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Beat mixing techniques:

WEDNESDAY 10 JUNE, 2009

By Simon Rudd

Obtaining a professional sounding mix is often overlooked by many of todays producers. Following the tips and techniques below will start to bring a more professional and industry sound to your Hip Hop and R&B productions.
EQ:
EQ is not just about boosting certain frequencies and hoping that your mix will sound clearer. Cutting frequencies, whether itʼs using a low cut, high cut or simply decreasing a certain frequency volume can have as good an affect as boosting. Equalization is an art form and requires lots of practice. Itʼs important not to have cumulative EQ effects and unwanted build up of certain frequencies.

How can you prevent this happening?

For starters we would recommend purchasing a good EQ plugin that has an analyzer function. This helps you visually understand whatʼs going on with your production. Itʼs important that when decreasing /increasing a frequency volume on a certain track, you also increase / decrease the volume on a sister track.  A sister track would be an instrument that takes up the same frequency band. For example, if you decrease
80Hz from your kick drum track by 3db, then do the opposite on the sister track. In this case you would increase 80Hz by 3db on your bass track. This avoids the unwanted build up of frequencies and will make sure that your mixes stay clean.

Industry Mixing Standards:
When mixing your tracks, make sure that you get the drums and low-end sounding right before you move on to the instrument tracks. This gives a solid starting block for the rest of your mixing. Then you can mix all your other instrument tracks. For example: Piano, Synth Lines, Guitar, Pads, Strings and Brass. Itʼs usually best to leave the percussion and hi-hats till last and pan them to fill in any un-used spaces in your mix spectrum.

Panning is a simple, yet very effective tool when it comes to obtaining a professional mix. By panning your Hi-Hats 30% Right, Snare slightly off centre, Shaker 30% Left and any other percussion instruments in the gaps you will notice your mix starting to sound much more stereo and wide. Creating space in your mix is key to becoming a top producer.

Compression:
Compression could be one of the most useful tools to creating the best mix possible. Compression immediately stops your mixes sounding amateur. For example, when recording vocals or a kick drum, you can control the dynamic difference in the audio signal. One part might be too loud and another too quiet.  Using compression can stop this and start to even out the volume level and make your mixes sound more balanced. Learning about compression, ratio settings, threshold, attack and release will allow you to do more with compression and eventually give your kicks the punch they deserve and all other tracks a more evened out, professional sound.

Frequency Spectrum:
Making sure that you have different frequencies filled with different instruments is very important. You donʼt want all your instruments in the same pitch range. If you have a medium range piano melody occupying the 300Hz - 2000Hz range, then try adding a high pitch string line which occupies the 5000Hz and above range.  Using this simple technique will allow your mixes to sound more professional, make each instrument appear clearer and also allow the volume of your overall mix to be much hotter (Loud). Note: Using a stereo spreader can be golden if you donʼt over do it.  Using the above tips and techniques, you will find your mixes and productions start sounding more professional, cleaner, and most importantly, more sellable than before!

 
 
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