Part 1 "Gut Mix"
There are a lot of questions on how to mix and master a song from start to finish inside home recording studios
The first, and very important step is to do what is called a “1st mix”, or “Gut mix”, or “static mix”.
This mix is getting the song to sound good and balanced to the best of your abilities WITHOUT using any plugins. No EQ, Compression, or FX.
You are only allowed to use volume faders and panning.
Your goal is to get the song sounding musical and when it feels good to you, then you’re done.
This ensures that once you move on to EQ and other processing that you are starting in the best place possible for the song.
For example. A lot of times when it feels like there is not enough Low end in a mix, people will start boosting the low end EQ on a kick or Bass when all they really needed to do was turn the volume up on the kick or bass.
Watch how I do this in this video. . It is very simple.
Part 2 Stereo Bus Processing
In part 2 of my series How To Mix And Master A Song In Your Home Recording Studio I cover stereo bus, master bus, or 2 bus processing. It can be called any one of these.
I like starting my processing(EQ, compression, Saturation etc...etc...) on the stereo bus before I process the individual tracks.
By adding processing on the stereo bus first, you can gently or drastically manipulate the overall mix with a few simple moves.
I like to add a little analog feel to the mix with some analog console emulation, compression, and tape saturation.
The plugins I use are from Slate Digital, but you can use stock plugins or any 3rd part plugin if you like.
The virtual console emulation adds the feel of working through an actual analog board and all it's circuitry. It just does something musical to the track.
The compression settings I use, slow attack, fast release, low ratio, just adds a little 'glue' to the tracks. It helps them feel like one unit as opposed to individual tracks.
The tape saturation plug in I use gives depth, warmth and a very musical feel as well. Again, I can't explain the science behind it, but I like it!
Part 3 Drum Phase
This is CRITICAL for getting the best drum mix possible.
If your drums are out of phase then you will be chasing your tail trying to get a fat snare drum for example. All the EQ and compression can’t fix an out of phase snare drum.
With the flip of one tiny little phase button you just may save your drum sounds and make the mixing process move more smoothly and faster.
The key is to check the phase of the Kick, Snare, and toms soloed with the OHs in mono.
solo the kick and OHs in mono and flip the phase of the kick back and forth. Listen for fullness and punch. A/B the sound of the phase not flipped and flipped and pick the best sound.
Then unsolo the kick and solo the snare with the OHs and repeat the process with the toms.
This gives you the best drum sounds possible before you start processing with EQ and compression.
make sure you go back and watch the previous parts over on my channel under the How To Mix And Master A Song Playlist.
Part 4 Drum Bus Processing
In video 4 of I cover Drum Bus processing. When mixing drums I like to work backwards and start with sculpting the overall sound of the kit together.
An easy way to do this is to start processing the drum bus with some EQ and Compression. Nothing crazy, but it helps get the drums sounding like a unit.
You can dramatically or subtly change your drum sounds by doing this. It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish in your mix and productions.
This series is not meant to cover all the different options and paths you can take with mixing, but more to give you a starting point that you can branch off into once you've found your mixing style.
Part 5 Mixing Kick Drum
In Part 5 we will go over mixing the kick drum.
You can use any stock EQ and compression plugin that comes with your DAW of choice.
I show you some standard kick drum mixing techniques that add clarity with EQ and a little more tightness and fullness with compression.
I don't like to add all the compression at once on the individual kick drum track. I like to add a little on the stereo bus, then the drum bus, then the kick drum, and then some parallel processing so that I gradually get the sound I want out of the drums and kick in particular.
Make sure you go watch all the previous videos up to this one, so you can see me doing this in real time and get a better understanding of how I'm sculpting the drum sound.
Part 6 Mixing Snare Drum
I cover some typical snare mixing techniques.
With a little EQ sculpting and compression I was able to make the snare more clearly heard and more of a balanced performance so that you could make out each hit.
My goal was to just tame the louder hits and make the softer hits more audible with compression.
My goal with the snare drum EQ was to just get rid of unneeded frequencies and add a little more presence to the snap of the snare drum.
Part 7 Mixing Drum Overhead Mics
Part 7 of my How To Mix And Master A Song inside your home studio covers drum overhead EQ and compression.
In this particular song I didn't need to do a lot of EQ moves on the drum mics. I just got rid of some muddy low end information with a high pass filter, and scooped out some low mids to clean it up a little.
I added a little compression to tame the loud snare hits and even out the track a little.
Those 2 subtle moves cleaned up the overall sound just a little more.
You don't always have to do drastic EQ or Compression moves just because you can. You can slap on 10 plugins on every track if you like, but sometimes the moves is to go less. If it sounds good already don't overthink it.
Part 8 Mixing Drum Room Mics
Video 8 in the How to mix and master a song inside your home studio covers mixing drum room mics.
Drum room mics can add a lot of natural sounding ambience to your drum recordings. Depending on if you want more of a dry sound or more of a live open sound, you can add more or less of the room mics.
In this song the room mics are a big part of my drum sound.
Watch along as I add a little EQ and compression to slightly enhance the drum room mics and blend them in to taste with the rest of the drum kit.
Part 9 Mixing Toms
I like to find the lower freq that adds the most tone, and the upper frequency that adds the attack and cut out the middle frequencies to get rid of boxyness.
I've found that this tom mixing technique can do wonders for your tom sounds and tones.
Add some compression for a fatter sound and you have yourself sound great sounding tom drums. That is of course if you have a great recording to start from and have checked the phase.
Watch the video to see this in action.
Part 10 Drum Parallel Compression
Using parallel compression on your drums allows you to add punch and energy without over compressing and hurting your natural sounding drum tracks.
You get the best of both worlds.
After you have gotten a really good natural sounding drum mix you can then make a separate track, route your same natural drum mix to it, and compress the crud out of it.
Usually you would not want to use this overly compressed drum sound on it's own, but blended to taste with the original drum mix it can take your drums to the next level and make them sound more professional and radio ready.
I'll show you how I typically go about setting this up in this video.
Part 11 Mixing Bass Guitar
Getting your low end of the mix to sit and act right is sometimes very tricky. In most songs you need to get the bass guitar to work together with the kick drum so that both are audible and they don't get in the way of each other.
In this video I show you some bass EQ practices that will clean up you bass tracks. I also show you some standard Compression techniques as well as some advanced multiband compression techniques.
I also show you how to set up a sidechain compressor on the bass guitar to allow the kick to come through and not fight the bass.
I show you another trick to get the bass to cut through which is setting up a "Fuzz" track. This adds some mid-high end distortion that you blend in to taste.
I ALSO show you some parallel compression techniques on the bass guitar to make sure that bass sits where you need it.