I received a question recently about how to mix a full album from start to finish.
I thought this was an interesting subject to cover because we often just talk about how to mix single songs and don’t worry about the greater concept of the full album mix.
It’s easy to mix one song but when you need to make a 10 song album sound consistent you’ll start to feel a little overwhelmed.
To reduce that anxiety, here are a few steps you can take when you’re tackling a full album or an EP.
1. Mix the Best Track First
Obviously you have to start somewhere so you’ll need to pick a song.
A few ways you can select your starting point can be:
- Pick the song that’s the most fun to listen to
- Pick the song that sounds the most complicated
- Pick the song the band decided is the single
- Pick the song that best represents the overall sound of the band
From there you just go to work and try to make that song sound the best it can be. Once you’ve got one song completed and sounding awesome you’ll have some options moving forward.
2. Keep the Sound Consistent Through Presets
If you save all your tracks as preset channel strips you can easily duplicate those settings on any future songs. That way you can do a rough static mix of each successive song and then add your presets in to get close to a final mix.
If you’re working with a punk rock trio where all the songs sound more or less the same you’ll be almost done at this point. But chances are you’ll have to tweak the presets according to the differences of each song.
Using the presets you’ve created doesn’t just save you time. It also lets you keep a fairly consistent sound from one song to another, which helps make it sound like a coherent album, not just a collection of songs by the same band.
3. Import and Save-As
Another way to save time after you’ve mixed the first song is to import the tracks of each song into that session and use the Save-As command to save each session as a different song.
Of course, this works best if the instrumentation of each song is mostly the same. That way you’ll import both fader balances, groups, sends and plug-in settings across the board to each song.
If every song has different instruments and feel then this won’t work as well because the tracks won’t translate from one session to another. If one song is heavily guitar-driven but the next is full of synths then the initial mix doesn’t really help.
At that point it’s easier to just use the presets you’ve saved from the instruments that all the songs have in common and tackle the rest independently of the other songs.
Mastering is Crucial
Even if you manage to make all the mixes sound similar to each other with the aforementioned tips, chances are the songs will still differ in frequency response and overall volume.
That’s why mastering is such a crucial aspect of making an album sound like an album and not just a collection of songs. If you outsource your mastering then you don’t have to worry about this step. If you do it yourself it’s important to make the most of metering tools, loudness meters and other mastering tools to get each song to sound like it belongs on the album.
Mix an Album In No Time With Quick Mixing
If you’re struggling to create great mixes then let me give you some tips to get you up and running in no time.
In Quick Mixing I show you how to create a quality mix in less than two hours using only stock plug-ins. I give you plenty of tips and techniques to try out to make a bigger impact with your mixes.
Check out the trailer below to hear how I transform a two-dimensional recording into a great sounding mix.
Of course, two hours might not always be enough time for you to get the mix you want, and if I were to release this song I might spend more time tweaking it but with only two hours of time you’ll walk away with an arsenal of audio tricks to try out.
Grab your copy here: