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Мixing Мusic

mixing

Perhaps mixing music - one the most sensitive issues related to the musical production. First, because a single recipe, how to make mix does not exist. Ultimately, the result largely depends not on the methods and algorithms, and the approach of a particular specialist, which makes this reduction. From his artistic vision result from his tastes and preferences.

At different periods of development of modern music used completely different technology mix.For example, at the dawn of stereo drums and bass breeding in different directions on a panorama seen as the norm, and still many records of those times delight the listener. Also, earlier, when resources were limited by the amount of carriers tracks on the film, the producers were forced to jibe group recorded instruments or voices in the mix intermediate and final mixing is done from these intermediate tracks. Nevertheless, the music for many of those years remains relevant, interesting and favorite.

Today, musician resources, even in a home recording studio, is virtually unlimited. For quite sane money can buy equipment, which allows you to record at a decent level.

Of course, on the one hand is a big plus, because thanks to the development of many technologies are not too rich artists can record a song or even release their own album. But if you look on the other hand - it turns out that these trends corrupt musician, render it incapable to look critically at their own creativity. After all, if you can easily add another 2-3 tracks in the arrangement, you will certainly do it. Such is the nature of the musician, we - Maximalists, it seems to us that these additional tracks allow, finally, arrangement resound ornate, modern and unique. Unfortunately, on two or three tracks rarely stop and arrangements are full of overlapping parties, with a similar range of sounds, and just trash it becomes difficult for you to hear the music.

Today I want to talk a bit about - what is a mixing music, what it needs, what it consists of and how to make. That these questions, I will try to answer. Most of what is said here, it's either my own experience or the experience of my colleagues and senior companions, which they kindly share. I want to warn in advance, the article will not be disclosed no terrible secrets, so that everyone will be able to immediately make the mixing. Simply does not exist any secrets. Everything you look at, you have to pass through the prism of their own experience, and maybe then some of the things you will be reviewed and reappraised.

As almost always, articles are produced due to the huge number of similar questions addressed to me. The question of "how to reduce the track" I hear with enviable regularity. Respond to it in a few words is impossible, and indeed difficult to give any universal recommendations on this subject. Indeed, in each case, there are many nuances - from music genre affiliation to the composition and acoustic conditions in your home studio. Nevertheless, I will try as briefly and clearly tell what actions and in what order you need to do when working on the mix, as well as what should be avoided. Much of the advice is suitable for practical information, music of all genres - whether it's rock, dance or electronic music. Exceptions probably will except classical music and traditional jazz. Well, the most important point - any knowledge will remain only the knowledge, if not to use them creatively. Experiments knowledgeable person at first glance may seem chaotic, but their results will give the listener to understand that every movement of the handle on the remote was not just. It is important to know the rules to break them properly.

What is a mixing music

So, how to reduce the track?
To begin, I want to clarify that in itself the word "track". Track - it's not a song, not the composition, it is just a technical designation stream sounds in a certain time period. But, since this word is so firmly rooted in the modern musical parlance, have to reckon with. Conventionally, we call the word "track" certain material presented toolkit or vocal tracks, united by a common musical concept and emotional color.

At the stage of elimination we are dealing with is almost complete arrangement. Of course, some parties in the process of information can be corrected, added, or be thrown, but in general most of the work with the parties behind.

Our task now is to ensure that:

  • Each instruments and vocal of arrangement was clearly audible
  • Instruments to interact with each other, together in a single space, a single musical fabric, the overall sound.
  • Artwork sounded equally well on any acoustics - household speakers, headphones, speaker, laptop, television, stadium portals, high-end home system or radio grandfather.

The next sentence - one of the most important in this article, and it is worth special attention. Ideally, good mixing is a simple alignment and balance tools to create a common spatial pattern of using pan, reverb and delay. Everything else - the only creative elements. Therefore, it is desirable that at the stage of arranging all the sounds were well matched. That between them there were no conflicts, which have to eliminate the mix.

Before the mixing is necessary:

  • Check to see whether a similar arrangement in the spectrum simultaneously sounding parties? For example: two different sequences in the same register, or rhythm guitar arpeggiator or guitar synth with lined or climbs into other instruments backing vocals, etc... If such party is, we need to take action. You can change the case of one of these parties (return to the stage arrangements), you can adjust the equalizer using the spectrum (less preferred), but you can more radically - to remove one of the conflicting parties (usually the most advantageous option).
  • If you use synthesizers, do not rush to translate their party in audio. Working with MIDI preferable because it allows you to intervene at any stage in any sound or change any note of this party. Of course, to complete the work at once with several MIDI synthesizers in one arrangement requires not only the synthesizers, but also a sufficient number of entries in your system or recording in the console, as well as a good midi interface. And if it is impossible to work with midi, have yet to translate into audio tools.
  • When throwing the tracks to audio files do not forget to turn off the processing on these instruments. First of all - the spatial. Objective reasons: First, in most reverb synthesizers weak. Second, get rid of it later in the files have already been recorded, you can not. Third, work with space implies a fundamentally different approach, which I will talk separately. Presence on each track its own spatial processing will only interfere. Of processing can be left only sound generating effects - for example, modulation, if desired lost without sound character.
  • Get rid of extra stereo tracks: In most cases, car stereo you not only do not help, but on the contrary - can make the job on the mix track. Latitude to achieve sound, you can use post-processing tools, and tools for localization initially much more correct, they sound in mono. Do not write unnecessary double guitar tracks. Not all guitars are written double-track. Do not write solo synth sounds in stereo. Do not use of stereo microphones, amps without the knowledge , do not remove the sound from several points, not sure if that will avoid opposition. To understand how important this is, pay attention to articles and mono and stereo phase problems.
  • Take the time to mount all the recorded tracks in a simple and intuitive set your audio sequencer. If separately recorded vocals on ten tracks - Remove all unnecessary, put the right one track, make sure that throughout the work it had no volume differences, and merge regions. Do this with every tool and sign them. There is nothing worse than worthless wasting time in search for a particular point of the party. Remove from the project all the extra tracks and save it under a new name. 
  • Arrange all the tools in a clear sequence. I arrange them so (top to bottom): drums, bass, vocals, guitar, synth lining, solo synth sounds, sequences and sound effects. You can come up with their own system.

Now we can say that the project is cleaned and prepared. It's time to go directly to the mix. The main tool for intelligence, in addition to your own ears, this monitoring system. If this you have everything in order, then the problems will not arise in the work.

ATTENTION! Qualitatively less than the recorded material with which you have to work with, the more quality must be monitored.

Steps to Track Mixing

  • tracks balance
  • pan
  • spectral processing EQ
  • Spatial processing and effects

Balance

To provide the correct balance must have detailed control monitors near zone with good dynamic range. Many speakers because of constructive perfection not reproduce some of the frequencies below a certain volume level. The result may be that some tools after track mixing will be louder or quieter than you expected.

When building the balance of instruments should be guided by the following principles:

  • Reset all values of pan. All the work with the balance we must try to do in mono. Stereo tracks, guitar tracks and double-backing vocals can be diluted until the edges. Put them in the center is undesirable because it will provide trouble with phase.
  • Periodically change the volume: the thrill of relations instruments should be about the same as a large volume, and the quiet sound. If you turn down the volume of any of the tools disappears, then it is not in balance.
  • If you are working with a song where the vocals, the vocals should be read and clearly, any disturbing him the tools should either be thrown or become quieter. Do not listen to the guitarist, crying that "he was pushed." Do not go on about the keyboard, turn up the volume to persuade its perfect pad.
  • In most genres and bass drum should sound the same volume level. But not always.
  • Snare drum - a very loud instrument giving CLIPS in the final mix. Even if it is an electronic genres, where the foundation of the rhythm section drum, snare drum beats usually on the second and fourth share with the barrel, increasing emphasis and increasing peak phonogram in decibels. Often after balance adjustment tool is that snare mix leads to a clip , and it is necessary to diminish either the whole mix , either the small . In the first case we have a loss in the RMS ( figure showing the average loudness of track throughout its length). Second - a failed small . Therefore, to avoid these problems , the balance of the easiest start to rebuild with the snare . To do this, its volume is set to the highest level , and all other instruments are made quieter to achieve a balanced sound.
  • If the work has lead sounds (defeats, solo, and so on), their volume must be subjectively on the same level as the vocal.
  • Use the method which can be designated "demonstration - divestment ." If a sound is played throughout the song, it is sufficient to designate the very beginning on the normal volume , and then it can lead to the background, making quieter. The human ear - adaptive , it picks up sound and remembers their character. Next, the same brain is able to perceive sound and identify even at low values of volume. To implement this method , use automation. If necessary , in certain places , you can again make this sound slightly louder. This technique you can at different points in the sound track to show different sounds alternately bringing them to the front, and then gone to the background is . Thus, the musical fabric will not constantly clogged lots of sounds and the listener will be able to evaluate each sound individually, not looking up from listening to the mix.

Pan

Once you have built a balance of tools, it's time to locate each sound horizontally. Avoid sweeping panoramas values, try to fill the width uniformly. Extreme values are better left for processing - Reverb and Chorus perfectly occupy this niche. Think in advance where you want to put any particular tool. If you have any tracks recorded in stereo, define them sound zone by specifying values for the left and right channel.

If it is a double-track guitar or synth lining, this zone may be wider, for example, L (-90), R (+90) (90 percent of the left and right in the panorama). If talking about the sound of the piano in a saturated arrangement, or other tools that require more stringent panoramic shapes, you can specify values, for example, L (-45), R (-25). Thus, both channels will sound the instrument with the left hand, and the panorama will have its specific width.

Dilute to the panorama of rhythmic elements, such as percussion. It often happens that two instruments with a similar range of play different rhythms, and in this case putting them in different directions on a panorama will solve the problem of conflict and their spectral give extra revival rhythmic texture, ie groove. The same principle can be panned two synth sound or rhythm guitar and piano.

Centre pan must be busy main instrument. Centered in most cases it sounds solo vocals , any solo instruments ( synth , guitar , saxophone and other solos ) , as well as drum and bass . Snare drum, depending on the genre can be an important tool , but may secondary. Accordingly , sometimes it may be shifted slightly to the right or left from the center. It is very important to make sure that is not skewed by the total loudness of two channels of your mix . Remember that the snare drum - is a loud instrument , and his withdrawal even ten or fifteen percent of the left will make the right channel RMS significantly smaller.

The basic rule when building a panoramic picture of your music is the following: tools, mostly sounding lowercase, located closer to the center; tools occupying uppercase, located on the flanks; tools medium frequency range - in between the center and the flanks, in accordance with their tone - the lower the closer to the center.

Ignore this rule, of course, possible. But the result may not please you. Rule was born not out of the blue, but on the basis of the physical characteristics of sound, speakers, and the nature of our hearing.

Long waves (low register) carry more energy than the short (high register), spread over large distances, easily overcome obstacles in the form of walls or fences, almost extinct in reflections.

From this it is possible to make two conclusions. First, low-frequency sounds up energy basis of the work. Secondly, locating the source of low frequency in the space is difficult. So, offset bass on a panorama give us imbalance, lack of energy in one of the columns, the overall loss the sound. But localize the sound panorama still will not work, because the rumor, as already stated, is not able to clearly identify the source in the space of the bass.

Therefore still desirable to adhere to this rule. Any filling instruments with low register (arpeggio sequence, the lower voices backing vocals, and so on) put closer to the center, filling any tools with high register (string parts, high sequence, high voices backing vocals, horns, percussion, and so high-etc.) - away from the center.

Spectral Processing

 Under spectral processing means, first of all, EQ. I recall that EQ - is almost always a destructive interference in the sound. How would you not want to believe that "intelligence can be corrected by the equalizer," is self-deception. Equalizer on intelligence - a tool to correct the blunders and like any tool it leaves traces of his intervention, which could prove far less musical than originally. 

Quality analog equalizers and filters are very expensive, and in most cases we have to deal with their software emulator made in the digital environment. Naturally, this is just a crutch and it should apply when it is impossible to do without it.

So before you cut the frequency equalizer check - there may be an opportunity to change something in the tone generator or in batches to avoid spectral interference. In this case, of course, very good, if you are working mostly in midi. You can change the preset can Dorul sound, change the filter settings in the synthesizer, you can throw a party in another octave, change the location of chords, throw out the chord one note, and so on. If the work is with the audio - all this is no longer possible to do without having to rewrite the party.

In the case of guitars or vocals - desirable place to anticipate these parties intelligence to properly set up your microphone, preamp, amp on the recording stage.

Well, if you have already been written, and no options other than EQ - to remember important rules when working with equalizers.

Basic principles of equalization

  • The smaller the equalizer - the better.
  • If possible, equalizers need to use "minus", ie cut, not add frequency. For example, if you want to overall character of the sound became higher frequency, it is necessary to smooth shelf EQ neatly cut the lower range, and then add a bit of the overall volume of the track. Subjectively, will feel that it has become more painted on tops.
  • When you operate the EQ on one of the tracks listen to the result in the context of the overall sound. That is, it does not need to turn off the remaining tracks. Useless to achieve results, only listening to the track itself. In the mix will be all completely different.
  • Working for the elimination of conflict frequency, turn the equalizer just as long until we heard that the result achieved. It is important to know when to stop.
  • Do not use extremely high Q-factor. The wider the band, the less likely to get unwanted resonances.
  • EQ does not operate more than 6.5 dB even at a loss. Operating values for normal EQ - 3.2 dB. More - in extreme cases. If the hands are drawn to twist more than 5-6 decibels - is an occasion to reflect on that sound, overwrite it.
  • Do not forget to press the button to bypass of the equalizer.
  • If using a digital equalizer within DAW - do not forget the delay compensation

Techniques for working with the equalizer on reducing

 To simplify the search for conflict resonance frequency or you can use a simple trick:

  • exhibiting a maximum Q-factor
  • exhibiting gain substantially in the plus (six or more)
  • highlight the region in which it is necessary to find a resonance and reproduce in loop mode
  • slowly move the carrier frequency (Hz) left and right, waiting for the equalizer can not begin to go into the clip (usually accompanied by wheezing and distortions)
  • find the frequency, fix it, and then lower the quality factor to the desired value, and the gain remove negative

Do not go overboard with this technique, otherwise you can get a large amount of dirt and new resonances. In one sound remove no more than one or two frequency conflict. If there are more - better rethink fundamental need this sound in the arrangement.

This technique also allows you to eliminate the effect of several standing waves , if you record a voice in the room is not very good . However, usually standing waves occur not only at its fundamental frequency , but also at multiple frequencies (eg , finding resonance at 300 Hz , you are also likely to hear it on the 600). Do not try to overcome all the resonances , we can finally kill this character recorded sound. Well, if you can not afford to leave the current version of the final version , it is better to find a way to rewrite the track in the right place.

Automation

To reduce the negative impact equalizer, do not ignore such a thing as automation. When you work with plug-ins in the digital environment in a sound engineer usually has the ability to assign these parameters change in real-time plug-ins. Assign the appropriate controllers, and activate it only in those places where it is needed. This will help to solve several problems:

  • Equalizer will only work where it is needed, and will not interfere with the sound throughout the track.
  • You do not need to have two different equalizer to eliminate the problem in two different places. Due to different settings automation parameters will change in the right places at the desired values. This will relieve the system and free up resources for other needs.
  • You will avoid possible confusion with the delay compensation. One plug-in - one delay value.

Spatial Processing

Spatial processing - this is the stage at which a ready, cleaned and balanced mix finds holistic sound. Using various instruments and programs at this stage can be divided into two areas.

First, any effect can be used as a creative element , highlight the musical fabric . One of the most famous examples of the creative use of reverb - the so -called "effect by Phil Collins ," and in a simple way - geytirovanny reverb on the snare drum . Listen, for example , one of his greatest hits , «Another Day in Paradise». With reverb snare attached to a bright tail that breaks the gate slamming . Another example - the use of art dealers - listen to the song Queen «Prophet's Song» and «Now I'm here». Repetitions on voice and guitar , primarily relate to the dramatic works , not the spatial processing .

Second, by using certain algorithms and processors can set specific localization of sounds in space mix. That is to create a feeling in the listener that a particular tool is closer or farther, and even higher or lower.

Basic methods of localization tools to reduce the use of such devices as:

  • Reverb
  • Delay line (delay-machine)
  • Chorus
  • Equalizers

Unfortunately, in one article is very difficult to cover large amounts of information. So here I will outline for the step spatial processing meets each of these algorithms. And after a while regular readers of the blog will be able to get acquainted with more detailed material devoted exclusively to this phase information.

Reverbs

 Give a sense of depth by simulating reflections. Different reverb algorithms allow to imitate or premises in which there is a record (hall - hall, room - room) or spatial processing tools, which were used long before the advent of digital processors (chamber - echo chamber, plate - leafy reverbertory, spring - spring reverbs ). Those who are at least somewhat familiar with recording, the word "reverb" is to be understood. Reverbs give volume and "tail." Kind of like an echo, but without distinct repetitions.

Delay

DeLay - a device that provides signal delay and play it through a small time interval. When working with space delay simulates sound reflections from walls and other surfaces in the form of distinct repetitions.

To reflect the spatial sound natural , repetition should be formed based on the laws of physics in the sound. That is, if we want to show that the wall is 50 meters away from us, it is necessary to set the delay time required to overcome the sound of a distance of 100 meters ( from the source to the wall, back wall ) . Because the speed of sound is approximately 330-340 meters per second , in this case, the time delay should be set to about 295-300 milliseconds. In addition, it must be remembered that when a distance treble fade faster and thus our need repetition equalization ( best to use high pass filter ).

Chorus

 Chorus as reverb, gives bulk. But, unlike reverb, chorus, does not lead to the formation of tails and can not remove the sound mix in depth, as it can make the reverb. But thanks to a mono chorus sounds acquire stereo color, better sit down in sound tissue. A stereo soundtracks receive additional softness, saturation.

In fact, the chorus - it is also a set of delay lines, only very short. Device like reproduce the original signal, shifting his time in small increments.

When using the chorus important not to overdo it. First of all, because it's still a duplicate signal, and we remember that any addition could lead to opposition. Well, in addition - too much will make the overall sound of the chorus too vintage. Although, if that's what you seek - wonderful.

Equalizers

About them and a lot has been said in this article (spectral processing stage), and in a separate article on the equalizer. However, these devices may also affect the spatial pattern, so they are also worthy of attention.

Thanks equalizers can also zoom in and out sound. Higher frequency sounds will always listen closer, and sounds with cropped top - on. In addition, the EQ even lets you influence the vertical pan instruments, ie make them up or down in space. A little more detail, I focus on how to use these equalizers in an article to be published in the near future.

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