Most of us want that polished consistency that draws listeners in when we're producing an album.
But obtaining a good album master with consistent sound starts with your album mixing. Mixing several songs while staying true to your album's overall feel is really a big challenge…
Wondering how to combine a recording? In this informative article you'll learn 10 mix tips that can help you get a far more cohesive sound across all of your mixes.
1. Use concepts, not copiesDon't just copy your channel strips, remember your process and repeat it instead.
You may be tempted to dial in the drums on the first track and then simply copy and paste each plugin over to the next song… But don't do it! It might allow you to get into some trouble.
Even though your source was tracked in exactly the same session with exactly the same microphones, audio can differ a whole lot between performances.
You'll likely need to readjust the threshold and attack/release of your compression anyways.
So remember what you've been doing with your processing conceptually as opposed to specific parameter settings. Utilize the same general concepts between tracks, but experiment with different colours of compression/EQ.
This process enables you to help keep your album cohesive overall and create subtle variation between your songs at exactly the same time.
2. Focus on your main elementsDecide what the focal points of one's mixes are and keep them consistent.
Things such as the overall level of the lead vocal or the total amount of sub bass are upfront for the listener. Keeping them in exactly the same ballpark is really a major factor for consistency.
Decide what the major aspects of your mix is going to be before you even start the process.
As an example, knowing that your lead vocal needs to command the most attention in the mix enables you to produce decisions that create space for this as you go.
Keeping the main elements in mind is likely to make it easier for you yourself to make decisions when you start each mix on your album. Decide earlyand mix accordingly.
3. Mix with headroom in mindDevelop good and consistent headroom habits—I can't stress this enough.
Leaving the right number of headroom gives you more clarity and better separation between the weather of every mix.
If you prefer consistency, you're gonna need that separation across all of your album.
Healthy headroom guarantees that your tracks is going to be ready for mastering once your mix is complete. Your entire mixing decisions result in mastering, so it's important.
Not sure how exactly to leave headroom? Read our headroom guide and start giving your mixes the right space.
Plus, good headroom across all of your songs provides you with a huge advantage as it pertains time to…
4. Use a mix referenceReference! Reference! Reference!
The more you compare your tracks against one another, the more you'll understand which ones must be pulled into the overall album feel that you're aiming for.
If most of the songs certainly are a similar level (healthy headroom), you'll be able to easily compare them to the other tracks on the album without getting misled by level differences.
Get some good reference tracks to use for your the complete project as well. They'll form a baseline you can reference as you mix from track to track.
Compare your mix to commercially released music, quick masters, or other versions of one's mix through your process.
Find out more about putting mix referencing into your personal workflow with our mix referencing guide.
5. Repeat techniques only when it makes senseRe-use certain techniques only when it's appropriate.
Simply because you used gated reverb on the snare in a single track doesn't mean every snare track on your album needs it. Consistency doesn't necessarily mean repetition.
Consistency doesn't necessarily mean repetition.
Keep a handful of go-to tricks up your sleeve, but all of your album will sound more cohesive if you use them tastefully and in context of every mix.
Don't squeeze something in only for the sake of consistency. Mix for cohesion, but take action smart. Remember, your tracks still need certainly to sound good on their own.
6. Use busesBussing is the procedure of routing multiple tracks to the exact same aux channel in your DAW (Digital Audio Wokstation).
Be smart about your busses and apply processing to multiple tracks at the same time where you can.
Bussing is ideal for situations where you've multiple microphones capturing the exact same source. Engineers in the analog era didn't have to put seven different compressors on every person mic and neither should you.
Engineers in the analog era didn't have to put seven different compressors on every person mic and neither should you.
Applying compression or EQ to multiple tracks on a shuttle lets you keep the bigger picture in mind as you go. See simply how much you can accomplish using just one processor.
If you have fewer processors to cope with, making changes across most of the mixes on your album is more manageable.
7. Make a master bus planIf you decide to do any master bus processing, be sure you have a plan.
Master bus (sometimes called 2-bus) processing applies effects to the whole mix via the master fader channel.
Remember, it's incredibly easy to create big sweeping changes to the sound of your mix when you're affecting it globally.
As an example: deciding on 2-bus chain that suits the vision of your project and tweaking it to suit each mix on your album is a great way to achieve consistency at the master bus.
If there isn't a well-thought-out plan which includes an obvious notion of what you're trying to accomplish with processing at the master bus, consider leaving it out altogether.
8. Take breaksEar fatigue is just a real issue for audio engineers—Meaning you!
A mix you do at the conclusion of a workshop session can be surprisingly distinctive from one you do at the start.
Consistency can suffer in the event that you work on some tracks with fresh ears and others with tired ears. You might start making certain decisions when you're tired that you wouldn't make otherwise.
Be extra careful about spending too much time working on headphones, or monitoring too loud in general.
As a rule of thumb, for every 2 hours of mixing your ears needs about 15-30 minutes quiet to remain fresh.
Your ears are your most valuable tool in the studio, so treat them accordingly.
9. Keep your tracks in checkBe cautious with extra tracks. If you're anything like me, you've probably gotten carried away in the studio and recorded a number of tracks of experimentation.
But If you throw in everything and the kitchen sink, you might find yourself struggling.
Keep your extra tracks under control and include them predicated on your general plan that I mentioned above. If they don't really fit the roadmap, consider removing them completely.
Don't change your primary elements just to make a throwaway track fit. Your cohesion find yourself suffering in the long run.
10. Master with your album in mindMixing for consistency doesn't end after the mixing is done. Mastering needs to preserve the sound you've worked hard to achieve for the album.
Mastering should preserve the consistency you've worked hard for in your mixes.
But If you're mastering track-by-track, keeping that cohesion can be tough.