How Do You Mix/master Your Tracks...

Hi all !

After a month of technical and philosophical self-questionning, I finally seem to be ready to mix my first tracks.

But now I’ve fixed the last things, a new (and fundamental) problem comes.

I wanted to use two programs : in one hand, Renoise (Windows) to compose, and in the other hand, Ardour (Linux) to mix/master.

But the point is that -in my opinion- the mixing/mastering process is an entire part of the composition, especially in dance music (for now i’m composing braindance/breakcore tracks).

So, it can seem stupid, but now, I don’t really know how I have to make these two softs working together, because in Renoise, when you export your song with the option “Save each track into a separate file”, the output file don’t seem to keep the effects of the corresponding DSP chain ; so if I export my songs in this way, in Ardour, i’ll have to re-edit all the effects on each track ; but how can I compose if I don’t work on the timbre of all my instruments/samples first ?

There are many other ways to work with these two softs, but for now I’ve not found something that matches with the way I want to work, so, I’ve created this post in order to know how do you mix and master your tracks ; which soft do you exactly use to do what ?

the ant

Not that my tracks sound great but I do everything in Renoise. I simply place my “mastering” on the master channel.

But to be honest, I don’t really try to master my songs at all. The reason for this is I am not a mastering engineer. When I get a track signed or whatever a educated and professional mastering dude will do a better job then me anyway, no matter how hard I try. My point is, why bother learning to master when someone else will do it better in the end?

I do try to have my general mixdown as proper as possible :)

I do the entire mix master in Renoise. Everything except the downsampling/dithering process which is done on one mixdown file in another program (or onto tape as I’m planning to do).

If you need any mastering work done please contact me, see my sig. :)

I’m still looking for ways to put the word “Renoise”, “Master” and “Me” together. I’ve seem to have struck a lucky break on a previous song i did, but i’ve hit rock bottom as far as mixing and mastering go. So please fire away with the tips and the tricks!

I’ve only been using Renoise for a few months now so I’m in no way an authority on the matter. I can however, take you through the process I’ve been working with.

  1. I compose my tracks in Renoise applying effects on each track, no mastering effects.
  2. I then export each track to an individual file
  3. Import into ProTools, adding simple EQ effects.
  4. My mastering at this point mainly consists of messing around with volume and simple panning.

That’s about it really.

Your mixdowns are pretty fooking ace dude!
You can hear the time and effort put in your sounddesign.

Would love to pick your brain on that matter ;)

I’d like to share some of my ideas of mixing/mastering in Renoise. For me it’s still one big searching quest but I summed up some basic points that should get you started properly:

Make sure your mix is as clean as possible.

  • Try using your spectrum on each separate channel and EQ away all the frequencies that you don’t need.
    -Use clean EQ’d layers ( for example a low kick, a higher kick, and a hihat)
  • Use quality VST’s )Native Instruments, Steinberg, Linplug and so on, and if you can’t afford them: look and you will find them all(I’m not implyeing anything illegal here ;-))
    -Use wideness but never for your bass of kick and be creative with panning.

-Always place a multiband compressor on your master channel. It will make your mix sound stronger and fuller. Most multiband compressors have very usefull presets. I’m a house producer and I’m very happy with the PSP Vintage Warmer.
-Don’t use too much compression in your separate channels, just for your kick and bassline, and perhaps a vocal compressor if you use vocals.
-Use a sidechain compressor (DB Audioware works in Renoise) to let your pad/chord/vocal/bassline duck for your kick

…please fill me in;)

At this moment I’m rendering a track, open the wav in Sony Soundforge. Then Normalize it. Finally I use the wavehammer plugin to limit it. My results are pretty ok I guess, but I’m almost sure it can be a lot better.

Izotope (the makers of the ozone mastering plugin) put out a very good guide to mastering:

I try to make each track sound fat enough and use native EQ if needed and W1 limiter (which is freeware: on master track. Sometimes if there’s not enough stereo, I just put native stereo expander on the master track and boost stereo a bit. I send kick and bassline to send channel and cut sub bass frequencies with filter3 (Hipass with butterworth) and then use W1 limiter there to make bass tight enough. Bass and treble (hihats etc.) sound more clear when you cut low frequencies and highs (over 10KHz for example) from synths etc with filter 3 (butterworth). One pretty useful thumb rule is that not to make any sound limit in the master track. For example kick and bass peak only to -3 dB. Hope this helps…

just tried putting the T-racks 3 eq(i got for free)on the masterbuss and damn its soo sweet

  1. good monitors
  2. any software
  3. whatever your ears like

I do it all with Renoise.
It’s possible, so just do it.

The more you do it, the better you get.
Trust your ears.
Use good monitors.
Go on other systems to compare your mix.

I do it on the fly while composing, because it seems natural to make each sound be at its best,
as soon as possible, this rubs off on the quality of the way the rest is made.

If i run out of CPU, i render a complete track from the whole song, and play it as a sample straight,
with the original realtime track muted, so it still there, if i should need to go back and do changes.

I am no engineer, but 12 months of mixing everyday, does improve your skills.
So in another 12 months, i will call myself engineer :)

I compose on Renoise and any track routed out to my analog mix console.
Drums and bass track are doubled one dry and one to my dbx 266XL for some compression.
Pad and synth with native EQ and Filter 3 and some compression (if needed) on vocal, guitar and acoustic percussions.
I do the final mix on my mixer that give more natural feeling and a gentle compression at whole song.
Final master record  performed by Fostex D160 that make the final A/D conversion.


In Renoise (1st PC)

  • We compose.
  • Normally have all hardware routed through AD converter over ADAT, putting them on separate line-in devices on separate channels.
  • Mix the channels of a single renoise song in mixer view, using plugins where needed.


  • We play Renoise real time over ADAT link to second PC with Sonar

In Sonar (2nd PC)

  • Analyze through mastering chain real time
  • Record a song real time into Sonar
  • Mix songs together
  • master projects and get them out in any required mp3 or wav format.

We hardly ever use Renoise rendering on a complete song, for various reasons. The real time recording makes things easier and quicker for us. Most obvious one is it saves us the trouble of having to record or freeze every channel in Renoise that uses a line-in device.

I really love it this way and its also pretty handy when Nick and I are working on a project together, as one can produce and the other can analyze and pinpoint problems really quickly on the fly :)

I discovered this as well some months ago, works great :walkman:
but I don’t like to master in Renoise…

  1. I work with the actual composition and “pre-mixing” till i feel things are complete (in 44.1 khz)
  2. when done with the actual song/production, I switch to 88.2 khz and start rendering down snippets of tracks that is too hard on the CPU, so that I in the end have about 50% available CPU for mix-based plugins.
  3. I render the whole project, and master in Wavelab.

i like this way of working. earlier I wasted a lot of time on re-rendring tracks that didn’t get right the first time. and it was a very CPU hoggy process…

but, damn, I find mastering quite hard. the “black magic” side of producing. but it’s fun when you feel you get better!