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Thread: What is the best order in mixing tracks?

  1. #11
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    Kick, snare/overheads and vocals, then bass, then fit everything else around that. Then go back and fine tune, especially making the definition range of the bass fit with what was added later.

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    Drums....Bass...Lead Vox.....These are the fundamental of the song...usually. I will work on these until I don't 'need' anything else to get the point of the song and the arrangement across.

    I will then make my stems for these and this is where I will bring everything else. I will not change the balance of the the first three ever after this point. If adding something tends to decrease the effect of anything then that thing gets worked on till it fits without changing the original three.

    It's really surprising how calm this makes the master buss. Yet it still has impact and headroom.
    Chord with this, Teddy......

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    Quote Originally Posted by cavedog101 View Post
    Drums....Bass...Lead Vox.....These are the fundamental of the song...usually. I will work on these until I don't 'need' anything else to get the point of the song and the arrangement across.

    I will then make my stems for these and this is where I will bring everything else. I will not change the balance of the the first three ever after this point. If adding something tends to decrease the effect of anything then that thing gets worked on till it fits without changing the original three.

    It's really surprising how calm this makes the master buss. Yet it still has impact and headroom.
    Ever? I find that odd man.

    No disrespect but I do not think I have ever 'not' changed something I thought was perfect after adding other instruments...

    I also find odd the 'stem' thing. A mix is a combination of how all tracks work together as a whole. If a 'stem' is just a group track, then it is still just a channel that things are placed in. I would never hold my breath and say those are final before all recording was complete. Hell, a flute tone could change the way I mix in a cello...

    The genre is a huge factor in the way I would mix a song. Even the slight difference between rock and country (though very similar now), I will approach differently. Then the new metal stuff is way different. And then the pop (poop) stuff I work with is a whole different game.

    But still, it starts with drums for me. Vocals are first in my head as far as production, but last in my order of recording.
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    Yep, what gets added affects what was there first. Hearing is relative, not absolute.

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    Mixing drums, bass and lead vox, getting them stable, then leaving them untouched thereafter is not an unreasonable approach. I don't think I would personally "not change the balance of the the first three ever after this point", but it would be illuminating to work to that rule.

    I take the point that others have noted, i.e. the introduction into a mix of instrument B can change how instrument A sounds in the mix (and then again with instrument C), so there is a bit of juggling to make them all play nicely together.

    However, I note also that altering the foundation of a building to accommodate changes to what happens on top is not good construction practice. And I regard drums, bass and lead vocal as the foundations of a song.

    The benefit of working on those three elements then leaving them alone is that it can prevent 'instrument creep', i.e. you add in instruments B and C, but now you can't hear A, so you push A up. But now you can't hear B, so up it goes. But C disappears . . . and on and on until everything is way too loud and you end up with a mess.

    And you can leave the foundation untouched if you know and understand how subsequent additions will effect the overall sound. It is a practice not unknown to the like of George Martin. They had to do exactly this through the limitations of four-track recording.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    Mixing drums, bass and lead vox, getting them stable, then leaving them untouched thereafter is not an unreasonable approach. I don't think I would personally "not change the balance of the the first three ever after this point", but it would be illuminating to work to that rule.

    I take the point that others have noted, i.e. the introduction into a mix of instrument B can change how instrument A sounds in the mix (and then again with instrument C), so there is a bit of juggling to make them all play nicely together.

    However, I note also that altering the foundation of a building to accommodate changes to what happens on top is not good construction practice. And I regard drums, bass and lead vocal as the foundations of a song.

    The benefit of working on those three elements then leaving them alone is that it can prevent 'instrument creep', i.e. you add in instruments B and C, but now you can't hear A, so you push A up. But now you can't hear B, so up it goes. But C disappears . . . and on and on until everything is way too loud and you end up with a mess.

    And you can leave the foundation untouched if you know and understand how subsequent additions will effect the overall sound. It is a practice not unknown to the like of George Martin. They had to do exactly this through the limitations of four-track recording.
    Everyone has their own methodology to this art. Some people paint and others draw.....they are still illuminating something in their efforts. In a multi-song production, sometimes the entire thing begs to be treated as a whole rather than 8-15 individual portions. Sometimes not.

    My point of sharing my method is one born of many hours of slaving over a hot fader......And this is the personal part for me...YMMV....I found a much more cohesiveness to projects by using the method described here-in. For me , personally, it started to eliminate the constant mind changing and hand wringing and never actually finishing things to certain degree.

    Of course, everyone here who does full-length stuff knows you're never 'finished' you simply 'abandon' things in order to move on.......

    So, what works for me may not be someone else s cuppa joe, and though it may seem ridgid and unbending in how I worded my description, there's a lot of room available to make things kik ass, or be light, or take on a number of faces and emotions simply because you have a lot of lee-way with the melodic instruments.

    But there's one thing that I am totally old-skool about no matter the genre.......Everything supports the vocal and the lyrics. Otherwise, why sing at all......

    And yes, this stuff all comes from having to make decisions due to technical limitations back in the day.
    Chord with this, Teddy......

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    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    There is no particular best order of mixing tracks, and it mostly boils down to personal taste.

    However, I do have a preferred order.


    1 I get the drums sorted first.
    2 I then bring up the bass so that drums and bass sound happy together
    3 Lead vocals is next. All going well, the song should sound great with just these three elements.
    4 Other instruments come next in no particular order.
    5 Finally, backing vocals get added.


    6 Master all (steps) together so that it sounds happy together.

    It always happens to me that when or before i reach step 5 some step(s) earlier needs correction. Sometimes a slight detail, and sometimes something really different to compliment the total.

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    ALL those previously stated will work, it will depend on what u feel most comfortable doing and with success comes confidence. I would suggest trying different methods until u find what works best for you. I, for instance, bring all faders up first, listen to track and get a "feel", I may or may not jot notes about things that are sticking out, not forward enough, clashing, etc but first listen is just to orient to tune. Next pass I start the note taking, listen, pause, note take, listen , pause , note take. Than, using my notes, I go back to kick, bass, snare, lead vocal, rhythm parts(melodic and percussive), backround vocals, feature instruments, level balancing ONLY, while noting what needs correcting-eq, compression etc. Next is surgery-using eq and compression to balance frequencies. REDO levels cause now everything is louder! ha ha.. Next place in space-reverbs, delays, compression and eq tweaks , panning, mutes-the creative sh-t. Back to levels. repeat as needed until magic oozes out of speakers, Note : frequent rest breaks and reference tracks are highly recommended. Izotope.com has a short series of helpful vids, also youtube
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