Archive for the Mixing Category

Simple Audio Mixing Tips Part 3

Posted in Mixing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by Chris Bracco

This is the 3rd and final installment of “Simple Audio Mixing Tips!” Here are 5 more intriguing tips to try out while mixing your audio! Check ’em out:

1) Turn up the monitors pretty loud, then leave the room and shut the door and listen to the mix from outside of the room. Doing this can sometimes reveal weird things in the mix that you may not have heard from directly in front of the speakers. It can also help with making sure the track levels are well balanced. I know this may not make much sense but try it out! It really does work, some professionals use this trick and swear by it!

2) A good rule is to stay away from the last 4 to 5 dB of a plug-in’s red zone. This is important to absolutely make sure your tracks are not clipping. Clipping is bad. Very bad. Don’t let it happen or the monsters in your closet will eat you.

3) If you are recording a singer/rapper on a LDC mic and you’re getting too much sibilance and popping even when using a pop screen, try adjusting the mic (hanging inverted) so that the capsule is lined up with the bridge of the singer’s nose. This tip gets the singer/rapper to sing upwards, opening their windpipe. This helps dampen those evil Ess’s and Shh’s that us engineers hate so much. Have the vocalist step forward or backward from the mic (depending on the sound you desire), and voila. Essless vox.

4) Vocal Compression Tip: Start conservatively by going to the hottest (loudest) part of the track and setting the compression plug-in parameters so you’re not getting more than 3 dB of gain reduction. Begin by adjusting the ratio at 2:1 or 3:1, then try using an automatic attack and release if available, or if you’re hearing the compressor grab and/or release too soon, aka “pumping,” go manual and set your attack to about 40 ms and your release to 300 to 400 ms to keep the compressor smooth on the attack and release. Lower your threshold until you achieve the desired gain reduction. Compression made simple.

5) Beginner Vocal EQ Tip: I like to start by setting up a 6-band EQ on my track (I like Waves REQ, but thats just me). You can add openness, presence and intelligibility by creating a high shelf anywhere from 5- up to 12 kHz. If more presence is needed, try adding a peak EQ in the 3 to 6kHz range, or taking away 1 kHz or adding a little bit of 2 kHz (the main frequency range where the voice resides). Boosting a bit of 200 to 350 Hz will add warmth and fullness, but too much will make your track muddy. These techniques differ from singer to singer and depend on gender. Once you are confident, train your ear by first listening to the vocal solo’ed while you add EQ and then listen to it within the mix.

And that concludes this 3 part series of “Simple Audio Mixing Tips!” Keep an eye out for some more monthly tips and tricks in other aspects of the recording process!

One love,


Simple Audio Mixing Tips Part 2

Posted in Mixing on February 18, 2009 by Chris Bracco

Hey all,

this is my second installment of “Simple Audio Mixing Tips,” I’m back to share 5 more interesting tips to try out while mixing your audio! Ok, lets just get right to it:

1) Mute vocal tracks when there is a break of more than a second or two, to kill the noise. In my experience, vocal tracks tend to be the noisiest and contain the most artifacts out of any other instrument. I think it is because much more sensitive microphones (LDC’s, in particular) are being used, and really just pick up everything happening inside & immediately outside a room (damn you airplanes!!). Well, to cut back on some of the noise in your mixes, try this simple technique to eliminate unwanted breaths, licking of lips, or any other interesting noises that really don’t belong in your audio.

2) For drums especially, import a known good track into the session, and see how yours sounds compared to the reference. Mix to get yours sounding more like the reference. This is an extremely helpful technique. You should always A/B a reference mix that has certain qualities you may want to emulate. It is much easier to hear it than to think you know what it sounds like already, because you are most likely wrong. Use this technique for any instrument, and for entire mixes, its really helpful!!

3) Cool Vocal Sweetener: Duplicate your vocal track 2 times (so now you have three). Take one of the duplicates, detune it (downward) by12 cents, delay it by 25 ms, and pan it hard left. Take the other duplicate, detune it (upward) by 12 cents, also delay it 25 ms (you’re delaying both of these 25 ms behind the main vox—they’re in sync with each other) and pan this second dupe hard right. Now bring the faders all the way down on these new “mangled” tracks. While your listening to the original vox (which is still in the center), bring these 2 new ones up gradually. Too low—there’s no difference. Too high—it just sounds wrong. Just right—the voice is nice and thick with a cool edge to it. If you’re doing reverb on the vox, you can also just add it to the two new tracks—so you get some depth, but your main vocal in the middle stays big and present. I have yet to try this one, so please let me know how it sounds if you ever play around with it!!!!

4) Octave track: same thing as whisper track but the 2nd track is an octave above or below the original—tough to do, but if they’ve got the range, it can be cool. I have tried this with mixed results — in the end i usually just omit the octave track because it sounds odd to me, but if you have success with it let me know!!

5) Always mix in mono, until you think the mix is ready and done and sounding good. THEN start panning. I don’t mix this way, but i thought it was an interesting approach to go about mixing because the assumption is if you can get it to sound great & balanced in mono, panning will be a cinch! But personally, i believe panning is a great way to get the mix sounding balanced & less cluttered, so I usually bring up the faders to desirable levels, then pan, THEN start EQing & other effects. But anyway, try this way out maybe you’ll like it better than what you’re already doing!

Hope these are interesting/helpful — I thought they were, for what that’s worth 🙂


The Quick Mix

Posted in Mixing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2007 by Chris Bracco

I thought this would be an excellent article to kick off the blog.

Creating a “quick mix” is a very helpful thing to do before even thinking about the final mix. Nice balance between the instruments and the vocals, and some EQ, compression and reverb if necessary. This is a great way to come up with something to show your client as a preview. Also, if you’ve already starting working on the final mix, but something just isn’t right, this method serves as an excellent start-over approach.

quotemark.gifIt wasn’t what I’d call a finished mix, but it was decent and provided me with a model to listen to as I got familiar with the sound of the tracks. It’s a valuable to skill to have, especially when you don’t have time for diving into a complete mix—those times when you want something to hear in the car or a demo to give to a client for review, etc.