How to Mix Your Own Music

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The technological age has progressed enough that home recording studios with varying levels of quality are appearing all over the world. Aspiring musicians can record their bands, and the hobbyist ‘weekend warrior’ musician can produce his own songs right in his living room. However, even in this age, mixing remains a key step of the music production process.

  • Get the software that you need. There are ways to do analogue mixing, but this will be explaining digital mixing. The first thing you’ll need is some multi-track software that allows you to record onto a computer. Popular programs include Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Cakewalk, and Acid Pro. Outside of those, there are still plenty of others that might suit your taste.

  • Load the raw, unedited tracks into the program. You’ll need to make sure you have all the tracks at the highest quality available to you, because there’s only so much you can fix with mixing. Make sure that hiss levels are reduced with a hiss reducing filter, which should be found on any good mixing software.

  • Raise or lower the volume of each drum track according to your taste. Decide if you want your drums panned from left to right, and apply EQ filters which should also be found within your program. Make sure that you take your time and be meticulous with the sound of your drums in order to ensure that the sound is full and punch through the mix. Make sure that you turn down extremely high or low frequencies because leaving them will give you unwanted ‘boominess’ or a piercing hiss.

  • Apply EQ filters to the guitar and bass tracks. Removing extremely high or low frequencies applies here as well. Use a compression preset, or mess around with the settings and try your own in order to give the guitars a uniform volume level. This is optional and based on your taste, however. A compressor can be found in the program, like all the other filters that this has been instructing you to use. After you’re happy with the EQ and Compression you’ve applied, you can move on to the next step.

  • Mix the vocals. This is a very important step in the outcome of your recording. You'll need to make sure the vocals are in tune with the instruments. This should have been done before you even recorded the tracks, but some mistakes are hard to avoid. For minor touch-ups on out of key spots, most programs have an auto-tune or pitch fixing program. It is suggested that you use this sparingly as it can be obvious if it's over used. Make sure you try out different compression settings, and check to see if your program has any presets specifically for vocals. This is optional as it is with the guitar and bass.

  • Get some hands on experience through trial and error. Mixing is relative according the genre of music, the particular song, and the musician’s taste. The panning of the guitar tracks from left to right, usually done with a slider within the program of choice, can have as big an effect as not mixing and applying EQ to the drums. You have to make sure to be meticulous in your mixing efforts if you want to get a quality product and different techniques can be found with enough hands-on experience.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are many things that you can learn from taking classes in sound engineering, but you also have to try it out for yourself and use trial and error.

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