How to start mixing (Part 1)–Volume faders - Panning
So, you are done with your recordings and it’s time to start mixing your song. And you sit back watching all these tracks to your mixer and you don’t know where to start from right? It’s ok. It’s absolutely normal to feel stuck and having no idea what to do. You hear so many options and tips on mixing, how to start, what to do first of all, which tracks are your main roles in the mix of your song etc. and still, you do nothing because you think that if you do a wrong move ,you may destroy your whole mix. No, it isn’t like that at all.
The first thing we have to do is when it comes to start mixing is a simple move. So simple that you will hardly believe how crucial that is for the whole process. You start with a very simple but so powerful tool we have but we don’t give so much attention. The volume fader! Did I surprise you? Many of you might say “Oh come on are you kidding me?” No, this is what we have to do first. We have to move the volume faders. Mixing is all about balance. We’ve got to achieve the best balance for our mix and this balance starts with the right volume levels of each track. So the first step is to sit back, press the play button and listen. Listen what is louder than the other instruments and you have to make some decisions about the level of each track and you move the volume faders just to have the right levels and the balance you are looking for!
You have to stay focus on this procedure because the tracks are usually recorded too loud and remember that you’ve got to give more headroom in your mix ,by watching your mix buss,or master fader (output).
You don’t want to see this red indicator on your mix buss that tells you “ Hey my friend, you are clipping!” If you are clipping, it means that you are over 0db or even close to 0db and that’s a problem! You have to give more headroom to your mix so the first you have to do is grab a fader and pull it down. Don’t be afraid! Trust your instinct! The way you hear your music is unique! Try to bring balance with only these moves.
Remember what I told you in a previous post. You’ve got to have fun in your home studio! And this is supposed to be fun! Don’t be so stressed. Give time to yourself to listen over and over the song and after that you can make some decisions and grab some volume faders.As I told you earlier! The first impression , the first moves of your mix are usually right! You start with these simple moves without thinking plug ins, automation , peaks , limiting ,and other sorts of stuff.
The second tool that gives us another perspective in our mix is pan pots. Panning is a very important step because we give width and this stereo image we want for our mix. We’ve got to spread our instruments left and right so we can give more space to vocals ,which is always the main part of a mix. Listening over and over the song we decide which tracks go to left or right and how much left or right. There are no rules for that procedure. You ‘ve got to let yourself free and do whatever you want.Remember! Vocals , bass ,kick drum and bass always on the center.The rest instruments can be placed left or right. You’ve got to be creative and you’ve got to have fun at the same time. Give yourself 20-30 minutes or maybe longer for this procedure and have no limitations. The decisions you make now for your tracks’ volume will have impact to your later mixing process. You’ve got to reach to the point where you say “ Hey these tracks start coming together!” And this is the issue. You have done nothing extreme and nothing more than volume faders and pan pots. No plug ins, no compression ,nothing at all. Just your recorded tracks! And this is music my friend! This is mixing! If you start mixing right then you’ll have a great mix.
After setting right volume levels for your tracks you can move on. You can add eq, compression and you can do any tweaks you like. The second part of this blog post is about finding the sweetspot of each track. Have fun!