The song itself actually is not the most important thing. What’s really important is the way it changes under certain conditions. We’ll show the condensed version of the whole process and give some explanations, still making it quite simple.
So, the most important thing in mixing is organizing a session. In general, it was a lot easier years ago than it is now. Why? Because all that technology is evolving all the time becoming more and more complex.
Back in the day we had to copy the maximum of 48 tracks at a time to a tape machine, make a comp master and get them done. That was the limit. But now all of you can run all the way up to 200 tracks.
The 1st secret
If you want to organize the process, first of all, try to come up with colors that work for you.
For example, the drums can be red, bass is purple, keyboards and guitars are green, while the vocals are always blue. (The lead vocal can be dark blue and the backgrounds lighter blue.) Actually, you can use any color you want. Once you start using the same color all the time, you’ll look at any session and automatically catch guitars, or vocals, or anything else you need. It makes everything much easier.
Everybody wants to mix a song, not just sit there trying to navigate it.
You also can add some cues in session. They shouldn’t look like a whole sentence, though. Just simple letters, such as ‘r1’, which stands for ‘re-intro.’ Try not to use the same letter a lot of times. Make the queue simple and the navigation easy. Don’t make it a complicated route.
The 2nd secret:
Always compress after EQ, if you want the EQ to feed into the compressor. It makes a combination sound.
All tools are like seasoning and you’re like a restaurant chef. Just choose whatever you like. You can add a little bit of ‘salt,’ or a little bit of ‘pepper’ to make the mix sound better.
The 3rd secret:
There is no perfect way to set gain before starting to process tracks.
You can use the game plugin and look at things and try to get them to a reasonable level. The best you can do is going out to an analog situation, which is the easiest way for you to judge.
Organizing is the most important part of mixing, because once you can organize it — you can manage it, and if you can’t control it, you won’t be able to mix it. This becomes your mission as an engineer, as a producer as a mixer.
The important thing is set yourself up for success. Set your session up for success, make it as small as possible without making a compromise. Then once that’s done, and you put plugins on things, get your gain structure in order, then you can use your mind and what you hear, as well as vision to take it to a place that wouldn’t be normally available to other people. Why? Because you’ve organized a session, you’ve got to be a great balance with gain structure.