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Today’s quick tip is a discussion on the benefits of starting your mix in mono.

Don’t touch a pan pot for as long as you can bear it! You’ll notice much more space in your mix as a result. Also, any phase issues will be much more apparent and easy to remedy.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Transcript »

Hey guys! Dezz Asante here once again from the TechMuzeAcademy with another MixLessons.com video quick tip. Today I want to talk about a…I guess a spin on a technique that I like to use when considering my mix. And that is to mix for as long as you can without touching your paners. So, in other words keeping everything in mono for as long as you can.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, it’s really quite simple. I found that in my experience it’s a lot easier for me to hear when I have frequency competition and masking and level imbalances when everything is coming straight down the center.

So, what I do when I typically start my mix, is I’ll throw all my faders up. I’ll get a rough general balance with the faders. Again, everything is down the center, pans in the center. And once I’ve gotten my rough level balance, then I’ll start digging into my EQ to sort of …you know tame…typically it’s subtractive. So, what I’m doing in the first pass is listening through each track while they’re all playing together and removing elements of the frequency spectrum from individual elements of the arrangement that I find are obtrusive or just a little too much over the top or taking away from something else in the mix.

In particular I pay a lot of close attention to the low frequency content because its oftentimes more difficult to get just right. So, I’ll be listening…you know to my base and  kick drum and how they interact with one another. I’ll be using high pass filters on a lot of tracks to roll off low frequency content that’s not musically relevant to the track that is on. So, I’ll be doing a lot of subtractive EQ first and then after I’m feeling pretty confident with the EQ curves in a subtractive sense of my elements, then I’ll turn my attention to compression and I’ll use my compressors to sort of level out any spicky transients that are not condusive to the presention. I’ll start using compression in situations where I’m trying to bring up low level content, not low frequency content, low level content. I’m trying to bring to the foreground, a vocal for example some of the breathy elements, some of the softer breathy aspects of a voice which oftentimes really draw the listeners’ attention to the emotional aspect of the singer. I use compression to bring those to the surface.

And so at this point, I’ve got…and of course all the while I’m readjusting my faders to maintain a certain balance because when you try to remove frequency content and apply dynamics processing such as compression your levels will change. So, I’m constantly going back readjusting my faders. When I’ve got it to the point when everything sounds tight clean there’s a …I can sort of distinguish each of the elements by ear at that point I’ll hit my paners and I’ll start to spread things out along the horizontal dimension in my mix. It’s always a point in the mix that I look forward to because once you got everything balance levelwise and you know frequency based and with your dynamic processing. As soon as you open up those pan positions it’s like the whole mix, the whole sound stage erupts in front of you.

And it’s a point in the mix process that I enjoy thoroughly because you really get a sense of gratification once you start to spread those things out. Now, as you start to pan things to the left and to the right and so forth sometimes again you’ll have to revisit your faders and just adjust levels appropriately because they’re no longer on top of each other. There’s space between them so sometimes you can afford to bring up a DB or two or maybe something needs to come down or what have you. So, you doing a constant sort of revisiting of your fader levels but that whole starting good a chunk of your static mix without touching the panners I find …allows me to get to a cohesive mix much, much quicker. So, something I encourage you to experment with. I hope you enjoy that little quick tip. And of course as always, I’ll see you on the next one!

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