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Mixing a Song From Start to Finish

Give your music a professional sound with this step-by-step guide
4.6 (35 ratings)
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174 students enrolled
Created by Matt Hayes
Last updated 8/2016
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  • 8 hours on-demand video
  • 7 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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Mixing music can be an overwhelming job sometimes.  This course aims to break down the task of mixing in to it's basic steps.  Students can follow along with the instructor by downloading the provided audio files and mixing the same song as the instructor used for the lectures.  

This course should take several weeks to complete.  Allow yourself enough time to digest the material before focusing on the next topic.  "Mixing a Song From Start to Finish" is structured to cover the process of mixing a song from the first step to the final step in order.  

If you have tried mixing before, and know the basics of audio engineering, you are the perfect candidate for this class.  It's time to take your skills to the next level!

Who is the target audience?
  • This music mixing course is meant for audio engineers, producers, artists and musicians who are looking to take their songs to the "next level." Some prior experience mixing music is assumed. This course is probably not for you if you've never tried to mix a song before.
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What Will I Learn?
create a pop style mix that is ready for mastering
edit and pitch correct vocals
use effects such as equalizers, compressors, noise gates, reverb, delay and modulation properly
setup submix routing
use automation to change elements in a song
View Curriculum
  • Download the audio files (I will walk you through this in the 2nd lecture).
  • You will need some kind of mixing software (i.e. Pro Tools, Logic, Nuendo, Reaper, FL Studio, Audacity, etc.) Avid's Pro Tools software is used for the lectures in this course.
  • And you will need a good quality playback system (speakers and headphones) in order to mix.
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 39 Lectures Collapse All 39 Lectures 08:41:35
Introduction and Getting Started
3 Lectures 26:55

Welcome to "Mixing a Song From Start to Finish!"  Please take a moment to check out an overview of what will be covered in the course.

Preview 03:41

This course is set up so that you can follow along in your own studio while mixing the same song as the instructor.  There is a zip file included with this lecture containing the tracked out audio files for you to use.  This video provides the step by step process to import the files and get started.

Preview 06:38

Once the files are imported into your music software, it's a good idea to organize everything to accommodate your workflow.  

Organizing the Session
Basic Effects
4 Lectures 46:38

Effects are our tools of the trade when it comes to mixing.  Learn the most important effects to master as a mix engineer.

Basic Effects Introduction

Equalizers might be the most powerful tool in a mix engineer's arsenal.  This effect is probably used more than any other effect.  So this lecture dives in to how equalizers function.

EQ Basics

Noise gates can be very helpful for clearing out extraneous noise from a track.  When trying to achieve clarity in a mix, often times the focus should be on removing sounds.  Understanding how a noise gate functions is the first step to using them properly.

Noise Gate Basics

One of the most misunderstood effects used when mixing is compression.  It can be difficult to hear, but is very important when mixing.  The first step to using compressors and limiters properly is knowing how they function.

Compressor Basics

Use this short quiz as a review for the concepts covered in the "Basic Effects" section of the course.

Quiz on Basic Effects
8 questions
Parallel Effects
4 Lectures 39:02

Not all effects should be added directly to the track.  Some are routed to a different channel (aux) in order to blend the effect with the unaffected signal.  Using this "parallel" routing also allows you to send more than one track to the same effect.

Parallel Effects Introduction

Reverb can add a sense of depth and realism to a sound, or give it an ethereal tone.  When used well, reverb can have a significant impact on the overall emotion of a song.  This lecture will help you master the main controls found on reverb effects.

Reverb Basics

Delay is basically a rhythmic echo blended with a track.  Yet this simple effect can create some intense results.  In this video you will learn how to go about setting a delay effect.

Preview 07:53

Modulation effects, such as chorus and flanger, are other parallel routed effects that use delay to create a different result.  This video digs in to how these effects work, and how to apply them.

Chorus and Flanger Basics

Use this short quiz as a review on the concepts covered in the "Parallel Effects" section of the course.

Quiz on Parallel Effects
5 questions
5 Lectures 01:01:36

You have to start somewhere, and the static mix is the first step for mixing a song.  

Intro - Static Mix

Often times, mixing a song requires editing the audio files in some way.  This section is dedicated to some of the common edits done on vocals.  

Preview 17:02

There is a lot of software out there used for pitch correction.  This lecture takes a look at the Melodyne plug-in.  

Tuning Vocals: Part 1

There is a lot of software out there used for pitch correction.  This lecture takes a look at the Auto-Tune plug-in.  

Tuning Vocals: Part 2

There is a lot of software out there used for pitch correction.  This lecture takes a look at the Waves Tune plug-in.  

Tuning Vocals: Part 3

Quiz on Editing
6 questions
Mixing Instruments
7 Lectures 01:24:37

This section applies the basic and parallel effects to drums and percussion.  This is the first of three videos showing mixing techniques for drums.

Drums: Part1

This section applies the basic and parallel effects to drums and percussion.  This is the second of three videos showing mixing techniques for drums.

Drums: Part2

This section applies the basic and parallel effects to drums and percussion.  This is the last of three videos showing mixing techniques for drums.

Drums: Part3

Getting the low end of a mix to sound clean and powerful can be difficult.  This lecture looks at some techniques for making the bass more powerful and balancing it with the kick drum.


One of the most common instruments found in modern music, guitars require a subtle touch most of the time.  They can often get in the way of vocals (and other instruments) when mixing.  This video shows some techniques for applying the basic and parallel effects for creating a good tone on electric guitars.  

Electric Guitars

Listening to your mix on as many different speakers and headphones as possible is always beneficial.  It offers different perspectives on how the mix actually sounds.  This lecture talks about that and a few other tips for creating a professional sounding song.

Tips For Mixing

Mixing a song requires lots of little tweaks to your settings as you work.  Coming back to the studio after listening to your work on different playback systems requires some changes to be made.  This video talks about what to listen for and how to implement the changes that your mix needs.

Adjusting the Mix

Quiz on Mixing
4 questions
Mixing Vocals
13 Lectures 03:02:34

Vocals are probably the most important element when mixing.  They are the focus of the music, and the hook is the focus of the song.  So, the vocals in the hook are the most important element to get right in the mix.

Lead Hook Vocals

How can you get the background vocals to stand out while not getting in the way of the lead vocals?  There are many techniques for this, and this video illustrates one approach.

Background Hook Vocals

This lecture focuses on how to use EQ, noise gates, and compression on vocals.

Using Basic Effects on Vocals

This lecture focuses on how to use reverb, delay, and other parallel effects on vocals.

Using Parallel Effects on Vocals

In this video you will learn how to mix using a subgroup on an aux input.

Background Verse Vocals: Part 1

Continuing on with mixing the background vocals of the verses, this lecture addresses using EQ to remove resonant frequencies.  Additionally, chorus and reverb are utilized in parallel routing.

Background Verse Vocals: Part 2

Subgroups are a handy approach to dealing with numerous vocal tracks.  This video shows another approach to submixing on aux inputs, as well as some basic automaton of effects.  

Pre Hook Vocals: Part 1

More application of mixing with subgroups, equalizers, limiters, stereo imaging, and reverb.

Pre Hook Vocals: Part 2

Rap vocals require a little bit different approach in the mix than singing vocals.  They usually have a more aggressive tone, with more compression and less reverb.  This lecture addresses using compression, EQ, de-essing, limiting and pitch-shift effects on rap vocals.

Rap Vocals: Part 1

Finishing up with the lead rap vocals, this video looks at applying reverb and delay effects.  And beyond that, automation is applied to these effects.  

Rap Vocals: Part 2

Background vocals should stand out from the lead vocals, but not distract from the lead.  You can use some different settings on your basic effects like EQ and compression to give them a different sonic quality.  Then add a different reverb and/or delay setting to help them stand out from the lead at a lower volume.  

Background Rap Vocals

Automation is an important and powerful tool for mixing.  It helps to create movement, dynamics, and changes in texture as a song progresses.  In this lecture you will see how to apply more automation in a mix.


Again, listening to your mix on as many different speakers and headphones as possible is always beneficial.  It offers different perspectives on how the mix actually sounds.  At this point it is time to reference the mix on some different playback systems again.  The mix version bounced from this video is available for download for you to reference.

The Car Test

Quiz on Mixing Vocals
8 questions
Finishing the Mix
3 Lectures 42:13

One more final tweak before completing the mix.

Final Mix Adjustments

"To master or not to master?  That is the question."

Printing Final Mixes

Synopsis of the concepts revealed in this course.

Final Review
About the Instructor
4.6 Average rating
75 Reviews
302 Students
3 Courses
Recording and Mixing Engineer

Audio Instructor at SAE Institute of Technology

BBA, Florida International University

Avid Certified Pro Tools Instructor

Waves Audio Certified

Certified Higher Education Professional from NASASPS

I have been involved in the music industry for 15 years, and engineering (recording and mixing) for 10 years. Originally, I started out as a musician before becoming involved behind the scenes in recording studios. I have worked in many different genres of music through the years, and I am a voting member for the Grammy Awards.

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