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Top Tips for Mixing Music

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 4/15/2011

Mixing music involves technical skills and a really good ear. All your technical know-how will be for naught if you don't know what kind of music you like and what it sounds like.

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    Music Mixing Mixing music is a lot more complicated than just simply recording audio and editing it. The quality of sound and the overall feel of the music produced is a product of a good ear, a good grasp of the emotional message of the music and some technical skills. Here are some tips on mixing audio files to produce great music.

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    Good Ear

    You have to know what kind of music you want. Determine the elements of the kind of music you want like the instruments, the vocals and the effects so you will have a clear idea of how you can go about your mixing process and the sound you are going for. You can do this by listening to the music that you like and analyzing everything that you like about it. Having a clear idea of what kind of music you are aiming for is the first and most important step in the mixing process. It makes things easier for you in terms of workflow, and if you successfully achieve the sound you want, the process becomes more fulfilling.

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    The Right Equipment and Software

    The right music mixing equipment does not have to be the most expensive. There are recording and mixing equipment and software out there that are reasonably priced and offer great sound quality. You just have to keep your eyes open for these great buys. A little testing and some trial and error may be required to settle on the right equipment and software for you so patience is needed. You can't settle on just any microphone, speaker or audio editing software. However, once you have the determined the equipment that gives you the best sound and the software that gives you the best work flow and set of features, everything will now depend on how you use these tools to achieve the sound you want.

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    Make sure that the sounds you are recording are of the greatest quality possible. Adjusting the input level, whether you do it at the source or at the recording software, is key to having great material that you can use in your mixing tasks. Poor quality recordings will not serve you well even if you have the skills to mix music and the best equipment. You have to ensure the optimum quality of the audio you will be working on to ensure the best quality sound will be used in your mixes.

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    In the actual music mixing process, the first thing you need to do is put every setting in neutral. This means no effects are on and no adjustments are applied. You start clean so what you hear from the audio you are working on is its default sound. From there, you are now capable of determining what kind of effects you need to apply and what modifications you need to make to the sound to achieve your musical goal.

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    Learn all the features of you mixer and play around with it to the point where you know every single feature at your disposal. This way, you can explore all possibilities in mixing music and you can achieve the best sounding music you can possibly produce.

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    Sound on Sound,


    Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution License / Supplied by Etranoise