Many songwriters today have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) of their own whether is Pro Tools, Logic, Abelton Live, or even Garage Band, etc. Yet mixing and mastering remains a fine art. With easy and affordable access to digital recording producing music at home has become a highly popular alternative to working in a traditional, more expensive music studio. Some say the quality of recorded music has suffered. Others would argue it’s a renaissance of new possibilities in audio production. Wherever you stand, if you have ever tried creating music at home, then you have probably come to you own unique conclusions about the process and what works best for you. You may find, for example, that you enjoy all aspects of producing. Or you may find that you’re less keen on certain aspects such engineering or running a Pro Tools session.
A common mixing consideration these days is whether to mix “in the box” or outside the box? Mixing “in the box” means all your signal processing, compression, reverb, effects, etc. is done digitally via your computer software. Outside the box would be considered the more traditional method in which you are mixing with true outboard gear rather than software emulation. It’s a controversial subject in the audio production world. Some multi-platinum producers such as Andrew Scheps mix totally “in the box” now which is a major shift for a producer of his stature — he’s not the only significant music producer to make this shift in recent years. This marks a trend of higher quality software plugs-in’s that are providing more and more realistic emulations of the real thing, and wide-scale adoption of their use due to also to affordability. But some would argue that the art of making records the old-fashioned way is the only way to go. Luckily there are some music producers such as Brian Burton (Danger Mouse), groups like the Dap Kings, and production houses like us here at Demo My Song (shameless plug) that still understand the value of making a record the “old-school” way and are working to keep that traditional alive.
There are lots of reasons why recording and mixing your songs “in the box” may or may not work for your style of music. What we have found is that “in the box” mixing works great in certain genres such as hip-hop and EDM. But for rock and pop genres we prefer to mix with some outboard gear. For this our most frequently used and classic piece of gear is the api 2500 compressor. It’s absolutely incredible what it does on a drum or piano mix.
Here are some quick tips for ANYONE who wants to improve their mixing enviroment. If you would like speak with one of our producers about mixing your song, don’t hesitate to reach out by phone or send us an email and we would be delighted to discuss your mixing project with you.
Check your mixes on multiple speakers or headphones and earbuds. Play the song in your car and compare it to your speakers at home. Try to create a mix that sounds best across all devices.
Consider the room that you are mixing in and where the speakers are placed. If possible, a rectangular room is much better than a square due to unwanted frequency buildup. Placing the speakers near the wall and firing out (the long way into room) at a 45 degree angle while sitting 1/3 of the distance between the two walls lengthwise is a good staring point.
Buy a few panels of Owens Corning 703 or 705 insulation, wrap them in fabric, and place in the corners of your mixing room. This is cheapest and most effective way to reduce bass frequencies – otherwise known as bass traps or wide-band diffusers.
Need to talk with a producer about mixing your song?