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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-09-2012, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 269
Need help with mixing!

Hey guys,

I've recently gotten into recording in a full band situation. I have all the instruments and vocals recorded but I always have trouble with mixing and leveling each track.

The music is just typical 70s/80s hard rock guitar driven stuff so I'm looking for a nice mix like that.

My rig is Protools (old version, I think 6), have a boat load of new plugins as well.

All guitars were done with an Axe-Fx Ultra and the drums are done in Superior Drummer so those for sure sound good haha.

If anyone can give me some basic frequencies to cut in each instrument and or has any tips/tricks to share that'd be most righteous of you! Thanks!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-14-2012, 11:36 AM
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Re: Need help with mixing!

Check out these 2 links Pan everything first.Never solo anything,just because something sounds good on its own doesn't mean its going to sound good with everything else.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Re: Need help with mixing!

Definitely look up some guides online - you asked a very general question that has a wide range of answers lengthy answers for each instrument.

You are using an AXE-FX so I presume you are DIing and not using guitar cabs? I tend to find for guitar cabs HPF is your friend. You can cut a shelf out of a 70hz and below or so. For guitars and bass ( and when working with live drums for that matter ) there is nearly always something around the 150hz - 250hz area that can have a little notch taken out with a medium Q setting. Tends to be a lot of wool and resonance in and around there.

With vocals you can cut a bit out with your HPF too, and I usually find a sweet spot to put in a slight 1 or 2dB bump in the upper frequencies.

Above all, think about how each thing you are mixing is working with one another. ie, use Frequency/Spectrum analysers to look at what is happening where on your over all mix. For example, the bass guitar can become muddled up with the kick drum if the low end frequencies are all happening within a similar place. Just because you are using software drums, don't be afraid to look what they are doing within an analyser.

Also, use compression properly. Most tracks will require some form of compressor. I presume you are using plugins for this - some are more coloured than others. Find one with a good reputation and learn to use it properly, and not excessively. This will keep the levels of each track consistent and again, help with your clarity. You'll need it more so for things like bass guitar. Sometimes techniques like parallel compression is very useful for keep dynamics and controlling levels at the same time.

Don't over look your stereo out 2-track bus. This will effectively be your mastering section ie the area that you treat the over-all mix after you are happy with every individual track. Mild over all EQ, mild compression. To ensure clarity and to make use of your stereo depth, be sure you have looked at how each track is panned. Correct panning may seem obvious, but it can make the most of your mix by creating a wider image to work in. Many layers slapped on top of one another are very difficult to control.

After all this, if any sections are still being troublesome, don't be afraid to go into your track automation features and crank, dip or pan specific sections and lines.

Again, this is an extremely general guide of little pointers that I use on a daily basis in the recording studio I work at.

You can go much more in depth for each instrument, you just need to look up a summarised guide online. People have wrote entire series of books on this subject!

Good luck!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 12:49 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
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Re: Need help with mixing!

This is worth a purchase, if you're serious about learning to mix:

Also, as just sort of a general thought... There really aren't any "cut here by XXdb" rules when it comes to mixing. Yes, high-passing rhythm guitars is usually a good idea to clear up the low end (as is low passing them much higher to keep the high end from fighting with your cymbals), but the exact frequency of that filter is going to depend on what sort of amp you're using and how it's set, what sort of guitar and pickup you're using and where frequencies tend to fall, the mic you're using and what it captures/rejects, and even what your guitar is tuned to... As well as what the bass is doing and how it's been treated, what's going on with your kick/toms, etc. It's entirely interactive.

The best advice I can give you is look at mixing like problem solving - learn what your tools (EQs, compressors, etc) are capable of doing, then listen critically, identify problems where things in your mix are clashing, and use your tools to fix them. It's super reductionist, but it's also a very effective approach.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 04:46 AM
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Re: Need help with mixing!

There's great advice here. In my experience you will also save yourself a lot of problems in the mix down stage if you are completely happy with the initial recording. It can be a real headache to get rid of unwanted gremlins in the original recording no matter the library of plug-ins you can apply. Speaking of plug-ins, don't be afraid to trial and error them - in the words of Joe Meek; "if it sounds right it is right". You might find some magic energy in there! E.q. wise it's generally better to notch out a little spot here and there rather than drastically adding e.q. to something but this goes back to recording the initial track well. Don't forget to try listening to your mixes through a variety of different speakers and headphones. The mix might sound a bit rough on high end monitoring speakers but might sound perfect on your home stereo. After all, not everyone owns Meyer HD1's. Lastly, don't spend too much time struggling with a mix or part of a mix. When it becomes a real pain, move onto another part or song. You'll be amazed how many times you can come back to a difficult part with fresh ears and be much more productive.

Good luck and remember to let us know where we can hear the finished product!

One last thing, it helps to reference other recordings in the same vein as you are working on. What can you hear in those songs? Are the drums heavily processed? Is there heaps of reverb or effects on a specific instrument? What type of mic did that vocalist use? Where in the stereo spectrum do the instruments sit? Doing this can give you ideas and also help focus where you want your project to end up.

Rock on!

Last edited by GoodVaibes; 01-22-2015 at 04:53 AM.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 02:56 PM
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Re: Need help with mixing!

Hey man, for the drums, i typically dump everything below 80 on each channel (maybe hi pass at 60 on the kick. if you want more low-end punch) and i would hi pass the overheads, hats and any other cymbal mic pretty aggressively, i usually cut everything below 4-5khz on those. I low pass guitars starting at 15k and bring in the filter until the high sizzle starts to really go, then i bring it back just a hair. guitars depending on the tone and playing style can be tricky. but if high and low pass them at the right spots, they can sound pretty good just doing that.

for vocals, it depends on the mic you used, what delays you're using and if you're using any reverb.

panning wise, for drums, i dont hard pan the OH mics or the ride and hats, i usually bring them in a bit and hard pan the guitars so that way those nice tones you worked on arent competing with the decay and shimmer of cymbals.

bass is always up the middle and high and low pass that depending on the tone from the amp and the mic choice.

also take into account what most people are going to listen to the track to with. earbuds, computer speakers, etc. so playing it safe and carving out more of the low end/sub fqs. isn't going to hurt too much.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 06:04 PM
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Re: Need help with mixing!

I've been trying to learn more about mixing too... and have found some good info on this website in the "tech tips" section.


Edit: It replaced the name of the store in the link with asterisks... dammit. Just copy the link and put it in your browser and replace the asterisks with m u s i c i a n s f r i e n d... without the spaces of course.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Re: Need help with mixing!

I would check out anything Jack Douglas has done for rock n roll mixing. he's done a ton of records that I use for reference at the studio. And he's a really nice guy. Met him through work and was the friendliest dude and talked about a bunch of tips and tricks for in the studio. If i was allowed a pen and notepad i'd have written them all down!
Vuvuzela is offline  

boosting , cutting , frequencies , mixing

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