The Difference Between Good Mixing and Great Mixing

Transcript:

All right guys, Matthew Weiss, www.weiss-sound.com and www.theproaudiofiles.com. I got a really cool one for you today. We are basically going to be delving into the process of what separates good mixing from great mixing. Great mixing is musical. Good music is technical. Both are important. Technical means getting balances right, getting imaging right, making the things punch and do what you want them to do. Musicality is following the sound of the music, understanding what’s there and enhancing that or turning the things down that are non-musical. Let’s give a little listen to this track right here.

[music]

It’s got a cool boom-bap, break beat kind of vibe. I like it. Anyway I’ve felt that even while I already pre-treated everything, it’s technically correct, I feel like it could be a little more interesting and more exciting. So, I’m going to flip this out of bypass and play it again.

[beat]

I’m going to flip it in and out just so you can hear the difference because it’s subtle.

[music]

Right, it suddenly comes to life and in a much more, musical way. Well, what I’m doing is I’m enhancing on the idea of phrasing. The bump-ba-do-ba- do-ba-dump-ba-do-ba-do-ba-dump-ba-do-ba-do-ba-di-bi-di-bidump. That’s the phrase and so there are components to this phrase. When we break down the sample.

[song]

We have this brass band hit that happens on the down beats and then we’ve got a solo, well it sounds like an alto sax coming in and doing that do-do- do-do/do-do-do- do-da-dump, the lead line basically. I wanted to enhance that dynamic more so what I did is I grabbed an equalizer and I set it so that as it plays it’s automated.

[music]

On the down beats I have this 870 Hz turned up by over six decibels. That’s that “doump” that’s coming out. So, every time that down beat hits, the 80 Hz pops out. Now, when it switches over to the lead line here, I found the timbre of the alto sax, the tone that made the alto sax really pop out and just while the alto sax is playing that lead line, I have that boosted up by almost 5 dB.

These are fairly dramatic boosts but because they’re switching in and out, they’re not constant, you can get away with doing a little bit more. So, now it’s more 80 Hz on the down beat, more, what, 2.3k on the lead lines and it switches back and forth so not only are we enhancing that phrasing, but we’re also creating a tonal contrast, which makes the entire thing way more interesting.

Anyway, the lesson to take away from all of this is when you’re constructing your music and doing your mix-down, think in terms of musicality. What are the dynamics of the record and how can I bring that out. All right guys. ‘Til next time.

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com.
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