The perfect mix (Tutorial on mixing for beginners)
Well many users asks questions on how to make the perfect mix when creating a track, this can be very difficult and vary from person to person.
I am not saying that this is the right way to do it, but it is a starting point, you may find other way to do this and that is just as right as this, but for beginners this is a great starting point.
Now with your featured DAW open, look at the mixer window. Solo each instrument in your track to get the best listening to each individual track. As a starting point set the trim so the signal peaks a -3db
Lets start with the basics:
Kick drum: -3 db. I wouldn’t apply any kind of FX, you usually doesn’t on a kick-drum. Don’t ever pan the main kick drum, we want it to be applied to the center. (I would really suggest to EQ the kick so it doesn’t inflict with the bass, if they sit on top of each other)
Snare: -3-4 db Might be EQ’ing a tad to remove some of the high frequencies if it gets too high on the high frequencies. FX might be added here such as a reverb or a slight delay. Just don’t make it interfere with the vocals if used. Pan is allowed here, adding a little pan at about 2-4 left or right
Lead Vocal: Is the important source when working on a vocal track. You want the listener to feel the vocal and listen to the words and the lyrics. So always keep the vocal the same as the kick drum. Around -4 dB. You might want to add a low cut filter to prevent rumbling and other noises. I WILL NOT recommend using a gate, because it might get rid of noise, but maybe also some of the low words and letters and might destroy the vocal. To add some air in the track carefully raise the high end at around 15-20 khz, but use with care do not go crazy with it. A good idea is to add reverb and delays to make it fit into the track and create some space around it.
When looking at the pan-section, always keep the lead-vocal center. Put on your headphones and make sure the vocal(s) are center. Right at your forehead. (Mostly I EQ the vocals, so again, it doesn’t inflict with the kick and bass)
Leads: Is also an rather important element in an electronic tracks such as trance and house. Lead is a very big subject and is often hard to define. I usually keep it around -5 to -10 dB and pan them left/right around 10 to 15 Left/Right to make it appear as a big and leading element in the track. Every FX can be used here to suit your needs of a lead.
Bass: -7 to -10 db Always keep this in the front and in the center, just like the main kick-drum. If you use absolutely want to add some FX, maybe use a light flanger, but do not use reverb on basses it tends to make it muddy and not very pleasant to listen to. And keep the sub bass “mono”
Synth pads: -15 to -20 db Pads are one of the most beautiful things in the track, but do not overdo this, keep them in the back so it doesn’t ruin the other elements of the track. Pan them hard (around 20-30 left/right). I usually add reverb to make it more dreamy and to create that atmosphere, which makes you want to stay in the track.
Cymbals: -18 to -25 db This is to prevent the hats to interfere with the vocals, if the high frequencies tend to interfere, make a gentle turn-down. Pan each one to around 6-8 left/right. Cymbals doesn’t have to be present in a track, just to make the track fit together. FX can be applied as you wish
Percussion: -15 to -20db. Percussion will be panned, and make it equally so when panning one percussion element to the right, also pan another percussion element to the left to give it that balance and to make it pleasant for the listeners ears. FX might be applied for your needs, thats just a way of taste and balancing. Also use the EQ if needed, to make some space.
When making music, mixing is essential to get a great track, mixing is there to make space in the track, fill out the track and to make elements have their own place to sit on.
As stated above, this is just a general guide and the way I do it and find appropriate. You may add effects in things i have said that is not a good idea, and it is not wrong but in most cases this is the general starting point for a newcoming producer. So don’t get offended if i have said something that interferes with your workflow.
Also, I learned this many years back, and read the article on http://tweakheadz.com/perfect_mix.html, which helped me a lot. I took the “template” and adjusted to the needs I think works best for my desired genre (mainly in the house genre)
Again, I hope you found this useful, and if you would like any tutorials, feel free to request.!
February 20th, 2013