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Guide to Mixing

Guide to Mixing

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Published by SophiaTennen

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Published by: SophiaTennen on Jun 26, 2010
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Guide to Mixing v1.0
Nick ThomasFebruary 8, 2009
 
This document is a guide to the essential ideas of audio mixing, targetedspecifically at computer-based producers. I am writing it because I haven’tbeen able to find anything similar freely available on the Internet. The Internethas an incredible wealth of information on this subject, but it is scattered acrossa disorganized body of articles and tutorials of varying quality and reliability.My aim is to consolidate all of the most important information in one place, allof it verified and fact-checked.This guide will not tell you about micing techniques or how to track vocalsor what frequency to boost to make your guitars really kick. There’s plenty of stuff written already on mixing live-band music. This guide is specifically forcomputer-based electronic musicians, and so it is tailored to their needs.On the other hand, this guide does not assume that you are making club-oriented dance music. Certainly the advice in here is applicable to mixing electrohouse or hip-hop, but it is equally applicable to mixing ambient or IDM.
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On theother hand, dance music does pose special mixing challenges, such as the tuningof percussion tracks and the achievement of loudness, and these challenges aregiven adequate time, since they are relevant to many readers.In this document, I assume only very basic prior knowledge of the concepts of mixing. You should know your way around your DAW. You should know whata mixer is, and what an effect is, and how to use them. You should probablyhave at least heard of equalization, compression, and reverb. You should havedone some mixdowns for yourself, so that you have the flavor of how the wholeprocess works. But that’s really all you need to know at this point.I do not claim to be an expert on any of this material. I have, however,had this guide peer-reviewed by a number of people, many of them more knowl-edgable about mixing than I. Therefore, I think it’s fair to say that at the veryleast it does not contain many gross inaccuracies. I thank them for their effort.If you have questions, comments, or complaints of any kind about anythingI’ve written here, please write
nhomas@gmail.com
.
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Indeed, the advice in here is applicable to, though not sufficient for, mixing even liveband music. The defining characteristic of electronic music, other than being made withelectronics, is that it has no defining characteristics. It can be anything, and so a guide tomixing electronic music has to be a guide to mixing anything.
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Contents
1 Sounds 5
1.1 Frequency Domain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51.2 Patterns of Frequency Distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81.2.1 Tones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81.2.2 The Human Voice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81.2.3 Drums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91.2.4 Cymbals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91.3 Time Domain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101.4 Loudness Perception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101.5 Digital Audio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121.5.1 Clipping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131.5.2 Sampling Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141.5.3 Dynamic Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141.5.4 Standard Sampling Resolutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151.5.5 Sampling Rate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
2 Preparation 17
2.1 Monitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172.2 Volume Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172.3 Plugins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182.4 Ears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182.5 Sound Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
3 Mixer Usage 20
3.1 Leveling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203.1.1 Input Gain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213.1.2 Headroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213.1.3 Level Riding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223.2 Eects and Routing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223.2.1 Inserts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223.2.2 Auxiliary Sends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233.2.3 Busses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233.2.4 Master Bus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243.2.5 Advanced Routing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 242

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