How to mix music: wrapping up

For those who just arrived at this blog post, we are in a series on beginner mixing tutorials educating young producers on the process and workflow of mixing a song. In our first blog post, we talked about how to prepare yourself for a mix, in our second blog post, we discussed four things that you can do during the first hour of mixing, our third blog post talks about some EQ and compression techniques for your mix and in this final blog post, we discuss things to consider when wrapping up a mix.

#1. Adding effects

If you’ve been following our mixing workflow since the first blog post, you should have completed volume balancing, EQ shaping, and compression by now. To sweeten things up, consider adding effects such as reverbs, delays, chorus etc to your mix. Effects not only give your mix a sense of space and depth but it helps keep things interesting. The use of delays play with a listener’s ear and provides movement in a mix. Reverbs (both mono and stereo) puts a certain instrument or musical part in a space while creative effects such as chorus, bit crushers, and distortion add color where sounds are otherwise dull. Some engineers like to mix with effects from the very start, but for beginners, it is better not to rely on effects at the start to “mask” problem areas of your mix.

#2. Automation

One of the last things you should do is add automation to your mix. Mixing is called mixing for a reason – the process is not static. You are to constantly mix the song as the song progresses. Automation is handy as it helps your mix sound cohesive from start to finish. Play through your mix and automate the volumes for instruments and parts that need to be louder or softer. Create cool effects by automating effect sends and returns. Use automation to build tension in a mix by making things go loud, only then to dip to a softer volume. Do not underestimate the power of automation as it can level up a mix. Once again, print your mix before you automate and print it again after. Take a listen and make sure it sounds better.

#3. Work your mix till 85%

This tip applies more if you are working a mix for a client, but if you are mixing your own song, it is also worth some consideration. Personally, I never mix to a 100%. By that, I mean that I mix till I the point where I feel the mix is in a  good presentable spot but know that there is still room for improvement. I call that point, the 85% mark. It is at this mark that I send the mix out to my client for feedback and let him/her know that the mix is not a 100% yet. The benefit of giving a ‘work-in-progress’ mix is that if your mix is going in the wrong direction than what your client envisioned, you still have the opportunity to change it and not waste that 100% of the effort you put into the mix.

It is easier to revert a mix back to its 50% mark, or 25% mark if you have not fully finished it. As a good practice, save your mix at different stages so that you can roll it back at any time. Splice Studio provides free unlimited version control for your projects and stores all your data privately in the cloud.

Reuben Raman Content & Community Manager at Splice