This blog is a collection of posts that I have accumulated into one place which have assisted me in understanding how to go about writing music predominantly for Deep and Tech House.
I could have bookmarked the various sites but then I have loads of bookmarks and can't find what I want when I need it.
Hope the nuggets are useful to you if you happen to stop by.
Monday, May 27, 2013
How to Mix Electronic Music
How to Mix Electronic Music
Written by Chris Anzalone
Mixing electronic music requires an ear for musical balance above all else. You must have the ability to discern when a bass track sounds muddy or when your left and right channels lack balance, all of which comes with practice. Beyond that, however, you can benefit from certain general rules and conventions common in all aspects of electronic music mixing, from synth pop to house music and everything in between.
Set all of your faders to 0db. If using a digital program like Pro Tools or Logic, these will appear as vertical volume dials. When you set them all to 0, you can play back your composition and immediately notice which tracks dominate the mix and which need additional volume.
Keep your kick drum track at 0db and use that as your guide for adjusting all other tracks. The electronic music website TweakHeadz Lab recommends this technique because it gives you a standard by which you can adjust all other tracks without creating "clipping"--an unpleasant distortion sound--in your main mix from excess volume. Do not use heavy effects on your kick drum, and stick with a very low frequency setting for electronic music.
Set your snare drum at a slightly lower volume than your kick drum, approximately -2db. Snare drums have a much higher frequency and therefore require less volume. Also consider panning your snare drum 30 to 50 per cent to the left or right channel in order to keep your percussion from sounding overly-centralised. Additional percussion tracks should be set at a much lower volume to avoid crowding the mix. Try -20db and raise the volume gradually if you cannot hear the percussion notes.
Set your synth pads at a very low volume. TweakHeadz recommends going as low as -20db. Your synth pads are similar to your leads, but almost always polyphonic and often played as chords, with low attack settings that typically have a soft, harmonic sound. Therefore, they work best as background harmony and should not dominate the mix. For a surrounding effect, consider splitting your synth pads into dual tracks and panning them one each to the left and right with a pre-delay on one of the two tracks.
Set your bass at approximately -10db and adjust accordingly if the bass sounds too dominant or too transparent. Always leave your bass track in the centre of the mix.
Set your lead vocal track (if applicable) to 0db and go easy on the effects unless you seek to generate a specific robotic or ambient sound. In most cases, you will only need a touch of reverb to help your voice blend smoothly into the mix. Adjust the dry and wet mix of your reverb by no more than 10 per cent and find the smoothest setting for your particular song. The amount of reverb needed will depend on the number of tracks and the type of song, but keep it low. Too much will ruin your vocal track and cause it to fade into the background.
Apply EQ sparingly on necessary tracks. On tracks needing additional bass, reduce the treble rather than adding additional bass. On tracks with too much low end, lower the bass rather than raising the treble or midtones. By diminishing the unwanted characteristics rather than boosting desired characteristics, you dramatically reduce the risk of negatively impacting your overall mix.
Apply compression where needed. Compression will help you to lower the intensity of dominating tracks and raise the presence of tracks that continuously fade into the background. Select tracks that need compression and adjust the gain slightly, by 1 or 2 decibels. Then play back the track and adjust again until the track reaches a desired level.