Saturday, October 8, 2016

5 way to achieve better separation when mixing

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to take a look at 5 ways to achieve a better mix separation, and this article will be particularly useful to those who feel when mixing that they can't separate exactly the various instruments, letting them mask one another and creating muddiness.

This article is connected to our "the focus of our mix", "how to use equalization" and  "ear training" articles.

1) Choose carefully what to leave in the top end area: especially in crowded mixes (those with a lot of high pitched instruments like cymbals, shakers, high vocals etc), having a high end area full of eq masking and conflicts can lead very easily to a bad mix.
We don't want our mix to be confused, so we must keep it clean by using a low pass filter on almost every instrument to free up frequency space for the chosen 2 or 3 elements that we can leave to roam in this area.
This way the selected elements of the mix will be much easier to understand and in the overall sound will result less harsh.

2) Achieving separation in the low end area: similarly to the high end area, we cannot leave each element of the mix to roam free in the lower area, therefore we will have to high pass almost every track to move them further in the mix and again avoid eq masking: we should leave in this area mainly bass and kick drum, and anyway also the kick drum doesn't need to go too much low, where the bass instead could. Definitely guitars should free up some space here.

3) The most sensitive frequences to the human ear: Top end and low end are crowded, but no area of the frequency spectrum is crowded as the most sensitive one to the human ear, the one around 2000hz. This area is the one in which we should find 2 or 3 elements that will be in the front, and lower or carve the eq of the other elements of the mix. Usually the elements of the mix that must stay in front are vocals, snare and kick, but this rule can change from genre to genre.

4) Route everything in groups/busses: creating groups of tracks is good to process them together, for example routing all the vocal tracks in one buss, all the drum skins in another one, all the rhythm guitars in a third one and so on. The purpose is yes to free up computer resources, but also to give a sense of homogeneity to all the tracks inside a group processing them together, and to separate them better: it is easier to have only 5 or 6 groups to manage with eq and compression when finding the right place to every mix part, rather than 30 single tracks.

5) Don't boost too hard: if you need any boost harder than +6db you must or reconsider your starting sound, or free up place among the other instruments in that area: when you boost a sound the computer creates a digital reconstruction of what it imagines that sound would be if it was louder in that area, but the more you boost the farthest it gets from reality and it becomes twisted and unnatural.
The ideal boosts should be 2-3db if we want to obtain a pleasant, natural sound that is representative of the source sound.

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