How to Mix Multiple Instruments Together in a Busy Mix
More instruments in a mix means more work.
Once you start adding in more stuff that once wide-open frequency spectrum starts getting smaller and smaller. So how do you carve out a spot for each instrument in your mix?
Make Them Sit Right from the Start
Making the instrument sound great from the get-go is preferable.
This takes skill if you’re recording everything all at once. It takes a lot of test recordings to make sure all the instruments sound great together.
However, this takes a bunch of work and is boring right? You’d rather want a shortcut I assume?
Slice and Dice with EQ
Use EQ to carve out a place for each and every instrument.
You could say that each instrument has a specific place in the frequency spectrum. Although the areas may overlap from instrument to instrument, there is always a “sweet frequency” that works the best for each instrument.
Once you find the sweet spot in the frequency range of, say, the guitar, it might be clashing too much with the snare. From there you can do a few things:
- Cut – Cut the same frequency in the snare drum to make the two instruments sit better.
- Boost – Boost the snare a few frequencies higher to mask the effect of clashing instruments.
- Reduce – Lower the volume of either instrument to make the clashes sound less severe.
But before you even start slapping EQs all over the place, make sure you’ve done the minimal amount of mixing before that.
Every good mix starts with the right levels.
Whether you mix all faders up or start at the kick drum, the right levels should be there before you start processing your mix.
Because maybe you’ll find out it doesn’t need as much EQ or compression that you thought.
Maybe the mix gels pretty well without it. For instance, drums are often over-EQ’d because they sound too loud when all you the rest of the mix some room. If it starts to sound pretty good, but you know it could be better, that’s when you pull out the processors.
And if you need some help figuring out how to use EQ, I have two great ways to learn.
The first is my free EQ course containing over 70 hacks to improving your mixes.
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Or you can buy my full EQ Strategies – The Ultimate Guide to EQ.
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Image by: Roadside Guitars