Mixing / mastering

I think Mixing with your Mind taught me the most about mixing/mastering. Worth the cost of admission for the chapter on compression alone.

It’s one you’ll see come up time and time again, but I think there’s a reason why :slight_smile:

note: It tends to be focused on sounds that originate outside the box, and has a decent amount of content about mic placement etc, but even if you don’t ever use that stuff, it’s a great read, and I find most of the techniques applicable ITB as well.

Gave my copy to a friend a while back, otherwise I’d have been happy to lend to lines folx.


With regards to digital levels while recording and mixing, Terry Manning put it best: “Yellow is the new red” as in, keep those levels in the green most of the time. When reducing your music’s dynamic range for the sake of making your masters as loud as the next guy’s, please don’t use the normalizing feature, that’s not its purpose. The use of mastering compressors and limiters to maximize loudness is a complicated task and is an art in itself. Whether or not hiring a professional mastering engineer is in your budget, studying Bob Katz’s book will be illuminating in regards to making your music sound louder. Good luck!


Found some more RB

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have at it folks . its a synth game with highs and lows and noise for you to carve
(but not hopelessly poor quality imo)

for those who care…it’s an alternate take of an unreleased track so use or reuse however you like


I’m going to go against the grain here and say that I very much prefer to normalize my tracks before mixing. The reason being that then the faders in the actually represent the relative volume levels of the various tracks. Without normalization if you have something from a quieter source mixed with something from a louder source it means your faders may have to be at drastically different levels to get them to same relative volume. Once the tracks are normalized the volume faders can be used to set the desired perceived volume levels, and looking at the mixer will actually give you some useful representation of the relative levels of your tracks. Otherwise you can get the situation where track A is much louder than track B and yet its fader is at the same or lower level.

Since this is still all internal to the DAW, there’s no danger of clipping the output, it just makes levels more sane to reason about. I use Reaper as my audio tracking DAW and it’s flexible enough to allow you to normalize individual clips, and then even tweak the gain of each clip after the fact.

I never normalize a final mix though, and just determine the final volume based on material.

I’m by no means an expert at mixing, but this approach has worked pretty well for me. Better than not normalizing anyway.Just so it’s clear. Assuming two tracks, A and B




i do this when i’m doing live sound. and as much as possible, to a certain degree, while tracking. when at FOH, i want to move my faders as little as possible. if suddenly the percussion player is too loud during a quiet section, i can easily move their whole group at once (assuming i have run out of VCAs and/or on an analog console). not for mixing though.

since each daw has a different algorithm for normalization that is a combination of peak, rms, and frequency content, then it’s going to respond very differently for a hi hat(e) mic vs a dimed marshall amp.

This one: https://mrtwinsister.bandcamp.com/album/mr-twin-sister

The music is less electronic and more pop than a lot of what RB works on generally, think that worked to our advantage really.


Took a stab at it, could be better (I think maybe it’s too loud, but maybe not - the file you uploaded was very hot) what do you think?


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Totally agree! I suggested improving your listening environment because it’s often both the most effective AND most economical option. Moving your speakers around in your house is free. Making your own traps is pretty easy and fairly cheap.

If you’re constrained by real life concerns like only being able to work in your concrete garage, I’d also suggest taking bounces and listening to them in multiple situations and at multiple volumes. Most of my really terrible mixes and masters came from making all my decisions based on how the work sounded in one room at mostly one volume.


loving the design and sonically, out of the dark is infectious…gotta dig into this whole thing later

@analogue01 you did fine as far as i can tell but are correct…my level was quite high (i ran thru ableton fx already while digitizing)

shouldve used something uncooked for this excercise

despite this your tools dramatically altered the space I consider to be background and spread these across the stereo field

quite interesting

Ya. This illustrates the point that most “engineering decisions” (like making quiet sounds louder) are in fact artistic ones.


highly recommend Pensado’s Place
also the book Zen and the Art of Mixing (written for engineers of rock bands, but the lessons are great)
also definitely subscribe to Tape Op


+1 – have learned so much from this publication and don’t at all regret trading my freedom from telemarketers for the free subscription. not only gotten great workflow tips, but i’ve also won more than 10 caribbean cruises in the last 7 months!


'The best thing about a 16 track tape machine is limited tracks. It forces better arrangements. Young bands today don’t know how to arrange because of unlimited tracks. They just stack, and stack, and stack. – Kevin Augunas


that being said, the reason why no one can get that clav sound on Superstition, is because there are 8 Stevie’s playing different clavs/amps/delays/reverbs the whole time. on a 16 track tape. “I GET HALF”


also this: Sound FX

my mentor wrote this and i read it at least once a year and always learn something new. with out a doubt the most important book i’ve read that’s helped my mixing.

yes, someone has to make some music first, then it can be mixed/masrered :slight_smile:


Right, but normalisation actually alters the gain of the audio file, which makes me feel queezy. On a hardware mixer, this is what I’d use gain controls for: set the channel gain so that everything sounds of similar volume when the fader is at 0db. In Ableton, this is something I’d do by adjusting clip gain or the gain of my audio interface; I’d much rather have the option to reduce the gain of loud clips non-destructively, and then mix everything similarly… than to just blat everything up to crunchy 0db.

I suppose the other thing that makes all this more problematic in 2016 is - as pointed out in some of the Henke/Becker discussion - the overlap between composition/production/mixing that the DAW enables. It’s all too easy to be listening/composing with a mastering chain on the mixbus at the same time - forgetting how much processing is going on with your audio. The most obvious example being how many new producers seem to be happy to just slap a limiter on master out as the first thing they do…

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definitely car stereo. i check in car, 2 different (nice and horrible) headphones and native laptop and desktop speakers. if fair-pleasant translation occurs on each of those then i have found i can’t reasonably do any better by myself. i do try to get others involved but these days my wife is the only one i can easily get to sit with me. she often helps with clarity.