The other day I was recording an artist who is working on her upcoming project. In our sessions I produce all of the tracks (create the beat), we write the songs together, and then we begin to record her vocals. As vocals are starting to come in, there is a lot that’s happening on my end as the recording engineer that the artist has no idea about. And even when the recording process is over and the artist is long gone, the process becomes even more magical as I take on the mixing engineer role. This process is referred to as “the mix”.
So what exactly is mixing? Mixing is the art of taking multiple parts of a song (vocals, drums, piano, guitar, etc.) and using special tools and techniques to make them all blend together to make your song sound professional. There are so many ways to approach mixing and some of it depends a lot on the creativity of the mixing engineer, but here are two key things that all mix engineers should consider, at least we hope they do, when mixing your project:
Leveling is when a mixing engineer takes all the parts of your song and adjusts the volume of each one based on how important it is. Leveling is one of the easier things to do when it comes to mixing but sadly many mix engineers do not spend enough time doing it. If you’ve ever listened to a song and thought to yourself “That snare is way too loud” or “I could barely hear her voice”, then it’s safe to say that the song was not leveled correctly. It’s amazing how much better everything can sound once you’re able to create a balance using volume. Let’s face it, all parts of a song are not created equal. There may be parts that you want to stand out more than others, like your voice. Because your voice is so important to the song, a mixing engineer is going to lower all of the other parts of the song just enough so that the vocal is heard clearly but still is in balance with the rest of the parts. The mix engineer will repeat this process for all the rest of the parts until he’s created a good balance of volume between them all. When this is done right, you are one step closer to a great overall mix.
Imagine when you go to a concert or go to see a local band play. Do you notice how each band member has their own place on the stage? The drummer is on the right, the guitarist is on the left, and the lead vocalist is right front and center. Similarly, when you are getting your song mixed, the mixing engineer is looking to recreate this placement and spacing using a technique called “Panning”. This allows for the same effect of having certain instruments “panned” to the right, or to the left, depending on how you or the mix engineer have envisioned your stage to be. You can get really creative with panning. For instance, if you wanted to pan out a drum set, you would normally leave your snare right in the middle because thats usually where it is in real life. You would probably pan your hi-hats to the left, your crash to the right, and so on. This can really add a professional and more realistic feel to your overall song during a mix.
There are so many tools out there for mix engineers to use. At Sound Famous™ we know exactly what tools and techniques to use to help bring your songs to industry standard. If you’re looking to get your project mixed and radio-ready we’d love to hear from you! Book a Free 10 minute consultation “mixer”by clicking here.