mix basics


a couple things about levels... I started monitoring with speakers and noticed noise on some tracks..barely in the yellow on a Motu M2...so I turned down the VST/Halion master volume and that helped but it made me wonder about the other levels. On a song that has say 5 midi tracks and 2 audio tracks
I have the midi tracks faders at about -6 average before mixing..does that sound about right?? And the master out is at 0. FX channels at 0.
BIG difference between headphones(AKG 371) and the Adam t5 monitors. The headphones are SO detailed and vibrant and the monitors just
wash out most of the dynamics. What a drag. But most pros use monitors, yes??So somehow you have to learn how to make the difference between them
very small..Do you ever have a tracks volume at 0 or close on a final mix?? It seems to a rookie like thats too high.
Do some engineers just send out mixes that are for headphones only???? Cause it seems like maybe a good idea. Most music nowadays is file based and heard on hps. But lots of CDs are mixed so well that either way sounds great. So there must be a way.
individual tracks to hit peaks of -10dbfs, clip gain down or adjust the output of your midi tracks (don't do this on fader), master will normally be fine and will peak around -5dbfs, maybe a bit higher, maybe a bit lower. It really doesn't matter. Your levels are spot on IMO. I always aim to have my faders up near unity throughout the entire mix. If I have 3 or 4 snare tracks, they can be all over the place but the actual snare group fader wants to be near 0 for me. (the fader position not the levels, my snare is still peaking around -6 to -10dbfs. I used to gain stage down all of my tracks to -12dbfs and this is fine still, but my master would always end up around -15dbfs (it was inexperience at mixing at fault here) now I kinda know what I'm doing I actually peak on most of my tracks around -6dbfs with the full realisation that I have yet to limit/compress/cut stuff, so this can sort out major transients and although my meters say i'm peaking at -6, the tracks still far too quiet because of the useable part of the signal. I actually find it difficult to stay up near -6dbfs, I definitely never run into issues of clipping my master, if I do then this is at the start of the mix. This is because my tracks average level comes up and transient information gets rounded off/limited so my peaks are controlled, along with the fact that I mostly cut when I am EQing, so I lose Db's there too. Some mixers add EQ through each stage and I guess this is where some people can run into a bit of trouble while running out of headroom. But that is never the case for me

On noise.. if your audio tracks are too noisy can you re-record and figure out how to overcome the noise issue in the first place? or if it's not to bad sometimes I'll de-noise the file before I start mixing. Are you getting noise on your midi tracks? The midi tracks if you are using vsti's, synths or whatever in the actual DAW should be silent?

There used to be some kind of (rule) to leave at least -6dbfs on your master ready for your mastering engineer. I never understood why, and niether does Warren Huart. Just make sure you have enough headroom so you can ride some faders, and don't be too low in volume then you're good to go. (edit, to clarify - warren huart uses all of the best mixing engineers in the world and he says in his own words (they don't give a shizz if they receive songs that are peaking at 0, or 6 or even 10, they will just turn it up, or down, it's as simple as that)

edit, sorry I read again. your levels are 0 on master, then no that's too hot if you are midway into your mix. leave around 5dbs, if your mix is finished and it's peaking at -2dbfs or 0dbfs, don't worry about it, although I would feel uneasy having my mix peak at 0, and I never would, it's actually a good idea to have your mix hitting up against a limiter with a ceiling set to 0.3dbfs to allow for a clean render to mp3 with headroom for that conversion. Allowing headroom on my master is often a very simple move with how I have my project set up, all tracks get routed to group busses and I always make sure to never automate these so it's as simple as selecting all and nudging them all down 1db, my mix will still be in balance, I just need to check the master plugin chain and maybe do a little tweak to get correct levels going back through my plugins again.

while i'm here. headphones will fatigue you faster and you will miss obvious mistakes that your monitors will pick up, and vice versa. I use HD650s and while I am SURE i have a slamming mix on the headphones, when I switch to monitors I always find I overdid the high end, high mids. (harsh abrasive sound)

If using monitors do set them up using a tape measure and try to keep at least 18" away from any boundary if possible. Then make sure they are both outputting an equal volume, download pink noise -20rms, and then download an app on your phone to read SPL levels. and get each speaker exact in volume. I use sonarworks to further correct my listening position along with being inside some acoustic panels, but I do still use headphones and listen on hifi/ipad/mono crappy speaker etc. I just have to do this less than I used to

Final EDIT: I did NOT intend to ramble on there, but your question lead me down the rabbit hole, I said as minimal as I could I feel. Hopefully I did not confuse you. I am aware that my grammar above is not the best. but I am out of time
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gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
Master output is usually at 0. I try to leave that alone.

The track levels are set to whatever levels are need to get a good mix. Some will be high, others will be low. It depends on the level of the signal that's been recorded, or the level of the VST.

One reason for the difference in perception between phones and monitors is possibly the relative volume at which you are listening. Another reason is the difference in acoustic properties between the two, i. e. the difference between listening to speakers some distance away and having complete stereo separation at your ears via phones.

Most commercial studios mix on speakers for the reason you identified: you get CDs mixed well so that they sound good either way.


So you have nice gear - Motu and Adam. Is your room acoustically treated? If not, that could explain some of the reason why the mix thru monitors isn't as good.


If the mix doesn't sound good on a decent pair of monitors, there's a fair chance it won't sound good on something else. Of course, a terrible room can be a problem, but if you've got the monitors placed for appropriate near-field usage and the level isn't too high, then it shouldn't sound *bad* IMO. It's one thing if some style of music might sound better on phones or earbuds, but it should generally translate to any device with some fidelity.

The advice on levels you've gotten is good. Noise can be a "gain staging" problem, i.e., not getting the appropriate signal level recorded, either by mic placement, or gain/level setting on a device that is going direct. If the result is a bit hot in the initial, 'static' mix (no FX, all faders at 0), myself, I go through and adjust clips/regions with a gain setting/plugin (depends on DAW) so the faders are just used probably in that +/- area where you have good, fine control. Then, start tinkering with all your FX and automation.


Active member
Are you fading your tracks raw, or rendering them first? Even if they are recorded as wav's I render them as wav's. Drag that file back in and track it. Work with the rendered one.


its getting better...I need more time for technique..thanks for the info/replies.. btw look at this screenshot of Cubase...is that meter on the right with the LUFS available in Artist??? if so what is it called..?thanks


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