Mixdown/tedious fiddling

any tips?

could someone remind me how to a/b with another track i think hubb wrote a really good description somewhere on the old forum

i was planning on using my hifi speakers to reference, usually do that with the bass on them turned up cos otherwise it’s hard to hear-would i get a more accurate feel from having them on normal settings (bit of a silly question but think i’ll get monitors when i’m back in london around end of the month)

i keep stuff fairly simple and attempt to keep drums -6->-8 and bass like -8->-10 so i can mix the master channel up to -0 but though i’m less likely to get 1 bit stabbing right into the ear drum these days i still struggle with elements not mixing with each other or sounding punchy

sometimes put on a limiter and an eq on that, you’re supposed to ideally bounce the tune then do that, why is that?

bound to be in this thread?


imho if you’re used to your speakers and how other tracks sound on them, then you could use them to reference. I usually listen via as many sources as possible - in the car, headphones, etc.

1 BigUp

Yeah this, isn’t necessarily the most accurate method but if you know how things sound through your speakers or headphones or car stereo or whatever you could use that to reference

One of many references.

If your speakers don’t represent/reproduce bass or sub frequencies, knowing how other tracks sound on there is not going to help you judge your sub. Basically everything will sound like it has no sub, that is not much help.

Likewise if your speaker has issues around the crossover between the woofer and tweeter, and you have important elements happening there, you just may not hear them, and knowing how other tracks sound that don’t have elements as prominent in that range won’t help.

You really do need pretty good quality monitors that can push enough air to rep sub, or enough sub to at least make judgements.


Re how to mix and master, there are a lot of ways, and daws etc give you even more ways.

This is what I’d recommend, even if I don’t do it.

I’d stem out your track to audio.

I’d take those stems in a new song file, and in there mix the audio. Just eq/comp/saturate/limit/volume adjust each of those tracks, doing fader runs or automation to get everything right at every moment for every element of the song.

You can do that in your original song file, but it may get confusing, having everything else in there already happening.

Also, your computer may not be able to handle all the vst’s and fx of the track, PLUS all your mixing plugs, like eq/comp/saturation on every track.

Then when you get your song mixed, print that to a stereo file peaking around -6db.

Then open a new song file and then master in there.

You’re basically going to do the same thing again here in the mastering file, eq/comp/saturate/limit.

I find this discrete process to be the best, not easiest or fastest, but really helps focus your mind/ears on what you’re doing.

But with a lot of tracks, I’m just sketching, I mix as I go, I don’t even do level balancing let alone eq/comp’ing, and then just master the sketch on my master channel. But then listen to my tracks and see where that gets you.

1 BigUp

thanks guys been reading a bunch of those old moneyshot threads

in one of the tutorials the dude turned everything to zero then went up from there seemed like a cool tip, i think noways you were in there saying you start with a kick and build around that ?

i’d have done it with todays couple tunes but i had the drum sound near enough to what i wanted and couldn’t face starting from zero like that

noways with the -6 thing, i assume you mean master volume level peaks at -6 naturally from your other levels or can u just turn down the master fader, think i saw people say not to fiddle with that

You can fiddle with your master fader but that is like jerking off during a date.

Yeah, get everything else right, and your master will COME UP to -6db.

Really what I recommend is work up, always up, never really turning down. Get to where a mix is okay, everything is balanced properly, and where you’ve still got a lot of headroom left, then start applying texture and hair to your sounds, breathing life into them, this will raise the peaks even further, so the point is to start well enough below that.

Re starting with the kick, yes I used to religiously do that, but that was a little earlier in my learning about this. I still look at my kick level when setting my monitor level (which is a lot more dynamic now, used to just be in the studio, in a static listening environment so everything was reproducible), and still check to make sure my kicks are not over -12db. But, my workflow has changed a bit since then. I used to use the kick as the grain that started the crystal of the song - everything would be based upon the structure of the kick, so tonality, dynamics, tempo, volume. I’m still using kicks, but I’m doing a lot more with breaks now, so they usually have a dynamic already set, like their kick/snare relationship is usually pretty set, and what I like, so I don’t fux with that.


Think of loudness like brightness of light. In the end you want to have a bright picture. You start from complete blackness, you start adding light sources. If the lights you add are too bright, or are as bright as they can be (0dbfs) there is no room to go from there. Everything will be in relation to that brightest thing, everything will be degrees darker than that brightest thing.

Best to start in darkness and bring your lights in, but keep them dim, create the picture, the relative balance of lightness and darkness between the elements, and as you do that, you increase the intensity of your light, you increase the saturation, the color richness, at the end you begin to lose some detail, but you trade that detail for brightness, and bringing brightness into the textural shadows where interesting things happen (that is limiting, that last part).

Really look forward to hearing your tunes. You’ve got the art down, imo, if your craft comes up, you’ll be decidedly off the chain.

thank u, couldn’t have done it without this place and the patience of users like you, gatineau hubb and so on

find more time for thinking about the drier stuff like this,

got a couple new bits in the snh dubs thread with different mixdown techniques

do you still do studio work? is this sort of thing your day to day job? it’s strange doing these processes that have been the preserve of a trained engineer since recorded music took off

just tried starting from the kick on an old track and it’s a great tip! don’t know about using it for everything ever but really cool to have a benchmark to work from rather than taking wild guesses till it sounds acceptable

That is the whole rub of it. And having room to work. I started recording music at the end of analog, and was on low end equipment, so recording hot was vital to get above the noise floor, then in early digital, had to record hot to maximize bit depth. I dipped, then the whole world went 24/32 bit depth, and I continued to work pressed up against the ceiling until some dsf/p legends scraped me off. Jah bless what dsf was.

Don’t do any pro work of any kind anymore. I’m at a retirement home and spend the days scrubbing my dentures.

Not useful but…I fucking hate mixing in the box…I pretty much have the most primitive analog recording environment you can imagine, but my all OTB mixes turn out tits…I can’t make heads nor tails or ITB mixes even with all the fancy VSTs…

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

“Less is more.” You don’t always need all of a channel strip w/ reverb or even any of it.

You could just set your levels and see what is needed, like a lowshelf boost in the bass, sidechain the sub to the kick, add reverb to the lead, etc. You might not even need compression at all unless you’re using live instruments or doing a lot of modulation. If you saturate everything you could lose clarity and contrast.

It’s actually easier to hear if something is too loud.

I start with my faders at zero and starting with my kick turn them up. I find it easier to strike a balance that way. However ninja is right it usually jumps out at u if something is far too loud.