Mixing for Music Producers

Get your tracks radio-ready with this comprehensive guide to mixing for producers.
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Instructed by Dylan Bowes Music / Production
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  • Lectures 47
  • Contents Video: 6.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 6/2015 English

Course Description

This course is a comprehensive guide to mixing for music producers.

At the end of this course, your tracks will be transformed into radio-ready, commercial quality songs which you can pitch to labels, contests, or simply release for your fans.

I created this course because I wish someone had taught me these principles when I was just getting started producing music. I had spent all of my time learning about synthesizers, recording live instruments, drum programming, and audio unit processing. I had a pretty good knack for making cool sounds and composing songs, but once all of the elements were piled together, more often than not it sounded like a jumbled mess. It was nowhere near the clarity and punch I heard on the radio or professional tracks that I loved.

It was at that point I realized that I needed to develop my mixing skills in order to be a truly good producer.

That's why I created this course -- to save you the trouble and headache I experienced when trying to produce music without a good foundation in the principles of mixing.

This course will take you from a good producer to a great one.

It is true that the roles of mix engineer and producer are different. However, in these days of home recording and DAW-based music production, these roles will often overlap significantly.

In this course I will teach you all of the tools and tricks of professional mix engineers so that you can make your tracks shine with the commercial punch and clarity labels and fans want to hear.

We'll cover every aspect of mixing including: room acoustics, monitoring, mix preparation, equalization, compression, audio time and pitch editing, automation, plugin processing, return effects, and everything else in between.

Using 45 high definition video lectures, I'll walk you through the entire process of mixing from exporting your tracks all the way down to the exporting for mastering stage.

We'll be using Logic Pro X in this course. What if you use a different DAW? Well, this course is all about the theory, practice, and process of mixing. I teach you how to listen to your tracks, what to listen for, and how to creatively solve problems that may come up. Obviously, users of Logic will have a slight advantage since many of the tools we use will most likely be familiar. However, the concepts and techniques apply to every DAW so don't dismay if you are not a Logic user.

Even if you're sending off your tracks to a mix engineer, you don't want him or her to make all of your creative decisions. Being fluent in the language and technique of mixing will make you a vastly better producer.

Sign up for this course today and transform your productions into the commercial quality you've been aiming for.

What are the requirements?

  • Any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Mix a song in any genre
  • Export a production session for mixdown
  • Prepare a mix session with naming, organization, and color coding
  • Set up submix routing
  • Achieve a static mix with fader balancing
  • Shape tone with EQ and avoid frequency masking
  • Apply compression for dynamic balance
  • Choose and apply plugins for maximum impact
  • Use automation to create a dynamic mix
  • Prepare a mix for mastering

What is the target audience?

  • Music Producers
  • DJs
  • Songwriters

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: WELCOME
04:34

In this lecture, I provide a brief introduction to the course style, structure and approach.

A few things to remember:

  1. Feel free to post any questions, comments, or concerns in the discussion area for each lecture. I try to answer all questions within 1-2 days.
  2. Once you've gotten a feel for the course, please take a minute to rate and/or review the course. This helps prospective students know what they're getting into!
  3. Don't skip the quizzes. They give you a chance to reinforce what you've learned at the end of the section.
  4. Have fun, learn, and grow. We're all here to learn together so have fun and work hard!

Oh, and you can find out a bit more about me in the external resources below. Stay in touch!

Section 2: THE LISTENING ENVIRONMENT
04:26

In this lecture I touch briefly on the basic goals you should set for your listening environment. This includes where in the room you position your mixing desk, where your speakers should be located, and how to set up acoustic treatment.

Check out the articles in the external resources for more information on these topics!

06:53

In this lecture I touch briefly on some basic goals for monitoring including common monitoring pitfalls, using secondary "bad" monitors, and making your mix work with whatever monitor setup you have. After all, mixing is all about listening well; therefore we need to make monitoring decisions that will help us become better listeners.

04:00

In this lecture I'll explain the importance of using reference tracks to give you a proper perspective on your mix. By choosing high quality, professional mixes to reference along side your own mix, you can set a high bar for your mix and constantly check your mix along with the reference track to make sure you're headed in the right direction.

The Listening Environment Quiz
3 questions
Section 3: MIX PREPARATION
09:04

In this lecture I explain why it is important to start a new mix session for your song, rather than simply mixing inside your main production project. I'll also show you how to export your production session as a folder of raw WAV files for import into your mix session.

04:07

In this lecture I show you how to import your audio files into your new mix session.

07:04

In this lecture I explain how to name your tracks and audio regions. I also include some of my own naming standards I've developed over the years and I explain why it is critical to develop consistent naming standards. Finally, I explain how to create icons for your tracks to better see what you're working with.

07:07

In this lecture I show you how to color code your tracks. First, we'll organize our tracks by instrument type, then we'll set colors for each group of instruments to getter a better visual setup. I also explain why it is important to color "problem" areas or tracks that you want to feature in your mix.

04:14

In this lecture I show you how to remove silence from your audio regions using two different techniques. The first is to manually cut out silence periods using the marquee tool. The second is to use Logic's Strip Silence Engine to quickly and effectively remove silence in one step. I'll explain the pros and cons of both approaches.

04:48

In this lecture I show you how and why we set up markers for the song arrangement in our mix session. I'll explain the several different ways to quickly and efficiently create markers.

06:10

In this lecture I explain multing and I also explain why and when to use it. Multing is the process of splitting out a track into multiple tracks in order to process them differently. I'll provide a few examples of when you might want to use multing and how it can prove extremely helpful in your mix.

07:49

In this lecture I show you why and how we set up submix routing. Submix routing allows you to group your different tracks into types such as drums, bass, guitars, etc., and then process those groups using a single submix bus for each.

The Mix Preparation Quiz
8 questions
Section 4: BALANCING
13:20

In this lecture we'll finally start to mix! I'll show you how to get a static mix, which is simply a good balance of all of your tracks. We'll start by balancing the tracks in each submix and then blend them together. I'll also explain the value of working toward a static mix and what it can reveal about further processing needs.

03:43

In this lecture I explain a few additional considerations in balancing. I describe some of the most common orders when creating a static mix. I also explain why you might choose to do some quick high-pass filtering at this stage.

10:00

In this lecture I show you how and why to use panning. I explain why setting different pan positions for your tracks will enhance each track's position in the mix and also help to widen the stereo field. I explain LCR panning and I also show you how to pair up tracks for panning left and right.

The Balancing Quiz
3 questions
Section 5: EQUALIZATION
02:30

In this lecture I explain how your static mix stage will point you toward your EQ processing needs. I give several examples of how your static mix stage will reveal tracks that require some equalization treatment.

09:43

In this lecture I thoroughly explain the Channel EQ plugin. I'll walk you through the various filter types inside the plugin including the high- and low-pass filters, parametric filters, and the shelf filters. I'll also show you how to read the graphic window. I'll describe the frequency, bandwidth (or "Q") and gain parameters. I'll also describe Q-coupling and how to understand the analyzer readout.

08:11

In this lecture, I show you how we can use EQ to shape the tone of your tracks by creating boosts and cuts to the frequency spectrum.

10:23

In this lecture I show you how to use subtractive equalization in order to remove unwanted frequencies from your tracks. I explain how to locate unwanted frequency bands and remove them using notched parametric filters.

10:18

In this lecture I explain the third and most important use of equalization which is to avoid or minimize frequency masking. We use EQ on our tracks primarily to ensure that different tracks with similar frequency content do not step on each other's toes and fit into the mix properly.

10:51

In this lecture I explain the third and most important use of equalization which is to avoid or minimize frequency masking. We use EQ on our tracks primarily to ensure that different tracks with similar frequency content do not step on each other's toes and fit into the mix properly.

The EQ Quiz
7 questions
Section 6: COMPRESSION
03:25

In this lecture I provide a brief introduction to compression. We'll go back to the static mix and I'll explain how our static mix stage reveals tracks that may require some dynamics processing.

16:12

In this lecture I give you a detailed explanation of the compressor plugin native to Logic. I describe all of the parameters and controls available inside the plugin and how you can use them when doing your dynamics processing. Although compression could occupy an entire course, I give you a solid foundation on compression so that you can be confident in your use of compression in your mixes.

15:13

In this lecture we dive deeper into the concept of compression by using a compressor on our lead vocals. I provide an in-depth explanation of how to set the compressor threshold, attack and release times, and ratio to even out the dynamics of the vocal performance.

10:24

In this lecture I show you how you can use sidechain compression as a mix tool. Sidechain compression is when you use another audio source as the "key" to tell the compressor to reduce the gain on a track. In our example, we'll use sidechain compression on the live bass track with the kick drum as the key input. This helps avoid frequency masking between the kick and the bass and also increases the perceived tightness of these two instruments.

11:18

In this lecture I explain how and when we use expansion to increase the dynamic range of a track. Expansion is basically the opposite of compression. We can use the expander plugin to reduce the gain of the lower levels in a track, while increasing the gain of the higher levels. I'll provide a few examples of how we can use this plugin to clean up some of the business in our percussion section.

15:02

In this lecture I explain how and when we can use the noise gate as yet another mix tool during our dynamics processing. Similar to the Expander, the Noise Gate allows us to completely mute the sections of a track which have a lower gain. I'll show you how we can use a noise gate on a loop track to reduce the business of that track while keeping the essential elements of the track.

07:17

In this lecture I show you how to set up a compressor on our drum submix. This allows all of the different drum tracks to "glue" together nicely. I explain what to listen for when using this technique and how to maintain the punch of all of the elements while still creating a cohesive drum sound.

The Compression Quiz
6 questions
Section 7: SWEETENING
15:31

In this lecture I show you how to create return effects. There are three main benefits to using busses as return effects channels. First, we save CPU power by sending tracks to effects busses rather than having five effect plugins on every track in the session. Second, we save time by creating a few important return channels and sending our tracks to them. Finally, we create consistent space by using the same return channel for multiple tracks.

06:32

In this lecture I show you how to duck return effects using sidechain compression. Ducking ensures that our return effects (e.g. delay on the lead vocals) do not interfere with the clarity of the dry vocal track.

07:55

In this lecture I show you how to create a drum "room" by sending the drum submix to a reverb bus. Using this technique we can emulate a drum room microphone as a return effect channel and blend it with the dry signal.

05:32

In this lecture I show you how to enhance the stereo image of our vocoder track using the rotor cabinet plugin. In this simple example, I explain how to listen for problems in the mix and how to creatively solve them. Our vocoder track is lost in the mix due to the centrality of the lead vocals. We can use the rotor cabinet to create a bit of natural stereo imaging which provides a better home for the vocoder and increases its clarity next to the lead vocals.

09:37

In this lecture I demonstrate a classic yet powerful way to widen out a single lead vocal track using pitch-shifted delays. I show you how to set up two sends from the lead vocals and then use two different delays and pitch-shifters on those two return channels.

06:24

In this lecture I show you how to use a simple overdrive plugin to even out the dynamics of the snare track. This has the added benefit of enhancing the harmonic content of the snare and increasing its "body." Again, this is another example of listening for problems in the mix and using creative processing to solve them.

14:12

In this lecture I show you a very advanced technique used for blending the guitars and the vocals. We will set up a return effect from the guitar submix with a noise gate and a gain plugin. We then use the vocal submix as the sidechain input on the gate and invert the polarity of the return channel. This allows us to open the gate when the vocals are present and send a phase-inverted guitar signal back to the mix, which will reduce the gain of the guitars just a bit when the vocals are present because of phase-cancellation.

The Sweetening Quiz
5 questions
Section 8: AUDIO EDITING
10:09

In this lecture I provide a brief introduction to the concept of audio editing by explaining when and why to edit your audio tracks. I show you what to listen for and how to address audio editing in an efficient way to enhance the professionalism of your mix without losing the natural feel of the song.

15:09

In this lecture I provide a solid foundation for the Flex Time engine, which is Logic's tool for editing the timing of audio regions. I'll show you how to enable Flex Time, how to choose the proper algorithm for the audio type, and how to edit transients using the tools inside Flex Time.

08:38

In this lecture I provide a detailed explanation of the Flex Pitch engine, which is Logic's tool for editing the pitch of audio regions. I'll show you how to listen for pitch problems and how to address them. I'll also walk you through all of the Flex Pitch tools including vibrato, pitch drift, gain, and fine pitch.

12:09

In this lecture I provide a detailed explanation of the Flex Pitch engine, which is Logic's tool for editing the pitch of audio regions. I'll show you how to listen for pitch problems and how to address them. I'll also walk you through all of the Flex Pitch tools including vibrato, pitch drift, gain, and fine pitch.

07:13

In this lecture I provide a bit more detail on the fade tool including how to create crossfades, fade outs and fade ins, and how to change the curve of your fades.

05:45

In this lecture I demonstrate another powerful audio editing tool which is the speed up and slow down. I'll show you how to create these effects using the fade tool and when it may be appropriate to use them.

The Audio Editing Quiz
4 questions
Section 9: AUTOMATION
08:11

In this lecture I explain why automation is important for creating a more dynamic mix. I'll show you how to determine which tracks or sections require automation and also how to create that automation with the example of a volume reduction on a guitar track.

14:25

In this lecture I provide a few more examples of using automation in order to create a dynamic mix. I'll show you how to use mute automation on the bell track as well as automating parameters within the Channel EQ plugin. We'll also tackle the concept of using multiple automation parameters within the same track.

The Automation Quiz
3 questions
Section 10: FINISHING UP
08:24

In this lecture I explain how to determine whether your mix is finished or not. I'll show you my simple (yet surprisingly difficult) method for putting the finishing touches on the mix. I'll explain how I use a notepad to listen to my mix (without looking at it!) and make notes on what I need to change.

07:48

In this lecture I explain the "Car Test" as well as the "Friends & Family Test" which I use to determine whether my mix is finished. We use the car test to listen to our finished mix in the car which is a very common listening environment for our music consumers. We also send our mix to trusted friends and family to get their feedback on the mix.

07:14

In this lecture I show you how to export your mix for mastering. Whether you intend to send it off to be mastered or master it yourself, I'll show you the best practices for bouncing your mix to a high resolution WAV file. We'll cover all of the options in the "bounce" dialog including the settings for your WAV file and MP3 file.

Section 11: THANK YOU!
02:33

In this lecture I simply say "Thank You!" for joining us in this course. I hope you've learned a lot and that you will finish this course with a generous box of powerful tools to enhance your creativity and make more professional mixes.

I promise you that learning these mixing techniques will make you a better producer and musician and I'm confident that you will be creating better music than you ever have before.

A few things before I say goodbye:

  1. Don't forget to review the course! It is such a huge help for me and other students. Take a few seconds to rate the course today.
  2. Check out some of my other courses using the link below. I'm always adding new courses so stay tuned!
  3. Please ask any question or post any comment in the discussion area for each lecture. I've learned so much from my students and we always have beneficial discussions about these topics so get engaged!
Thanks again, you're the best!

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Instructor Biography

Dylan Bowes, Producer & Sound Designer

Dylan is a producer & sound designer in Los Angeles. He has taught music production and mixing techniques for more than four years.

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