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Basics of Mixing/Editing Music
General principles we should know before diving into software & plugins?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (16 votes) 
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AndrewH
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October 8, 2023 - 1:00 am
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In the one group project I've mixed before, the main issue was balancing the volumes of different recordings. I'm no expert on mixing, but the quick and dirty thing I did to balance out different people's recording volumes was to first check the peak amplitude of each submitted recording, equalize the peak amplitudes, and then check balance and see if I felt like certain tracks needed more or less volume.

As for different recording devices: phone recordings can sound a bit strident, because phones tend to boost the mid to upper ranges compared to other recording devices, so you may want to adjust with the equalizer. When working with a phone recording, I've been told a good starting point is to boost the range below 250 and lower the range from 1k to 4k. You may need to play with the track a little to see what comes closest to restoring the live timbre; every phone app is different.

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SharonC
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October 8, 2023 - 3:48 pm
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@ELCBK I’ve not done much with mixing other than to adjust volume of parts to ensure decibel range was good (as AndrewH indicated).  I’ve played a little with other things (like reverb), but not often—I think I’ve only posted one video with that.

When I’ve recorded duets (or trios/quartets), I’ve recorded with the same conditions (i.e., same room, same equipment) and recorded the parts one after another (all the parts within an hour). 

Even when I used something like my Zoom Q8 in which I could have a couple of mics (condenser & onboard x/y) that records mixed options, I’ve just picked the one audio I liked best (e.g., the audio on the X/Y rather than condenser, etc.,) and just used it for all parts without further adjustments. 

I’ve just used the onboard mic on the stuff I’ve recorded this year on my Canon XA11 (except for group things in a big room—then I used an external mic attached to the Canon).   

I didn’t have any issues with the various files for the Group Projects—I think the slight differences in acoustics just mix together and, other than adjusting individual volumes, everything balances out. 

I have recorded stuff that switches back & forth from music playing to people talking—I know I made some adjustments there because people talking (say through a microphone) and then people playing instruments did require some mixing to make everything sound balanced.

Like Abitrusty says, just experiment.  I know I’ve found the most useful things because I’ve stumbled upon them, not because I was necessarily looking for them.  I guess my “style” of mixing is “What Happens When I Do This? Or That?” and (out of nowhere) “Well, What Do You Know About That?” smile

Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.

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ELCBK
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October 8, 2023 - 5:31 pm
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@ABitRusty , @AndrewH & @SharonC -

Thank you ALL, VERY MUCH!!! 

Appreciate you've given me a lot to think about.  I'm finally getting to where I can start putting some processes in perspective.  

...every little bit helps me.  🤗 

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Jim Dunleavy
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October 11, 2023 - 8:35 am
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@ELCBK

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party, but to give you my take on track mixing, I would always apply any necessary EQ to individual tracks first before mixing (might include normalising the level, tweaking the high frequencies down a bit if recorded on a lower quality mic - e.g. phone - and noise reduction).

Typically I would only add reverb to the whole mix at once.

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AndrewH
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October 11, 2023 - 7:59 pm
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The best virtual orchestra mixes add reverb by sections (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, and piano and harp treated separately if present) because they need different amounts of reverb to translate from a room at home to a concert hall effect. If your project is all strings, you don't really have to worry about splitting into sections.

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ABitRusty
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October 11, 2023 - 8:18 pm
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itll depend on what i like.  ill setup a reverb bus and send different amounts of each track...or none at all.  sometimes i like to hear guitar more up front less reverb...sometimes i like it more as a ambient sound in the back so it gets more.   Sometimes i like the same vibe with fiddle.   mood because im just experimenting with it all.

That last recording on fiddle i did two mics..on the right mic i maxed out reverb and on the reverb channel panned it all left.   On the left fiddle mic i did no reverb.  It was all experimenting and there was no I KNOW this works kinda thing.. I was just trying it out...  basically checked levels on the final output channel and phase and let 'er rip..  

 

.

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ELCBK
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October 11, 2023 - 9:25 pm
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@Jim Dunleavy , @AndrewH -

Thank you - all very helpful! 

Jim, you are definitely not late, since I'm still figuring things out! 😊 

I've messed myself up throwing EV tonal & special effects into the middle of all this - still trying to decide just what I want to accomplish. 🥴

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ELCBK
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October 12, 2023 - 12:48 am
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@ABitRusty -

Thanks, I'll definitely keep that in mind.

Even though I'm not going to be able to use multiple mics, I HAVE considered the importance of mic position/instrument position & dynamics (thanks to you 😁). 

Figure since my phone mic can simulate being either at the camera source or closer to the subject, there's got to be a way to simulate changing the mic position somehow in editing - but I need to see if I even notice any difference between recording with both phone settings, first. 

(*edited) Forgot I can use Kevin's phone, too - will experiment with effects from placing 2 phones, like I would 2 mics.  

 

I LOVE that you have made it to a comfortable looking spot - recording, editing audio & videos! 

🤔... I've become WAY too content playing along with YT videos & percussion loops to just 'jump in'.

Guess I need to sit down & choose ONE particular piece of music I really want to dive into, something I want to start experimenting with 'recording' - not just experiment with how I play it. 

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ABitRusty
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October 12, 2023 - 4:40 pm
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playing and learning to play most important...  all the other stuff is just icing and extremely fun...to me.. that stuff doesnt have to get in the way though.  it will slow you down while you learn THAT to...  but you continually seem interested so just do it! 😀  youll be fine.

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ELCBK
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February 4, 2024 - 2:36 am
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So, I went back over this thread, but I was still a little confused about processes when I looked at the "Just Stop" video (post #19). 

I believe the point of the video is not to be thinking about mixing until you have the 'PRODUCTION' process complete, because 'MIXING' is supposed to be the last step. 

Well, I confess I always thought there was only 2 processes - record & editing/mixing!  I just clumped everything done in DAW, with software & plugins - ALL together, part of one big process. 😬

I had to find out where 'Production' (editing?) separates from 'Mixing'!  Found some articles with at least some order to them at Reverb.com - think I'm all straightened out now. 🤗

"How To Prep Your Tracks For Mixing - Home Recording Basics"

  1. Label tracks. 
  2. Comp any weak spots. 
  3. Trim clips of dead air & noise, but keep musicality. 
  4. Quantize. 
  5. Sweeten instrument tones, correct pitch. 
  6. Export all the tracks to a new folder, to start mixing/send to a mixer, or share. 

'MIXING' is divided between 2 Reverb.com articles: 

Equalization - Home Recording Basics 

This article goes into EQ Controls, EQ Shapes, Types of EQ's, and then EQ Tips. 

Compression and Dynamics Processing - Home Recording Basics 

This article carefully defines 'Compression' and it's use to control 'Dynamics'.  It goes over Compressor Controls, Types of Compressors, How to Set One, and use Other Dynamic Processors. 

I found it very interesting that a Compressor can actually effect TONE! 

Tone: Every single compressor has it’s own unique tone that it imparts on the signal. Some compressors are great for fattening up a bass guitar, while others are better at making a snare drum jump out of the speakers. Some compressors are specialized to focus on a particular frequency range, like a de-esser or a multi-band compressor.

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ELCBK
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February 4, 2024 - 1:37 pm
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@ABitRusty -

Wanted to continue this discussion of 'automated/smart EQ' from the Our Hearing of Tone - Recording Music Thread

ABitRusty said

Thank you for making me aware that there is some automated help

i was referring to track automation.  hopefully we are on the same page.  you still have to control a fader or knob usually but you record those settings as the track plays then when the software plays back.. those settings are automatically used to adjust different variables.   its kind of like keyframes in video software.

its not a button thats pushed that tells the software something like... make this music sound less boxy.

izotope does have some software that can fo something similar..but you have to get it close to the target first. 

 

THANK YOU for clarifying this!

I had COMPLETELY forgot about the extra goodies that could be set for recording IN/USING A DAW!  ...close, but not there, yet. 

"keyframes in video software" - oh man, I have to get thinking about starting video editing! 🤯 ...nope, brain just exploded. (lol)

As far as 'one button EQ' goes, seems A.I. has been put to task at Sonible

...think this could help me learn quicker - still gives me enough to experiment with, too.

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ABitRusty
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February 4, 2024 - 7:49 pm
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pretty cool.  yeah that I could see that being helpful.   you could use it and then sorta reverse engineer the settings.  learn what it did.  maybe tweak what you dont like.  probably a good wqy to keep what youre doing between the lines so to speak until you know what it is you like and stuff.  

On podcast and different youtube channels there is a debate about a.i. and this kind of stuff.  i dont care either way.  Im way to amature to have a dog in the hunt..lol.  its only gonna become more common i think.  id say it wouldnt hurt to understand what the software is doing and how what it does affects the music and sound.  probably a good idea to learn basics of some things like eq and compressors..limiters.  which im still learning myself.  but theres just only so much i need in what im doing.  like i said in one of your topics.. most of the stuff ive made presets now and have very little deviation in settings.

@elcbk quoted..

Tone: Every single compressor has it’s own unique tone that it imparts on the signal. Some compressors are great for fattening up a bass guitar, while others are better at making a snare drum jump out of the speakers. Some compressors are specialized to focus on a particular frequency range, like a de-esser or a multi-band compressor.

not gonna claim to be a compressor expert.  ill use it sometimes for guitar/bass/ or if using a drum.. and after every track is combined in the final stage sometimes..  but i think they are referring to analog equipment...not so much DAW type compressors. 

As I understand it...The way some of the actual elctronic gear was made gave some types a different sound when used.   they used different components in the manufacturing.  some used descrete components like FET amplifiers and some used tubes.  There are famous type compressors that were used in famous hit recordings that everyone started emulating.  theres even plugins you can buy that are supposed to be able to give that sound of famous gear.  Maybe try them and compare to stock DAW plugins and hear for yourself?

I can pretty confidently say your tone is affected more from you and the instrument and even the room more than a plugin.   you CAN adjust the sound..but you have to start in a good place.  and im not claiming to be in that place by any means.  i can claim for sure...garbage in = garbage out no mqtter what you do or what type eq-ing or compressors you use.

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Sasha
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February 6, 2024 - 10:18 pm
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Mastering is the last step after mixing.

As far as EQ and compression goes, I use very little while mixing these days. If something isn’t working in a mix I will re-record or if necessary go back to productions and rewrite or rearrange. One of the big benefits of a home studio. :)

I agree with ABitRusty. You just can’t fix something in the mix. It took me longer than it should have to learn that. :) Of course what really took the time was learning how to record a good track, what sounds work, etc.

But it’s totally worth it.

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ELCBK
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February 7, 2024 - 9:29 pm
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I really appreciate everyone's thoughts on this! 😊

It makes sense to me to fix things early in the music making process.

Right now I can only pay attention to what I hear in my playing, settings on the amps & pedal effects when recording - but I'm keeping all this in mind (that you've shared) for the near future.

🤔... kinda bugs me now that I have NO IDEA what my '😈 phone 😈' is really doing with my audio when I'm recording a video. 

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ABitRusty
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February 7, 2024 - 10:19 pm
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. kinda bugs me now that I have NO IDEA what my '😈 phone 😈' is really doing with my audio when I'm recording a video. 

and... the answer?  what is it?

🙂

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Sasha
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February 8, 2024 - 11:51 pm
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ELCBK said
Right now I can only pay attention to what I hear in my playing, settings on the amps & pedal effects when recording - but I'm keeping all this in mind (that you've shared) for the near future.

  

Pro tip: Get a looper. Even a cheap Ditto, or even cheaper clone off of Amazon. Put that at the beginning of your chain, play a bit of what you want to play/record and how you want to play it. Then just have it play on the looper and work with your amp and effects to your hearts content until you have it set exactly how you want.

Then record. :D

And you are also hearing exactly what will be recorded, and no extra acoustic noise.

That right there has saved me many hours and retakes when recording guitars, bass, violin.

And as you get more in to it, you can also record a dry signal straight from the violin at the same time so if you decide you want to change it you can just re-amp it. Though I rarely do that, I'm kind of old school and like to pick and commit to my sound when recording.

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ELCBK
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February 9, 2024 - 5:56 pm
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@Sasha -

GREAT suggestions, hadn't thought of that approach! 

Appreciate it - thanks!

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