Obviously producing and mixing music are a very personal matter, but there are some rules and techniques that apply in any case.
Editing of Individual Instruments
- kick drum: standard frequencies - increase at 60 Hz - 90Hz, reduce at approx. 250 Hz, increase at 3 Khz - 5 KHz. compression ratio 4:1. Please be careful not to lose the sub bass when compressing. (This woks with a recoded drum, most of the samples are alredy sounding perfect).
- snare drum: standard frequencies - increase at 1 KHz - 8 KHz, compression ratio 4:1 please be careful because you will also increase all unwanted sounds.
- hihat: standard frequencies – increase at 5 KHz -10 KHz, use lo cut at approx. 500 Hz
- toms: similar to the kick drum, depending on the size of the toms
- overhead: similar to the hihat
- small electronic reverb can be useful, e.g. plate (without pre-delay!), be careful with the hihat. The gate reverb on the snare drum makes that famous Phil Collins snare sound.
I personally don't like to gate the drums, because the whole drum changes each time a gate opens.
Many drum samples are already edited like this, so the above isn't always necessary.
- bass: standard frequencies: increase at 60 Hz - 90Hz, and 1-3 KHz, be careful not to overlap it with the kick drum, so increase the other frequencies. Compression ratio 3:1. Please be careful not to lose the sub bass when compressing. If you like the real rock sound, try using distortion.
- guitars: standard frequencies. 200Hz overtones 2-3 KHz , compression ratio 3:1 and double the rhythm guitars!
- background vocals: Important! compression ratio 4:1, double it, increase approx. 3 KHz -8 KHz, watch out for "es" und "t" sounds
- lead vocals: important! compression ratio 4:1, minimum 8-12 dB, de-ess' especially female voices. My tip: low level delay of approx. 250-450 msec, depending on the tempo of the song, e.g. left ¼ beat delay, right 1/8 beat delay will get you a nice stereophonic vocal sound. For a good rock sound, try a little distortion, that’ll increase the overtones.
- synthesizers: sounds are often already quite good in the original version. If you increase any frequencies, be careful not to mask other instruments or sounds. (e.g. voices or bass). You can avoid this if you position your synthesizer sound to the outer sides of the stereo panorama with a stereo effect.
- loops und samples: Finding the right sound is the most important step and takes up most your time
Setting up the Mixdown
If you start to bring the individual sounds to the correct level, the following working order is commonly used and at the same time quite useful.
- first drums: kick, snare, hihat...
- then bass
- then atmosphere sound, effect sounds, guitar
- then background vocals
- and finally the lead vocal
- bring the individual instruments in balance with each other so that it sounds good at every listening level.
- Listen to your song on different hi-fi systems.
Editing the Master Channel
- bring the highest peak of the song close to 100% (-3db to -1 db).
- don't compress in the master channel. That's part of the mastering process.
- never use compression for the main signal during the mixing process.
- check out the stereo balance with a level meter and listen to it with headphones
- check out the correlation with a phase correlator, or check it by listening with your headphones. If the indicator of your phase correlator is only on the right side, your mix is mono. If the indicator is mostly left of the middle, you'll have erasures in the bass frequencies.
Last before last tip: make different versions, e.g. vocal up, vocal down, instrumental version, a-cappella version.
Last tip: compare your song with other songs of the same style at the same listening level.
Ultimately last tip: don't strain your ears too long, take breaks. On a good morning, you can work more effectively in one hour than in an entire night session.
Let's Rock !