Some of the fundamentals (to me) that i missed in my earlier days before the freedom of information granted by the internet…
I think mentioning the use of high pass filters (and low cut filters) is particularly important (in electrionic dance music - which is what most of us here do)
Low end bass frequencies take lots of energy to reproduce. Your high hats certainly dont need any bass - so slap in a high pass filter at 500hz - or even higher… do the same with other tracks according to what they need/don’t need.
You can do the same with a low pass filter on many instruments. a sub bass sample needs no high frequencies…
If its sounding to unnatural??? - perhaps a low cut or a high cut may be more appropriate than filtering.
However - i once mixed a few tracks for a friend. His grunge band sounded rather awlfull without any of the ‘grunge’. It was apparent how out of the tune they were and a muddy mix was much better on this occasion.
The right amount of dirts important to a lot of electronic music.
The old rule about ‘its better to cut than boost’ is from history although still relevant but perhaps not so much with DAWs. Analogue Eq’s added more noise or colouration to the sound (more apparent when boosting) - but many people still argue this is desirable and spend lots of money on vintage eq units.
Elvis probably didn’t like a subtle phase shift across his vocals.
‘Removing/lowering any unnecessary frequencies before doing any boosting’ is perhaps a better rule of thumb than ‘its better to cut than boost’.
Boosting rather than cutting still leaves all the ‘mud’ in the mix - but theres certainly nothing wrong with a bit of boost. Panning competing sounds away from each other maybe a better choice - but won’t help with mono compatibility.
Historically, When recording a traditional instrument with a microphone - the eq was to correct the microphone and room response - to make the recorded instrument sound 'natural - this applies to electronic instruments but is less important - after all - electronic noises aren’t natural and just need to fit together.
Its worth remembering that your perceptions of the bass, mid and treble frequencies vary greatly with listening levels - so try to monitor at a consistent level and not too loudly or your ears will tire.
The louder you listen, your perception of bass and treble increase. You’ll mix bass and treble light with far to much mids.
Nowadays - most of us are mixing whilst we are composing.
When you do your final mix - do it on a day when you haven’t been composing - so your ears aren’t tired.
The way i do it is…
- Each track in isolation - remove unwanted frequencies, further shape eq to sound natural.
- Set approximate mix levels - a rough mix - any panning, fx etc…
- listen for any tracks masking each other or creating harsh frequencies - and re-eq - in the context of the mix it becomes apparent you can further remove unwanted frequencies… panning helps with competing instruments… but remember your stereo image ought to have some sort of rythymical balance.
(or people will be dancing at one side of the club and not the other)
- Listen to reference material…
- go back to step 2… until it sounds right.
Dont put a compressor on the master buss untill your going to master/mix down
On a DAW if an individual track is just past the red/clipping - don’t worry… Don’t adjust your whole mix just because one track is peaking.
(except in extreme cases you could run out of headroom if all your tracks are clipping)
If the master volume is clipping - you need to pull back on the master fader.
Vis a Vis - if the master level is too quite, turn it up. (- rather than all the tracks is what i’m saying)
A volume knob on your monitor section helps monitor at a consistent volume - dont use your master fader for this.
Music sounds better when played loudly - so do your mixing a bit quieter. You should be able to converse with someone whilst mixing - of course crank it up some times to check at higher levels.
Sorry for any repetitions - i also recomend printing out the frequency chart.