The 1 dB Rule Helps You Make Better Mixes
I made brownies. The recipe said to cook for 22 – 25 minutes.
A minute can make a big difference, but I started with 22 minutes to get a reference point.
They were delicious, naturally.
The next week I made brownies again. We discovered that making thin brownies makes them better, so we craved them again.
This time I thought, let’s see the difference in consistency when I set it for 23 minutes.
They were delicious again. A little less chewy and just a minute better.
The next time I make brownies, what do you think I will do?
That’s right. I’ll set the oven for 24 minutes.
What Do Brownies Have To Do With Mixing Music?
I do the same when I start mixing, except instead of minutes, I do dBs.
Does the kick sit better if it’s one dB louder? If so, I keep going, a dB at a time, until it’s sticking out too much.
Then I move on up the mix. I find a good general balance and then massage everything together one dB at a time.
Spend a little extra time balancing your faders; maybe you won’t need to spend so much time with the rest of your mix.
The 1 dB Rule
The 1 dB rule is something I talk about in my #1 Amazon best-selling book, Step By Step Mixing: How to Create Great Mixes Using Only 5 Plug-ins.
Here’s how it works:
Move each track up or down 1 dB. If the mix sounds better, try another dB until it starts sounding worse.
When you can’t move a track one dB up or down without making it worse, you’re as close to the sweet spot as you can get with only levels.
You follow the same pattern with other instruments, whether drum loops, keys, extra acoustic instruments, synthesizers or vocals.
Massaging them in place and moving each track up or down 1 dB at a time will help you get a nice initial balance.
Then, when it’s time to put your plug-ins on and start your processing, you know which five plug-ins you should start with:
And if you have any issues with any of those plug-ins, Step By Step Mixing will help you master the most important plug-ins you need to make better mixes.
In just a few hours, you’ll learn exactly how to make awesome mixes using only the five most important plug-ins you already have in your DAW.
Maybe this is the weekend you’ll end up mastering those five processors to make kick-ass mixes?