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Sound mixing: 10 essential tips

407780_yamaha_monitor_mixing_board.jpg
I just found this helpful tutorial from The Whipping Post

And here is a basic overview of the tips:
1: Use MONO Sound Sources
2: Rest your ears
3: Keep the bass and kick panned dead center
4: Use EQ to cut, not boost
5: Fix frequency masking problems
6: EQ boosting also boosts your volume — keep this in mind when setting relative levels
7: Subtle effects are most effective — contrast is key
8: Use noise gates strategically, and before reverb
9: Cut off unnecessary frequencies, especially low rumble below 30-40hz
10: Avoid mixing with headphones



20 Responses to “Sound mixing: 10 essential tips”

  1. dust4ngel says:


    note that these tips do not apply to all genres – namely, 1, 4, 7 and 8 are almost universally not applied in electronic music, which typically does not try to model sound as you would hear it in the real world. if it sounds good, it is good 🙂

  2. Dee says:


    #11. Always check your mix on headphones

  3. Eric Dahl says:


    I have to disagree with duot4ngel – this tips apply to mixing any genre of music

  4. Chrl says:


    Ding a ling thing

  5. Matt says:


    After checking it on headphones as Dee pointed out, check it on a variety of speakers (if ya got ’em) If it sounds good in a pair of $10 computer speakers, it’ll sound good on just about anything. Also don’t forget to check it in mono… that’s sometimes the only way to pick up phase issues and other problems before it gets mastered.

  6. darkat says:


    I like to go and listen to tracks on a nice car system to check them out, it is a nice common enclosure of sound.

  7. SlayerRules says:


    Thanks for the tips. What do you mean by noise gate?

  8. Cameron says:


    “A Noise Gate is an electronic device or software logic that is used to control the volume of an audio signal. They are commonly used in the recording studio and sound reinforcement. Small portable units are also used by rock musicians to control unwanted noise from their amplification systems. Band-limited noise gates are also used to eliminate background noise from audio recordings by eliminating frequency bands that contain only static.
    In its most simple form, a noise gate allows a signal to pass through only when it is above a set threshold: the gate is open. If the signal falls below the threshold no signal is allowed to pass: the gate is closed. A noise gate is used when the level of the ‘signal’ is above the level of the ‘noise’. The threshold is set above the level of the ‘noise’ and so when there is no ‘signal’ the gate is closed. A noise gate does not remove noise from the signal. When the gate is open both the signal and the noise will pass through.”

    from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise_gate

  9. Andy says:


    No.4 is rubbish. Do both where required.

  10. Pivotalrole says:


    Another tip…pick an existing commercially produced song on CD that has the general balance you have in mind for your mix and listen to it in your mixing environment. The idea is not to copy specifics but to hear how a familiar mix reacts acoustically in your mixing environment.

  11. James Hayhurst says:


    There’s a time and a place to break every one of these rules. But, for a lot of them, it’s rare. For instance, the only time when I don’t give my ears a break is when I’ve done all day mixing sessions (for live conventions). You can’t mix with headphones, but you need them to check your monitors. etc… etc…

    But the CD tip is a good idea – for live sound it’s usually better to listen to the style somewhat extensively for a couple days before whatever – it’ll be easier to find the same sound.

  12. Lars says:


    @Andy: Your opinion about #4 is probably just because you didn’t understand the point properly, and/or the fact that none of this is written in stone.

  13. Marv says:


    Lars has the right idea.

    These tips are exactly that . . . suggestions. You don’t have to follow them.

    As a professional my best recommendation is . . . your ears and commonsense are your best guides. And when faced with problems, go back to basics.

  14. howie says:


    Newbie here. I have a small Behringer mixer and panning from hard left to right produces a huge boost in volume. Any ideas what’s going on, please?

  15. Timm Tayshun says:


    @howie: That’s generally because Behringer mixers suck pretty consistently. Almost all of them have excessive noise on the rightmost channels due to an unshielded power supply and I’ve seen your problem a couple times as well. Usually because of a crappy potentiometer.

  16. MusicOfSongs says:


    Yes, the first tip is the main one!
    And use short cables!
    Cheers!

  17. Phil E. Drifter says:


    I want to leave a comment no one will read too!

  18. Fenrisfil says:


    Three more tips: 1) Avoid using any Behringer gear. 2) Test the mix on a mobile phone (speaker not headphones). I hate it when people listen to music on a phone but it is so shockingly widespread these days it’s worth knowing what it sounds like. 3)It’s handy to test at different listening volumes as some frequencies act differently.

  19. Sound Mixing: 10 essential tips | The Beat-Play Experiment says:


    […] Continue to Other Six […]

  20. osaroei precious says:


    i want to know how to set mixer very well i will need your
    help i do set in my church but i want to improve i want you plp tp help me if i can hava a tast book hand out.


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