If there was a way you could get a better mix in less time and with fewer plugins would you be interested?

The secret is what I call Top Down Mixing. By simply strapping a few strategic plugins across your entire mix, you can get closer to that finished sound in just a few short minutes.

This also frees up precious CPU horsepower while at the same time gives you a more holistic (read “listener’s”) view of your mix. Trust me, once you start Top Down Mixing, you’ll have a hard time going back.

Can I Do This With Stock Plugins?

Invariably I get this question, “Can I do top down mixing with my DAW’s stock plugins?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding “Yes!” The key to what I’m showing today is not WHAT plugins I’m using, but what I’m DOING with them.

Start with your DAW’s 5 or 7 band EQ on your master fader, and sculpt the sound like I did in the video. Make sure you level match the output so when you bypass the plugin, the volume doesn’t change.

Then grab a compressor and follow my recommended mix buss compression settings in the video. Remember, just a touch of compression here.

Finally, look for any saturation style plugin that comes with your DAW. This kind of plugin isn’t required, it just adds a touch of character and depth to the mix that I find pleasing. Don’t have one included? There are plenty of free ones out there in both VST and Pro Tools AAX formats.

Are You Starting On Top?

So as we begin week 3 of the One Song One Month Challenge (mixing week), I want to challenge you to start your mix on the top level, the master fader.

So let me (and the community) know below – have you mixed with Top Down Mixing before? If so, how does it compare to mixing on the individual tracks first?