The Mixdown Process

Alexi

Drench Audio
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#1
It's the part I hate most about making tunes, but it has got to be done.

When I feel I've finished a tune, I used to just find a good balance of the different tracks using the mixer, then EQ specific tracks that need it, sometimes using spectrum analysers to try and get drums that punch through the mix.

Then export the wav file and normalise, & do any final EQing to the whole track

This was enough for just listening to my tracks on their own, but I've now started to use them whilst mixing, and they never sit right in the mix like professionally mastered tunes.

Common problems are too much bass, making it thick & muddy, or a really loud snare. But when I go back and change these problems, it then sounds weak.

So I was just wondering what's the process or steps that other people use to create a more professional clean sound to their final mixdown of their tracks.

Cheers
 

Alexi

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#3
same problem with me... i think it comes down to what monitoring set up you are using as well as the acutal process!
Yeah I used to just used headphones, but now have a pair of alesis active monitors, but when I get a track sounding good on those, then they never sound good out of my decks setup with big PA speakers
 

motion audio

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#4
Its a lot to do with the listening environment, one thing I would say though is not to normalise the tracks you bounce down, because it'll be wasting the time you've spent to EQ and process things and getting them to sit right in the mix. If youve got no other option than to mixdown on the setup your using then trial and error is your best bet. A good thing to do is mix a track down, then go and play it on every cd player/computer/pa you can get your hands on, take a pen and pad with you, and jot down the problems with the mix on each system to refer back to when having another go at your mixdown. Bass is always a common problem as its a bugger to monitor acurately, I have similar problems when working on tunes. If you route your tunes through a mixer to send them to monitors, make sure the eq is flat on the mixer. Another good thing to do when youve got a track done is to get a tune you like the mixdown on, and place it next to your tune in your DAW, switch between the two and work on getting your tune to sit evenly with your reference track. Hope thats some help to you
 

Alexi

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#5
Its a lot to do with the listening environment, one thing I would say though is not to normalise the tracks you bounce down, because it'll be wasting the time you've spent to EQ and process things and getting them to sit right in the mix. If youve got no other option than to mixdown on the setup your using then trial and error is your best bet. A good thing to do is mix a track down, then go and play it on every cd player/computer/pa you can get your hands on, take a pen and pad with you, and jot down the problems with the mix on each system to refer back to when having another go at your mixdown. Bass is always a common problem as its a bugger to monitor acurately, I have similar problems when working on tunes. If you route your tunes through a mixer to send them to monitors, make sure the eq is flat on the mixer. Another good thing to do when youve got a track done is to get a tune you like the mixdown on, and place it next to your tune in your DAW, switch between the two and work on getting your tune to sit evenly with your reference track. Hope thats some help to you
Cheers for the advice, in terms of listening environment I try as many as possible, hifi, car, ipod, decks etc. I usually get it so it sounds decent in one of them but then listen to whats wrong in the other environments, so adjust it, and then it sounds horrible in the one where it original sounded ok.

Think trial and error is the way forward
 

motion audio

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#6
Yea thats the trouble, unless you've got a completely neutral room with some good monitors set up properly then what sounds great one place usualy sounds shite in another! Just keep giving it a bash though, theres no better way to learn than to keep trying different ways and see what works best.
 

JamesZero

aka Zero Beats
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#7
I try and get the mix down done as I go... rather the right at the very end.

I think it's good to have things sitting in the mix where you want to be before you start layering other things ontop. Obviously you have to go back and change things sometimes as the track progress'

Thing is, your comparing your tracks to tracks that have been proffessionally mastered, by mastering engineers in proper studios, so that why they sound so good.

There are mastering places that will master your track and give you a sample of it before you comit to buy. Might be worth trying that and seeing if it sounds how you want it.
 

Alexi

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#8
I try and get the mix down done as I go... rather the right at the very end.

I think it's good to have things sitting in the mix where you want to be before you start layering other things ontop. Obviously you have to go back and change things sometimes as the track progress'

Thing is, your comparing your tracks to tracks that have been proffessionally mastered, by mastering engineers in proper studios, so that why they sound so good.

There are mastering places that will master your track and give you a sample of it before you comit to buy. Might be worth trying that and seeing if it sounds how you want it.
Yeah I always roughly mix tracks into the right place as I'm working, but at the end it always needs sorting out, as I've turned some parts up to listen and others down etc.

As for professional mastering, I really don't have the money, and as it's only a hobby, it's not essential,

eventually when (or if) I get to the stage of sending out demos to labels, I'll have a look into it.
 

chromey

a.k.a Impact
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#10
As for professional mastering, I really don't have the money, and as it's only a hobby, it's not essential,
eventually when (or if) I get to the stage of sending out demos to labels, I'll have a look into it.
Bob Macc is well rated over on DOA..
www.scmastering.com
AIM: MaccSCMastering
email: macc at mastering.subvertbeats.com

Their prices aren't too bad either.
 

sam the dnb man

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#11
Also Subsonic gave me a good tip a while ago.
Compare your tune on a spectral analyser to a sub focus tune for example.
I like to compare my dubstep tunes to Bar9 tunes because they seem to use every frequency in their tunes.
 

Hightech

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#12
It's the part I hate most about making tunes, but it has got to be done.

When I feel I've finished a tune, I used to just find a good balance of the different tracks using the mixer, then EQ specific tracks that need it, sometimes using spectrum analysers to try and get drums that punch through the mix.

Then export the wav file and normalise, & do any final EQing to the whole track

This was enough for just listening to my tracks on their own, but I've now started to use them whilst mixing, and they never sit right in the mix like professionally mastered tunes.

Common problems are too much bass, making it thick & muddy, or a really loud snare. But when I go back and change these problems, it then sounds weak.

So I was just wondering what's the process or steps that other people use to create a more professional clean sound to their final mixdown of their tracks.

Cheers
Do you just eq your whole song or do u compress it aswell?

playing round with that might help
iv found it can almost completely change the sound of ur track, make all the sounds sound as one rather than seperate loops or samples.
 

kama

benkama.net
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#13
A few things caught my eye here

motion audio said:
one thing I would say though is not to normalise the tracks you bounce down
This is essentially wrong. Normalizing doesn't affect the balance of different instruments or eq balance either. It's simply a tool to maximise the peak levels of an audio file. The only drawback to it is that it boosts the noise floor level, but working completely in the digital realm that is usually not a problem. It's completely ok to normalize a master track to 99% or -0.2dB if you want to play it from a cd for example.

sam the dnb man said:
I like to compare my dubstep tunes to Bar9 tunes because they seem to use every frequency in their tunes.
While this is completely ok and A/Bing tunes with others is a sound policy, filling the sound spectrum for the sake of it is a bit meh. I also compare my tracks to "pro" tunes, keep in mind that some of those tracks are even produced by professionals, and almost all of them are mastered by such too. If you can hear that a tune is alright but "subfocus has more 7KHz", don't bother.
 

sam the dnb man

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#14
While this is completely ok and A/Bing tunes with others is a sound policy, filling the sound spectrum for the sake of it is a bit meh. I also compare my tracks to "pro" tunes, keep in mind that some of those tracks are even produced by professionals, and almost all of them are mastered by such too. If you can hear that a tune is alright but "subfocus has more 7KHz", don't bother.
I don't go over the top when I do it.
When I first started using this technique my tunes sounded very muddy.
I just use it as an example the improvise
 
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#15
most producers master and
mix their tunes on the fly...
saves time... a good work flow
is very important...

i see the composition and mix down
processes as being entirely merged
into one...

this is how I write a tune and
nearly every producer ive met works
this way to...
 

motion audio

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#16
most producers master and
mix their tunes on the fly...
Not a huge amount of people will do any in depth mastering themselves because it needs really good acoustics and acurate monitoring to do properly and get a good result. Mixing roughly as you go alongs always good though, usualy leaves you with just a few little bits when the tunes done.
 
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