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How to Get That 'Wow' Kind of Mix

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This article originally appeared on The Recording Revolution.

 

Every time I crack open the latest issue of Sound on Sound or watch an interview with a top mix engineer sitting in his studio surrounded by racks of outboard gear, I’m reminded of one thing: Mixing is elevated above all other aspects of the song creation process.

Everyone is talking about “magic” plugins, summing mixers, and secret side-chain tricks. I get it. Mixing is a complex art form and it can make or break a good recording. That’s why I create some of the best mixing resources on the planet. (You can get started with this free guide.)

But perhaps we elevate it too much.

Video: How to Mix Background Vocals

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Jul 24, 2017 06:00 AM

Dave Kusek

Improve Your Mix With These 3 Music Theory Tips

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This article originally appeared on the DIY Musician blog.

 

So your band is finally in the studio. You’ve been working hard in rehearsals to create great songs, and you know that your lyrics and melodies are strong. You finish your last rehearsal and feel like your band has a huge sound. You show up, set everything up, record your first song, listen back to it, and discover that the mix is falling flat. What do you do?

Here's How to Get the Best Mix Possible on a Budget

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Not everyone can afford the thousands of dollars worth of tools to make stellar home recordings. The good news is you don't need them – a skilled craftsman can get the most out of simple tools.

If you hone your skills and broaden your knowledge, you can get by with the basic stuff you probably already own (assuming you have recording software and monitors). Here are just a few tips to help you along.

4 Easy, Free Alternatives to Digital Reverb

Photo by Angel Laws via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Find any great album in your collection, and you'll probably find unique tones throughout. Great recordings tear down assumptions and start from scratch, creating new sounds at every stage of the process. Visionary writers team up with open-minded and canny producers to find a palette of sound that makes the artist recognizable and matches up perfectly with the message of the music. Recording musicians are always looking for new ways to hack the listening experience and transcend the normal medium.

So why do we all reach for the reverb knob as soon as we lay down a vocal in the studio? That’s because reverb works. It sounds good, and almost always works more effectively in a recording context than a bone-dry vocal.

A great studio reverb could become a part of your signature sound, but the very one you’re using is most likely in wide use already, so you’re losing a chance to find an ingredient that would make your music special. Are there easy alternatives to digital reverb? Fortunately, yes.