed hard panned, one track fully left and other fully right.

TECH TIP

i.e. Many versions of the same take. Also termed double tracking, these days the use of many layers is common.

TECH TIP

Leave the loudest in the centre and layers a little bit off centre.

TECK TIP

So the same encoder is Pan with a Mono track and Balanace with a Stereo track.

TECH TIP

FLASH is not good at syncronizing audio files so some tracks may sound out of time.

TECH TIP

EQ or equalization: To cut or boost selected frequencies to alter the tone of the sound.

TECH TIP

Digital Audio Workstation: The combimation of the computer, software and audio interface.

TECH TIP

External MIDI devices will have to be recorded as audio before the final mix is commenced. You Can't hear MIDI.