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Mixing Music

Book Description

Idiot's Guides: Mixing Music breaks down all the complex jargon for beginners and discussing a blend of skillful principles and techniques that anyone can utilize when mixing. It covers all the fundamentals from the various mixing styles, the element of a mix and how to build one, the rules of arrangement, the secrets of equalization and frequencies. This guide is packed full of expert advice and be platform neutral for any home mixer. Also includes:

+ In-depth review of budget-friendly music equipment and purchasing.
+ Chock full of tips, tricks, and techniques on perfecting mixes.
+ Easy-to-comprehend breakdown of terms and techniques that any mixer can master.
+ The fundamentals of music mixing, breaking the process down so readers understand the basics.
+ The building blocks of mixing: reverb, blend, size, tone, sustaining sound, delay types and how to calculate them, balancing, and sonic layering.
+ Reviews of the various mixing styles, rules for arrangement, and all the tips and tricks for adding effects and creating that perfect sound.
+ An exploration of the current mixing techniques and principles.
+ In-depth discussion on the essential home recording budget-conscious mixer needs, what equipment to purchase and what to avoid, and whether or not to use freeware.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Contents
  5. Introduction
  6. Part 1: Introduction to Recording and Mixing
    1. 1 Understanding the Recording Process
      1. How Recording Has Changed Over the Years
        1. Early Recording: It’s All Mechanical
        2. The Second Wave: Recording Goes Electric
        3. The Magnetic Era: Get It on Tape
        4. Recording Today: It’s All Digital
      2. The Three Parts of the Process
        1. Recording
        2. Mixing
        3. Mastering
    2. 2 Understanding the Mixing Process
      1. What Mixing Is—and Why It’s Important
        1. What’s Involved in the Mixing Process
        2. Why Mixing Matters
      2. Mixing Live and in the Studio
        1. Live Mixing
        2. Studio Mixing
      3. Understanding the Role of the Mixing Engineer
        1. What a Mixing Engineer Does
        2. What You Need to Become a Successful Mixing Engineer
  7. Part 2: Building Your Mixing Studio
    1. 3 Setting Up Your Mixing Space
      1. Choosing the Right Mixing Space
        1. Size
        2. Ambient Noise
        3. Acoustics
      2. Furnishing Your Studio
        1. Computer System
        2. DAW Software
        3. Monitor Speakers
        4. Audio Interface
        5. Mixing Console
        6. Outboard Processing and Effects Boxes
        7. Mixing Desk/Workstation
        8. Furniture
      3. Setting Up Your Mixing Studio
        1. Dealing with Room Acoustics
        2. Setting Up Your Mixing Desk
        3. Positioning Your Monitors
      4. Dealing with Common Issues
        1. Uneven or Boomy Bass
        2. Room Is Too Bright or Has Too Much Reverb
        3. Not Enough High Frequencies
        4. Electrical Hum
    2. 4 Choosing the Right Mixing Hardware
      1. Choosing a Computer System
        1. Windows or Mac?
        2. Desktop or Laptop?
        3. How Much Power Do You Need?
        4. How Many Screens?
        5. Mouse or Trackball?
      2. Choosing an Audio Interface
      3. Adding a Mixing Console/Control Surface
      4. Using Other Outboard Equipment
    3. 5 Choosing the Right Mixing Software
      1. Understanding DAW and Mixing Software
      2. Comparing Popular DAW Programs
        1. Ableton Live
        2. ACID Pro
        3. Bitwig Studio
        4. Cubase
        5. Digital Performer
        6. Logic Pro X
        7. Nuendo
        8. Pro Tools
        9. REAPER
        10. Reason
        11. SONAR
        12. Studio One
      3. Which Software Should You Use?
    4. 6 Choosing the Right Monitor Speakers
      1. Understanding Studio Monitors
      2. How Many Speakers Do You Need?
        1. Mono Versus Stereo
        2. Subwoofers
        3. Surround-Sound Monitoring
        4. Other Speakers for Other Listeners
      3. What to Look for in Monitor Speakers
        1. Active Versus Passive
        2. Number of Drivers
        3. Power
        4. Ported Versus Closed Cabinet
        5. Size
        6. EQ Adjustment
      4. Selecting the Best Monitors for Your Budget
        1. Budget Monitors
        2. Mid-Price Monitors
        3. Pro-Quality Monitors
      5. What About Headphones?
        1. Headphones Versus Monitors: Pros and Cons
        2. Evaluating Headphone Types
  8. Part 3: Before You Mix
    1. 7 Recording for Mixing
      1. Recording Versus Mixing: Why Each Is Important
      2. Understanding Recording Basics
        1. Recording a Large Ensemble Live
        2. Recording a Multitracked Performance
        3. Recording a Solo Artist
      3. Before You Record: Think About the Mix
        1. Think Through the Project Beforehand
        2. Counting the Tracks
        3. Recording with or Without EQ and Effects
        4. Setting Input Levels
        5. Using a Click Track
      4. Selecting the Right Audio Quality
        1. Sample Rate
        2. Bit Depth
        3. File Format
        4. 8 Prepping the Mix
      5. Before You Begin: Making a Backup
      6. Organizing Your Project
        1. Arranging Your Tracks
        2. Labeling and Color Coding Your Tracks
        3. Creating Track Groups
        4. Removing Empty Tracks
        5. Deactivating Unused Tracks
        6. Adding Selection Markers
      7. Cleaning Up Your Tracks
        1. Removing Noise
        2. Adding Fades
        3. Editing Your Tracks
        4. Correcting Pitch and Timing
      8. Transferring Files to Another DAW for Mixing
        1. Exporting Audio Tracks
        2. Exporting MIDI Tracks
    2. 9 Creating the Arrangement
      1. How Mixing Affects the Arrangement
      2. Deciding What Stays—and What Goes
        1. Weeding Out Unnecessary Tracks
        2. Choosing the Best of Several Options
        3. Piecing Together a Single Track from Multiple Passes
      3. Arranging the Song
        1. Arranging Vertically
        2. Arranging Horizontally
      4. Making It All Fit Together
        1. Setting Preliminary Levels
        2. Dealing with Aural Conflicts
      5. Working with Artists and Producers
  9. Part 4: Creating the Mix
    1. 10 Mixing Your Project
      1. Understanding the Mechanics of the Mixing Process
      2. Getting to Know the Mixer Window
      3. Making a Basic Mix
        1. Mixing 101: Step by Step
        2. Organize and Edit the Individual Tracks
        3. Arrange the Tracks and Sections of the Song
        4. Set the Initial Levels
        5. Set the Stereo Pan
        6. Fine-Tune the Arrangement
        7. Add Equalization
        8. Add Processing and Effects
        9. Set the Final Levels
      4. Secrets of Successful Mixing
        1. Focus on the Vocals
        2. Simpler Is Better
        3. Don’t Fall in Love with a Track
        4. Get Centered
        5. Perfect Is the Enemy of Good
        6. Listen Like the Audience
        7. Take a Break
    2. 11 Setting Levels
      1. Setting Monitor Levels
      2. Setting the Initial Gain
        1. Understanding Gain Staging
        2. Setting the Gain
      3. Determining Mixing Order
        1. Vocals, Rhythm, and Backing
        2. Top to Bottom
        3. Bottom to Top
      4. Setting Individual Track Levels
        1. Work Clean
        2. Use the Faders, Not the Gain
        3. Different Tracks, Different Levels
        4. Bring Them Up, Gradually
        5. One Track at a Time (with Exceptions)
        6. Vary the Levels Throughout
        7. Make Important Tracks Louder
        8. No Track Is Sacred
        9. Keep the Levels Down
        10. Take Them Down, Not Up
        11. Stay in the Overall Range
        12. Mix, Mix, and Mix Again
      5. Avoiding Common Balance Mistakes
        1. Noise in the Mix
        2. Inconsistent Levels
        3. No Point of Interest
        4. The Song Doesn’t Go Anywhere
        5. It Sounds Flat
        6. Not Focusing on the Mix as a Whole
    3. 12 Utilizing Separation in the Soundfield
      1. Understanding Stereo Placement
      2. Working the Panning Controls
      3. Best Practices for Stereo Panning
        1. Plan Your Panning in Advance
        2. Pan First, Then EQ—or Vice Versa
        3. Start with Mono
        4. Choose Your Perspective
        5. Pan Like It Was Recorded
        6. Not Everything Needs to Be Panned
        7. Separate Like-Sounding Elements …
        8. … or Combine Like-Sounding Instruments
        9. Center Lead Voices and Instruments
        10. Center Low-Frequency Sounds
        11. Pan Brighter Instruments Left or Right
        12. Balance the Channels—or Not
        13. Move Things Around If Necessary
        14. Pan for Effect
        15. Fine-Tune Levels After Panning
      4. Placing Instruments and Voices on the Stereo Soundstage
        1. Lead Vocals
        2. Backing Vocals
        3. Lead Guitars (and Similar Instruments)
        4. Rhythm Guitars
        5. Piano and Keyboards
        6. Bass
        7. Drums
        8. Auxiliary Percussion
        9. Synthesizers
        10. Strings
        11. Horns
        12. Stereo Instruments
      5. Creating Nonstereo Mixes
        1. Mixing for Mono
        2. Creating a Surround-Sound Mix
  10. Part 5: Enhancing the Mix
    1. 13 Applying Dynamic Effects
      1. Understanding Audio Effects
        1. Adding Plug-In Effects
        2. Applying Inserts and Sends
      2. Using Compression
        1. What Compression Does
        2. Understanding Compressor Settings
        3. Tips, Tricks, and Traps for Effective Compression
      3. Using Limiting
        1. How Limiters Work
        2. Should You Limit?
      4. Using Gating
        1. Understanding Noise Gate Settings
        2. Gating Drum Tracks
      5. Using a De-Esser
    2. 14 Applying Equalization
      1. How EQ Works
        1. Frequency
        2. Boost/Cut
        3. Q
      2. Applying EQ
      3. Common Equalization Settings
        1. Vocal Tracks
        2. Acoustic Piano Tracks
        3. Acoustic Guitar Tracks
        4. Electric Guitar Tracks
        5. Bass Guitar Tracks
        6. Drum Tracks
      4. Carving EQ Holes
      5. Tips, Tricks, and Traps for Effective EQ
    3. 15 Applying Spatial and Modulation Effects
      1. Adding Reverb
        1. What Reverb Is and How It Works
        2. Applying Reverb to Your Mix
        3. Choosing the Right Type of Reverb
        4. Configuring Reverb Settings
        5. Stereo Versus Mono Reverb
        6. Tips for Best Results
      2. Adding Delay
        1. What Delay Is and How It Works
        2. Applying Delay to Your Mix
        3. Tips for Best Results
      3. Adding Modulation Effects
        1. Chorus
        2. Flanger
        3. Phaser
      4. Tips, Tricks, and Traps for Effective Effects
  11. Part 6: Creating Better Mixes
    1. 16 Applying Advanced Techniques
      1. Correcting Pitch
        1. What Pitch Correction Does
        2. Using Auto-Tune
      2. Fixing Timing Issues
      3. Using Automation
      4. Tips for a Better Mix
        1. Know What the Artist Expects
        2. Listen Before You Mix
        3. Take a Break
        4. Start Over If You’re Stuck
        5. Mix for Depth
        6. Make It Wider
        7. Double-Track the Vocals
        8. Sync Effects in Tempo
        9. Mute the Vocals
        10. Less Is More
        11. Mix for the Medium
      5. Avoiding Common Mixing Mistakes
        1. The Low End Is Too Loud
        2. The Mix Is Too Harsh
        3. The Mix Is Muddy
        4. Too Much in the Middle
        5. The Details Are Buried
        6. Constancy Isn’t Always Best
        7. Not Listening
        8. Not Listening Through Different Speakers
        9. Hoping It Can Be Fixed in Mastering
    2. 17 Mixing Vocals
      1. Recording Vocals
        1. Finding the Right Space
        2. Choosing a Vocal Mic
        3. Making the Recording
      2. Mixing Lead Vocals
        1. Setting Levels and Panning
        2. Applying EQ
        3. Applying Reverb, Compression, and Other Effects
      3. Mixing Backing Vocals
    3. 18 Mixing Instruments
      1. Recording Instruments
        1. Recording Acoustic Instruments
        2. Recording Electric Instruments
      2. Mixing Guitars
        1. Levels and Panning
        2. EQ and Effects
      3. Mixing Bass Guitars
        1. Levels and Panning
        2. EQ and Effects
      4. Mixing Pianos and Keyboards
        1. Levels and Panning
        2. EQ and Effects
      5. Mixing Horns
      6. Mixing Strings
    4. 19 Mixing Drums
      1. Recording a Killer Drum Track
        1. Secrets of Mic Placement
        2. Choosing the Right Drum Mics
      2. Setting Levels and Panning
        1. Balancing the Entire Kit
        2. Balancing the Bass Drum
        3. Balancing the Snare Drum
        4. Balancing the Toms
        5. Balancing the Cymbals (Overheads)
      3. Applying the Right Effects
        1. Bass Drum
        2. Snare Drum
        3. Toms
        4. Cymbals and Overheads
    5. 20 Mastering the Final Mix
      1. Understanding the Mastering Process
        1. How Mastering Differs from Mixing
        2. How Mastering Works
        3. What Mastering Can Do
        4. What Mastering Can’t Can’t Do
      2. Knowing When the Mix Is Done
      3. Preparing the Mix for Mastering
      4. Making the Perfect Master
        1. Applying Master Effects and EQ
        2. Using—and Abusing—Compression
        3. Exporting for Distribution
      5. Other Options for Mastering Your Recording
        1. Third-Party Mastering Programs
        2. Professional Mastering
      6. And Now You’re Done …
    6. 21 Interview with a Professional Mixing Engineer
      1. Introducing Corey Miller of The Lodge Recording Studios
      2. Interview with Corey Miller
        1. Getting Started
        2. Working with Different Types of Projects
        3. Working with People
        4. Working with Today’s Technology
        5. Wrapping Things Up
      3. Final Thoughts
  12. Appendixes
    1. A Glossary
    2. B Resources
  13. About the Author