Once all of the elements of a track are complete and before it goes out into the world, mixing is a critical step. Getting every layer to work together across the frequency spectrum takes subtlety and finesse. While many tracks find themselves in the hands of a professional mixing engineer, a number of producers go on to mix their own work. For those of you who take this path, we teamed up with longtime Output collaborator, mixing and mastering engineer Mario Borgotta, to explore mixing from an industry professional’s perspective. He shares his top five techniques for improving a mix in this Mixing for Producers video series, using the track “OVER IT!” by koby ft. Axel Mansoor.
1. The Mix Bus
The mix bus is a way to group and process your tracks—in this case your whole mix. Making a big picture adjustment to the entire song before you even start mixing immediately elevates your rough mix. You can ballpark a vibe and give it the glue it needs to start sounding like a finished project.
2. The Drum Bus
The range and variety of sounds in a drum/percussion kit are the widest of any instrument. Using a drum bus, you can glue these elements together so that they sound as one, while adding excitement and drive to the track.
3. Low End Cleanup
Low end cleanup is one of the most important, yet most overlooked techniques for improving a mix. Creating space for your low end instruments starts with all of the OTHER elements—taking care to remove the unneeded lower frequencies that are clouding the mix.
4. Multiband Compression
A multiband compressor allows you to compress frequencies like the lows, mids and highs individually. Multiband compression is a great tool for taming fluctuations within specific frequency ranges, and it offers more control than simply removing or boosting frequencies with an equalizer.
5. The Lead Vocal
The vocal is the centerpiece of your track, and there are a few techniques you can use to take a dry lead and make it pop. From compression, to saturation, to adding effects—this video takes you through a variety of steps to get a modern lead vocal sound. For Output plugin fans, watch how Thermal is used to add some bite, and how Portal adds interest to the reverb tail.
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