Mixing explained #1 – Basic Mixing Theory

Hey whats up,
it’s Wick for WickieMedia tutorials. And today is going to be the first episode that
I’m going to be talking about mixing. So let’s start off with the very basics
before we’re going to be diving into mixing consoles and just look at the
basics of mixing music. Let’s take a quick look at the recording
process. When we’re recording a song, all the
individual instruments get recorded separately onto a track. The very first recordings were all done mono that means we could only play it back over one speaker and it was captured with just one microphone So in order to create a balance between the individual instruments we had to move the musicians throughout the room So if someone would have played a solo,
they had to step up and walk towards the microphone. Going back to modern times, where most of the people listen to their music
over two speakers or over headphones we’re now working towards a stereo mixdown. Even if you’re doing electronic music
this is still theory that’s gonna apply to you… Let’s take a band that we’re going to be
recording and mixing. We’ve got a drum-kit We’ve got a bass player we’ve got two guitar players.
we’ve got a keyboard player and we’ve got a small brass section.
we’re going to be placing a microphone in front of every instrument. Every microphone is
transmitting a mono-signal which is being fed into the mixing console where we
take care of the levels, and that’s being sent to tape. Of course this is now mainly done on the
computer, so we’re recording it inside a computer. But i’m a still going to be using the
reference of the tape machine a lot just for the simplicity of understanding
signal flow. So the band has played their song and
now we have recorded eight separate tracks of their instruments. Now we’re going to start with the mix-
phase and we’re basically going to be fitting the whole band into two speakers.
I’m a drawing an illustration right here that’s going to represent that.
We’re going to be fitting everything between the left and the right speaker and we
should visualize a three-dimensional space in between those speakers where
we’re going to be placing our mix in. We can move instruments forward and
backward by changing the volume, or fader-riding. This is basically moving
sounds over the Z-axis. With the pan-knob on each channel we can
move them from left and right between our speakers. when we are panning sounds in the middle it
means that they come just as loud out of the left speaker as out of the right
speaker. We than talk about panning sounds into
the phantom-image, because on a stereo-mix we don’t have any speakers in the centre. We can kind of place instruments
over the vertical axis with the means of frequency. Assuming that the bass is low
and the treble is high. That means that we can basically now
visualize our whole mix in 3d-space. So this illustration makes the
concept of placing the sounds into a 3d environment a lot more
understandable. Let’s take a look at how we can illustrate
some mixes. Let’s start off with the simple
eight-track recording that we’ve just done. Normally when we’re mixing we
are using the audiences view as our perspective. We had two guitar players which were
standing at both sides of the room so it would be nice to kind of pan the first
guitar a little bit to the left and the second one a little bit to the right. This will create a little bit of space
in our mix and it will reflect the way that it was. A good rule of thumb is that we
always want bass frequencies to come out of the center… So the kick drum and the bass-line will
be placed in the center, or the phantom image. The keys were on the left side of the room
and the brass section was on the right side so we’re going to pan that accordingly
as well. This is already creating a very rich
stereo image. So let’s take a look at some styles of mixing that we can apply… Here we can see a very open and defined
mix. The gaps in between the instruments can
be filled up with a little bit of reverb. This can create like an aura
around an instrument… This is something which is really open and defined
so it could fit very well for a jazz-mix for example.. Right here we have a more commercial type of mix
which we would call ‘the wall of sound’. The focus on these types of mixes
normally lays on the vocals, which seem to be kind of like in front of the band
or at least in front of the music. So a lot of commercial productions
either it being pop or dance or hip-hop or even a pop/rock type of song this
type of mixing style is applied a lot. If we’re going to take a look at more
underground productions you can see that the vocals are
not that upfront as in these commercial- types of mixes. So it could very well be
that the mix that you’re going for doesn’t have to have your vocals really
upfront like in a commercial type of product. You should go for this sound that fits
your song and the type of production. So when we start off with a mix it
kind of looks like this… You can see that that everything is
still in the middle and also frequency-wise it’s definitely still like a mess. So we’re going to start with the volume
and the panning and place all the instruments where we
want them to be. You can see this already cleans up a lot and makes
a lot of things more defined and separated. When theres still too much overlapping
frequencies and we needed to define something a little
bit more we can than filter off some of the frequencies that we don’t need,
and highlight some of the frequencies that we need to give a little bit of extra
sparkle with the use of an equalizer. When the dynamics of certain instruments
are fluctuating too much, like for example on the bass or on the snare, and
we want to tame those peaks we can use a compressor to make sure that these stay
in balance a little bit better. The next video is going to be an
in-depth tutorial about mixing consoles and we’re going to look at the signal
flow and a lot of commonly found functions and knobs that we will run into. And after that we’re going to be
applying all that stuff into creating some mixes. And were going to start off with some eight-track
mixes, sixteen track mixes, from there on we’re going to go to twenty-four track
mixes and even a lot higher. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first tutorial, which
was an introduction to the beautiful world of mixing. Where so many things are
possible once you just know how to. And i’m going to be teaching you a
lot of that stuff in the upcoming tutorials So i hope you’ve enjoyed it, I hope you have learned
something and I hope to see yall soon… Peace!

100 thoughts on “Mixing explained #1 – Basic Mixing Theory

  1. Just imagined somebody carrying their guitar amp when “stepping up” on the guitar solo or the drummer carrying their drum kit back and forward when doing a drum roll. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it happen. I think they would position in the studio in a specific way to have a balanced sound not people moving back and forward

  2. I'm a home-based producer, musician and singer and trying to mix my songs has been a huge difficulty. A friend of mine who actually studied music production in college told me about this and I have been struggling to find this video for the longest time. I love every bit of it and I'm going to start applying it to songs that I mix after I finish recording and producing. I have very good arrangements and productions but the mixing stage always seems to dump my work into the trash and it discourages me. If anyone else has other suggestions to help with mixing at home I would greatly appreciate it. Any links to videos or channels or even books online that I can read about would make all the difference. Thank you so much for this video. Awesome awesome awesome!

  3. I was about to start a chanel on mixing but now I realize there's no point on doing that. I'll just share this beautiful content

  4. This is must watch for anyone who wants to use a DAW. Holy shit. The explanation of the 3D room with a literal band inside it explains so much.

  5. Thank you, I tried watching a lot of videos on this topic, and most of them were, as you said, overcomplicated. This was simple and straightforward.

  6. I'm not so good at English but your explanation is really easy to understand !! Only 1 thing about Phantom-panning
    Can someone explain it 1 more time ?? really really appreciated

  7. Holy fuck. The visual representation of how to conduct a studio or live mix was serious!
    Hell yeah dude, this is dope 👌👌

  8. Such a fantastic introduction! All crystal clear and easily comprehensible in just under 6 minutes. Liked and subscribed.

  9. Question: this is a grey area in my opionion, but what if a mixer adds a new snare and/or kick just to blend into the mix and have a stronger character, or make it sound heavier etc..? Is that still mixing?

  10. The graphics really help ground the concept, thanks for sticking to the point and building upon the material you lay out

  11. An absolutely, AMAZING, tutorial and very clear, concise and simple to understand for some of us! I definitely, look forward to reviewing more of your videos 🙂

  12. You didn't mention how and why you were using eight separate tracks when you started using one microphone for each of seven players. Is there a vocalist or perhaps an extra mic for the bass drum?

  13. I've been mixing for 2 years now, and I still come back to this video, just to get the satisfaction of watching these images. This is also the video I show to everyone, who's just starting out mixing. This video let alone will make beginners way better, way faster.

  14. This video raised the bar so high that, even an entire university stuff can not compete the clearness of this course.

  15. You should actually pan everything last cus keeping them in the middle while eqing will make it easier to pinpoint frequencies that interfere with frequencies in other instruments and it will make you song sound good in both mononand stereo

  16. Best video ever… The graphics and visuals make it so much easier to understand why we need to pan and eq and compress etc…

  17. Bredda mi love this video so much info made simple yu a di best teacher ever good video. Hold a jamaica big up!!!!

  18. Looool and i found that video now??? Not earlier. Thx man best mixing vif if ever seen this will help me alot. And cool that u show it so understandly. Thx

  19. I enjoyed this introduction to the process of mixing very much.  It was very clear and easy to understand, without 'talking down' to the audience.   I am interested in this as I have a YouTube channel in which we tell scary and mystery stories, and I am often interested by how the sound engineer seems to be able to make sounds that "creep around" in the recording.  Huw from 'The Black Dog Chronicles'.

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