Live 4 track mix


Not sure if I'm in the right room for this inquiry but here goes.
I have some 4 track recordings of me and an old bandmate to which we get together once a year and dick around for about 8 hours doing Beatle songs and other classics. Hit ''record' and let most of it all be captured on the recorder.
Two guitars and two vocals. There is a bit of mic bleed. And the input levels vary.
I've done some light mixing/editing on a few of the songs I extracted off the main recordings and didn't fuss to much over it as I was just looking to send a rough copy to him.

I'm now looking to archive this stuff and want to know a way to get these tracks at consistent levels to get a decent mix. I'm going to anticipate that some of you will recommend some type of compression. Which is fine but for whatever reason I have a hard time with it. As I know what its supposed to do, I can't dial it in without changing the overall tone. I've had some success with a plugin preset called a Trackslammer for 3 and 4 part harmonies. But those are isolated overdubbs.

So I'm looking for tips or a baseline to start with, or a plugin recommendation etc... I'm aware I'm not going to get perfection but something I can mix down and have all tracks be heard with some consistency.
Hope it makes some kind of sense!


Can't comment until we hear it? Compression is optional and could be absolutely essential or not needed - it's context driven. With all effects, it's your taste, not ours, but we can only base comments on yours vs the genre as known. If you are doing Beatles in the original style, then it won't be much compression or effects apart from reverb. In other words - the recording sound as if they are not messed with, even if they are. Go too far so we hear it, and you overcooked. Two guitars or guitar and bass? Makes a difference. If you post a sample of what you are struggling with people will chime in - but without, it's like commenting on colours on an art forum without the picture to view. "I'm doing a Rembrandt painting and having trouble with red, it always looks too much like blood?"
Hi Rob,
Thanks for your input.
I guess what I'm looking at is to get each individual track to where the loud parts and the soft parts get evened up and then put them together to mix down. Some of the recordings are 40 - 50 minutes long and include talking in between takes etc...
I'll see about getting a sample on here. I thought that some of you guys may have some insight but I see your point
Well, compression can level things out, but if it's not done well, or misapplied where something else, like volume automation or "clip gain" might better serve the end, then it might not be the first choice for some folks.

I like the idea of trying to get the best "static" mix possible. If you have a real long session, you might start by slicing it where the individual songs are, and then simply adjust each tracks gain (usually a track setting - not a fader operation) to get the best balance you can on that song. Start with insuring everything has no peaks above say -6dB. Then, move on quickly through all of them. Listen again, and make any minor changes, even a dB or half dB up or down might be needed. After that you can start to pick at the parts where there's still something too loud or soft. Then, do you just repeat the slice-and-gain-adjust treatment, maybe within a song, or do you need to automate a fader up and down for a smoother transition, or is compression really the best answer to level out a performance that's uneven? Only your ears can tell, but if you try something, and it still doesn't seem right, drop back a step or two and post where you are.
I'm with Keith. Cut the tracks and adjust them at the clip (event, whatever your DAW calls it) to get things in the general ballpark of even. Then make smaller adjustments as needed. Putting a compressor on each track could ride the volume, but it will change the tone and density when things go from loud to soft. It will also tend to bring up background noise on the quieter parts. In this instance, it would be like trying to do brain surgery with a hammer and chisel.
Thanks for the input guys. Appreciate it. Although as tenuous as it might be, would likely be the best method to what I'm trying to do.