Read about how one educator changed music class in his district forever – by introducing the hands-on Music Technology program.
Audio mixing is the art of combining sounds to create a unified whole. When talking about audio mixing we tend to think about musicians creating an album in a recording studio, but audio mixing is just as essential in live music, film/television, radio, and computer games.
A multitrack recording created in a studio may have tens (or in some cases hundreds) of tracks, but can only be enjoyed by a listener when mixed down to a stereo (or surround sound) composition that can be played through speakers or headphones. Audio mixing is not simply a practical necessity though, it is also an artistic endeavour in its own right. A great mix can create an enveloping sound-scape from a piece of music, and masters of the craft are in constant demand.
A skilled mix engineer will find a home within the sound space for every component of a composition, and ensure the key elements are always in focus.
There are several tools at the disposal of the mix engineer which must be skilfully applied to produce a cohesive whole:
- Level – the relative volume and dynamic range of components
- Spatial Positioning – Places the sound in space within a stereo or surround mix
- Equalisation – Balancing the prominent frequencies of each component to ensure it doesn’t clash with any other
- Effects – Reverb and other audio effects may be used to shape sounds
In the early days of music production the objective of a mix was simply to reproduce a live performance, but seminal albums such as Sargent Pepper and The Dark Side of the Moon used the recording studio as a laboratory to create never-before-heard sounds.
Creating a complex mix originally required a huge mixing desk as much as a house, but now the same power is available on a laptop and any musician can explore the possibilities and develop their ears for audio mixing.
It goes without saying that to become a professional mix engineer you need to develop excellent ears, but ear training for mixing can also help you gain invaluable skills for creating your band’s demo, working on a hobby video project or helping out at a live music event.
The Frequency Fundamentals series is all about audio frequency ear training and how to recognise frequencies by ear. Learn about the characteristics of EQ bands, how to EQ percussion and other instruments, and ways that ear training on audio frequencies can help any musician or producer.
Ear training for audio mixing can help you to:
- Understand how a record was mixed just by by listening to it
- Replicate successful techniques and mixes for your own music
- Improve your understanding of equalisation by allowing you to pinpoint frequencies by ear
- Understand, recognise and use audio effects
- Improve your appreciation of compression and dynamics
- Hear the artefacts of mixing problems, such as clipping
Free articles about Audio Mixing
This guide gives you an introduction to what you’ll need for making music with software, as well as tips on arranging, mixing, effects, and more.
Behind every star rapper is a producer creating unforgettable beats for their songs. Pro producer Tim Koi shares his tips for crafting your own beats!
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Jason Dzamba shares a process for composing that will help you steer clear of writer’s block and focus your creativity.
Composer Mike Reed shows you around the esoteric world of background music composition, sharing his techniques and creative process along the way.
EDM is a fun and fascinating genre of music. Birthed at the end of the disco era, electronic dance music has made a huge impact on modern artists and culture.
The crucial last step of home recording—mastering—is often farmed out to pros. Give your tracks that professionally mastered sound with this new app.
Inexpensive digital sampling technology and the never-ending quest for new sounds has opened up the world of music to any and all sounds in our environment.
The voice is the instrument we are all have. Now, using synthesizers, it can be processed to create unique sounds. Listen to 5 songs using this technique.
Learn the equipment and techniques which gave Claire and the Potatoes the distinctive throwback sound of their new album in this interview with Marc Sirdoreus.
Next time you take on a collaborative mixing project, keep these tips in mind to explore the full range of musical possibilities and find the perfect mix.
Do some audio frequency ear training and you’ll find it easier to mix percussion, choose the perfect drum kits for your tracks, and adjust their EQ in the mix.