We live in the era of computer technology. Many labor-intensive processes, which used to take a lot of time and require many expensive devices, can now be performed at home. Mixing songs is no longer restricted to the elite. For example, many producers don’t even resort to rap mixing services when they work with dance music as well as with many other genres of electronic music. Instead, they do everything they need at home. The studios used to resemble spaceships with all those expensive gadgets, each of which could only do a single job. Nowadays the image of such a studio gradually passes into history. The lovers of analog devices still exist, but not everyone can afford them, so many modern studios actively use plugins instead of hardware that costs a pretty penny. But the main thing is not hardware or software, as their quality nowadays is above all praise. What matters is the knowledge and experience of the person who uses it.
Creativity before everything else!
Let me remind you that sound mixing is a creative process. There are no strict rules or regulations. Quite the opposite, any experiments are encouraged, as they can lead to an unexpected result. A good result is preferred, of course. However, experimental spirit will only get you so far. Your own experience is useful, but you can also save both time and energy by learning from other people’s mistakes. The information given below is a result of the objective experience accumulated through years and generations. It is something that can be used as a starting point for a search of the new sound.
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In times of analog supremacy, many conditions had to be fulfilled in order to transfer the material from one hip hop mixing techniques to another. First, the formats of the multitrack recorders had to match, which means they had to have the same number of tracks and the same tape width. Second, the type of noise reduction that was used during recording, as well as the exact rotational speed of the tape had to be uniform, too. And, of course, the playback heads of these two cumbersome devices had to be calibrated the same way. Modern technical capabilities open new horizons for mixing engineers. The introduction of portable digital media to the recording and mixing process gave the freedom to choose a facility for each of the working phases. In order to select a studio for recording the original material (so-called tracking), you have to know what is your task. There are rooms great for recording drums and there are places with excellent vocal microphones. Not to mention that technologies are driven by the music itself. For example, if you are making an electronic dance project, there’s no need to have an analog record player at hand. However, it’s preferred while working with the acoustic drum music. A guitarist would like to experiment with different combo amps and a keyboardist needs an analog Rhodes with a Leslie speaker, but they aren’t present in every studio.
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Choosing a studio
Let’s get straight to selecting affordable EDM mixing mastering services.
It’s important to find a place where good acoustics in the control room combine with the suitable monitoring (a set of speakers that provide a more or less fair representation of the sound).
You should have at least two types of monitoring at hand: near field and far field. Over the years, no standards for monitoring have developed, especially for far field monitors. Many people like how Quested monitors sound, others use KRK, Dynaudio or Genelec. Large studios often use custom-made monitors. But one thing is known for sure: an all-time leader among the near field monitors is still YAMAHA NS10-M with a good amplifier.
You might or might not have a couple of extra monitors, but if you are serious about mixing, you should definitely have those at hand. In addition to the monitors described above, a studio can also have small speakers, which are very close to the consumer equipment of subaverage quality. If you have headphones and you know really well how they sound, you can bring them along, but only for checking. Using headphones during the main work is strongly discouraged. It can and will cause mistakes in all portions of spectrum, not to mention that it’s simply impossible to deal with the bottom end if your ears are closed. Many people check the result of the mixing and mastering by listening to the finished record in a car. This is one of the best ways to switch between different room acoustics. If you've found the article useful you may also be interested of checking our online professional mixing affordable rates.
To be precise, the lack of acoustics in the car interior, the familiar sound of car speakers, the unwanted noises, and simply change of scene – all these factors will prevent you from making mistakes in balance while providing mixing services, especially if the problem is the amount of vocal or bass. You will be able to hear all inaudible dips and excessive peaks of every part.
A recording studio
Systems that use an isolated subwoofer should have an opportunity of using just this subwoofer for listening. It’s especially important if you work with dance music. In this case, the bass drum should be the main instrument of the bottom end and no other instrument should interfere with it, including the bass.
Apart from the acoustic characteristics, selecting the format is also important while choosing the mixing studio. Earlier this problem didn’t exist, as only mono was available, but nowadays there’s a great deal of choice. Stereo, 5.1, or something else? The preferable format depends on where the recorded material will be used. If it’s a particular TV channel that broadcasts only in mono, then you should mix in mono as well to avoid surprises on air. This is something you should warn your sound mixing engineer about. On the other hand, if the music will be widely used, then stereo will be reasonable. If we are talking about an advertisement or a movie soundtrack, then you should consult your client and ask if he needs mixing in 5.1 or any other format.
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Mixing in stereo
Let’s for now settle on mixing music in stereo. Assume that the material was brought from a random dance music mixing service and you know nothing about it. So what a mixing and mastering engineer should start with?
Before listening to the music piece for the first time, you can simply slide all faders to zero and adjust the balance as the track plays. At this point, you are getting familiar with the material – nothing more. But after the first listening, you have to shape an image of the result you would like to achieve through mixing by using all available technologies. The simplest of characteristics (like genre, tempo or melody) will give you a clue about the general sound.
A modern home music studio
The next step is decomposing the music, which means extracting typical arrangement components that exist in almost every song. It will greatly simplify the task of mixing. There are five such components: foundation, rhythm, lead, pad, and fills. Obviously, not every song contains all mentioned elements. Some of them can fulfill the others’ functions or simply be absent, and some of them can be represented by several instruments, rather than one. It depends on the style and genre of the particular music piece. This question should be discussed with your producer and the audio sengineer. When you’ve dealt with the style and arrangement foundation, you should check if there are any unnecessary parts and timbres. For help with project you're currently working on please learn our prices for online music mixing mastering.
No need to rush and permanently delete them, but it’s a good idea to mark them somehow. Fresh impression is the most reasonable, so if the engineer of mixing and mastering services online immediately feels that something interferes with the main part, it’s best to listen to the track without this particular element or part. And still, how to stay as objective as possible while removing redundancies?
Firstly, priority is always given to the lead. Ask yourself if there are any parts that distract attention from the lead and “take over” the track? The examples of such elements include overly sophisticated pads (especially with sweepers), melodious rhythm parts or beautiful but inappropriate arpeggiators. All of those can be a real pain in the neck for an engineer. Nothing should prevent the lead from getting the main dramatic line across to the listener. However, don’t confuse interfering parts with counterpoints. They aren’t simply good, they are necessary; otherwise, the arrangement will sound poorly.
A counterpoint is a music part, which is parallel to the main one, as it disagrees with the main part both in rhythmic and melodic domains. It’s even better if the counterpart and the main part have a different timbre and tessitura.
Secondly, notice the parts that rhythmically conceal each other. You will probably need to give up one of them or thin it out during mixing. The second option is more difficult, but still possible.
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What we are talking about here is a combination of small beats in different parts put close together, which prevents the listener from hearing the “groove” of each of the parts. As a result, the track delivered to mastering service becomes a mishmash of successive 16th or 32nd notes. This applies not only to drum parts or percussion, but also to rhythm guitars, keyboards and different effects. Rhythmical organization of sounds and pauses will make you feel the movement “groove”, which is necessary to receive a feedback from the listener in the form of dancing to the tune.
Thirdly, notice the elements that conceal each other in the frequency domain. They present a big problem for mixing. Such thing often happens between guitars and a digital piano, and between a piano left hand and the bass. It’s less common for pads, backing vocal, wind or bowed instruments. Harmonic instruments played in the same tessitura will inherently conceal each other. If this problem wasn’t solved during recording, then the music mixing and mastering studio will have to tackle it. Timbral transparency is a chance for listeners to enjoy the beauty of every part. Otherwise, he’ll have to trudge through a concrete wall of sounds falling on his head from the speakers.
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And the last issue is simply the mess that hasn’t been cleaned during editing which turnes mixing engineer's work to hell.
This includes inaccurate merging of doubles in instrumental parts, sounds of hands hitting the pickups on the electric guitar, noticeable breath of the vocalist, and false notes that need fixing. If the number of such faults is high, it’s a good idea to wait for the fine cut and send the material to mixing service after that. Otherwise, the process might become way too demanding and the freshness of perception, which is essential for mixing, will be completely lost.
To be honest, all these issues should have been resolved during recording by the audio engineer who performed the tracking. Not to speak of the cases, when a record producer was present, was he deaf? It’s a lot more practical to record parts if you have an idea of the final result. That way you can get closer and closer to it with every new-recorded sound. It will be great if every recorded sound gained the brightness and distinctness according to the music genre. Imagine that you’ve recorded a grand piano with a Steinway-type timbre for Latin-American music. It will be stupid to ask the engineer to make the track sound like a honky-tonk piano. Same goes for recording guitars, where a suitable degree of distortion has to be added in the beginning. If they are recorded naturally, the mixing engineer will have a hard time turning some poor sources into something that a client sees as perfect sound. If you got interested please learn for yourself our professional music mastering mixing demos.