I was experimenting with a mix the other day.
It was actually a mix I had finished but I gave myself a challenge.
I wanted to approach it with a very simple mindset.
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Here’s what I did:
1. Levels - I set all the levels so that everything played nice together.
2. Panning – I panned things around to give every instrument some space in the stereo field.
3. Groups - From 8 guitar tracks down to 3 guitar groups. From 5 drum tracks to 1 subgroup. From 4 backing vocals to 1 stereo fader. You get the idea. Once I cut my faders from 25 to 8 I had a much easier time managing my levels.
4. Processing – Now, with only 8 faders or so I basically treated each one like a mastering stem, applying EQ and compression on each subgroup to make that submix sound good. For example, if the guitars were getting in the way of the vocal it was easy to EQ the guitars around the vocal with only one EQ. Saving time and CPU power at the same.
5. Effects – I allowed myself three effect tracks. One for drums, one for instruments and one for vocals. A combination of reverb and delay on those three effect tracks was enough to get this mix sounding great.
The moral of the story?
Sometimes you don’t need every plug-in on the market. Sometimes you don’t need to over-complicate your mixes.
Sometimes simple is better.
If you want to learn the simplest ways to approach your mix, and get great results with minimal effort, check out Mixing Strategies.