1. Gain Staging
If you know me, you know I am hot (pun excused) on the issue of Gain Staging. Overly literal audio engineers will tell you how it isn’t needed in digital, which is true until you use an compressor or any analogue-modelling plugin!
But the benefits go beyond those of a technical nature, it’s also a matter of workflow and understanding how signal flow can drastically affect the behaviour of your plugins and how you use them.
Here is an article I wrote before about Gain Staging in Logic Pro X
This is the key to mixing. The very quality of the mix is predicated on how well balanced the elements are in the sound stage. One of my favourite pieces of advice is to watch the stage!
The sound stage is a 3 dimensional place. Your goal is to make sure you position the elements in the stage for the benefit of the mix as a whole. NOT for the benefit of the individual track.
Once you’ve got your gain staging down, simply listen to what’s there, work the faders, and focus solely on balance. Fight the urge to dive straight into plugins and use them only to resolve issues that arise when balancing elements.
Mixing IS balancing.
This is the natural next step after fader work. Panning is one of your best allies in the mix process. Again, think carefully about your sound stage and pan your tracks in a way that best compliments the mix as a whole.
Having said that, it really helps to understand the psychoacoustic nature of stereophonic sound. Here is an article I wrote to help you understand stereo and the way our brain decodes that information.
Personally, I like to make my life as simple as possible. But also, simplicity is something I feel is highly undervalued in audio today. Bussing can help us here. Try routing all instrument groups early on in the process to simplify your thinking and to enable you to work holistically when mixing, as opposed to diving into too much detail too early.
The easiest way to do this in Logic Pro X is to use Summing Track Stacks.
This is the big one. That moment when you start doing things for the sake of it, adding candy here and there without any real purpose. This is the moment where you need to just commit and bounce. Come back to the printed mix the next day and listen with a fresh perspective. No distracting project lanes and plugins, just listen. Take notes and execute on them.
Mixing is a craft and takes years of practice to get good. However, knowing best practices and tools along the way will help you get there with minimal distractions and let downs. Here is a coupon for my Mixing in Logic Pro X Course to help you as a guide.
Happy mixing, and as always, please feel free to take advantage of our Free Mix Feedback Service.
Christopher Carvalho runs Unlock Your Sound helping up-and-coming musicians create and release their music without all of the headaches.