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Friday, September 10, 2010


I've started to read up a bit on mixing. Back before I discovered Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), specifically "Reaper", I used to record all tracks to separate audio files then layer them up as I went along. This meant that as soon as I'd combined two sources, for example drums and rhythm guitar, that part of the mix was set in stone. For obvious reasons, I never really stood a chance of getting a good mix.

Now that I have Reaper, I can record all the tracks independently then add effects, EQ, compress etc on the fly. Even so, my first few attempts at mixing haven't been exactly stellar. From what I've been reading, I need to consider the following options, amongst others:

1) Look at individual tracks and figure out how to EQ them so as to leave "frequency holes" for the other tracks. Basically, if you have two tracks which are biassed heavily towards the same frequencies then they're going to overlap and you won't get separation between them. I was watching some vids on mixing on YouTube and it really surprised me how tinny some guitar tracks sounded in isolation, but which sounded great when in the mix. I guess selective EQ of parts of tracks is another thing to consider.

2) Don't get too precious about hearing every nuance of the rhythm section. It's all very well to record beautiful strummy stuff but sometimes it's the screaming guitars that need to take centre stage. Another tip on the rhythm side was to record the backing in two takes and to pan each take left/right accordingly, giving a fuller sound.

3) Volume. Use volume envelopes to push back sections that need to be tamed

4) Panning. Possibly the simplest way to gain separation in a stereo mix. Obviously doesn't work so well with mono!

5) Reverb. Perhaps not the most subtle of tools, but one way to make instruments sit better in the mix.

All the above are untested, with the exception of panning. I need to have a play! It might be interesting to record a track then see how different it sounds once I've tweaked it.

In other news, I've been having a bit of a direction crisis. Initially I'd thought that maybe I should stick to recording stuff I could play with a band. Currently, I don't want to be in a band with two guitarists, BUT, I actually want to lay down some melodic tracks with both lead and rhythm. For now I'm not going to limit myself, so watch this space.

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