How to mix a song: Proper gain staging (Video)

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How to mix a song
When learning how to mix a song, using proper gain staging is key to setting yourself up for success.
In a perfect world, the engineer in charge of setting the recording levels will have already taken care of this for you, BUT as you all know this world isn't perfect and you have to clean up some messes sometimes.
If you were recording your own music and accidentally set your preamps too hot, or you are mixing a clients song and all the tracks are too hot, Don't worry, we can do some simple cleaning up to combat this problem.
In proools we have a plugin called "trim" that we can turn down the audio wave form BEFORE it hits the fader. I like to keep my audio signal around -16 to -18 dbfs (db full scale).  I don't want to be ANYWHERE close to 0dbfs and clip. I'm sure most DAWs have a similar plugin.
how to mix a song

(trim plugin in protools)

Clipping is BAAAAD in the digital world. It's not your friend. It steals your cookies when you're not looking, hits on your girlfriend, and never puts the toilet paper roll on in the right direction. I hope we can all agree that the toilet paper should flow over the top and down. Right!!!!?
Anyways, I see this ignored all the time when people first start learning how to mix a song. Gain staging, not the toilet paper thing.
It not only leaves headroom in your mix for a more clear better sounding mix, but it also sets up your plugins to perform to the best of their abilities.
I was guilty in the beginning I'll admit, but now I make sure the proper gain staging is set when I first pull up every song I mix.
If I'm the recording engineer then I make sure I don't set my pre amps too loud, which in return sets my mixing stage up quite nicely.
Check out the video below to see this all in action. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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Here is a great article about gain structure specifically for DJs and making sure their live performance is set up correctly.  Check this article out from Home DJ Studio. 

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  1. Pingback: Use Parametric EQ settings (like a boss!) - The Recording Solution

  2. Pingback: The #1 Winner Of All Mixing Tips - Understand EQ

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