How To Mix a Song From Scratch
1. The Static Mix
How do you take the raw tracks you’ve recorded for your song and turn them into a powerful and punchy mix with clarity and depth?
That’s what I’m about to show you as today I’m starting a brand new mini series on how to mix your song from the ground up.
Mixing is the step where you begin taking things like EQ, compression, reverb, and delay to start sculpting your song even more and presenting it in the best light possible.
But instead of randomly grabbing plugins and turning virtual knobs, only hoping to get a good mix, I want to show you a step by step plan to enhance your recordings.
On top of that, during this series I will be using a free DAW called Pro Tools First and only the free included stock plugins. Just to prove that you don’t need anything more than that to get a mix done!
And it all begins with the most important step – the static mix!
2. Mix Buss Processing
When mixing your song, before you put a single plugin or effect on your individual tracks – start by inserting a few on your mix buss or master fader.
The reason is simple: you’ll get a better mix in less time, less effort, and with fewer plugins (which saves computer power).
In today’s video we’re going to enhance our balanced mix with some simple EQ and compression on the master fader. The difference is both subtle and powerful at the same time.
The most powerful tool you have when mixing in your home studio is an EQ plugin.
No other plugin will have as much of an impact on your mix than your EQ decisions. Period.
Today as we dive deeper into mixing our song (using a free DAW and stock plugins mind you) I want to show you the best way to think about and use EQ.
When done right, EQ can give your mix clarity, width, and definition – all in a musical and natural way.
Why do songs on the radio have so much punch, power, and energy when a lot of home studio mixes sound flat?
The answer is well executed compression. It can be the difference maker between a mix that is lifeless and one that jumps out of the speakers.
And the good news is, you don’t need a fancy compressor plugin or an expensive DAW to pull this off. As I’ve been doing this entire series, I’m mixing my song in a FREE piece of software (Pro Tools First) and using the included stock compressor plugin.
So today I want to show you how to use a compressor when mixing in your software – whether on a vocal or a synth, compression can give you that upfront sound you’re looking for!
5. Reverb & Delay
A huge part of what makes a great recording and mix is the sound of the room you recorded in. Unfortunately for most of us bedroom producers, our spaces don’t sound so good.
This is why we tend to record things pretty dry, so they at least sound clean. But that usually leaves our recordings sounding, well, rather small and clean.
The good news is, with a little tasteful room reverb and some strategic delays we can spice up our solid mix and give it that studio polish our music deserves!
Your mix isn’t finished until it’s been sweetened.
What does that mean? It means it’s time to take your solid mix and turn it into an engaging journey from start to finish.
We do this with strategic automation, arranging, and other tasty mix tricks to make every moment of the song exciting for the listener.
If most of mixing is getting your tracks to sound good in a snapshot of the song, this final step is about getting your tracks to sound good over the entire length of the song. Oh, and stay to the end of the video to catch a “before” and “after” mix example!