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Crash course in mix...
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Crash course in mixing?

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Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1120
Topic starter  

Hi all

I've been working a bit with recording myself lately.

I realise now how much there is to know... :roll:

I have a very simple setup - external soundcard into the laptop. Using audacity
Once I have everything recorded, can anyone give some general advice on what to do - such as

EQ - for voice, for guitar, for bass
Reverb -
Pan - what to put where, and how much

What to do first and last?
Anything else I should do?

Of course - it depends - but I'm not looking for anything very sophisticated or special - I'm just interested in making my recordings sound a bit more "finished" - just regular pop/blues stuff

Would I profit much from switching to qbase?

As you can see I'm lost - any help is greatly appreciated :)


...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349

Yes, Cubase would be a HUGE step up. For example, you can have a track running while you change the effect, that way you can much easier set things up. In audacity you have to process it, listen, undo, re-process, listen etc. Anyway, there are in my mind two kinds of mixing: 'authentic' and 'progressive'. With authentic mixing you try to make it sound like a band is really playing. That means that you imagine a venue with a stage, and place each instrument there as you'd expect: drums center, bass on one side, the guitar on the other, vocals in the center. Keep the reverb 'possible', if the drum has much more reverb then the vocals your mind will not see them as playing together but much more as individually mixed sounds. Using a slight master reverb at the end helps with this.

With compression you can do a number of things. I always run some compression on vocals because the dynamic range of the human voice is so great. Compressors can be used on guitars to increase sustain, fatten up the sound or place it stronger in the mix. Each part of the drumkit would probably need it's own compressor as they have different attacks. At the end a master compressor can 'blur' the tracks together into a more unified sound.

With the EQ (assuming your basic sound is ok) you give each track it's own place.For example, if you have vocals over a wall of sound, use a spectrum analyzer to see what the peak frequency is of the vocals and cut a whole at that frequency in the guitar track. That way the vocals are clear and the guitar sit tightly around it. Cubase has an integrated spectrum analyzer btw.

Anyway, this is just a short thing that came to mind, if you have specific questions just ask.

Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 14

Here's my CRASH course....

Of course a true DAW (digital audio workstation) like Cubase, ProTools, Logic would seriously help you out, but here are some good analogies I use in the classes I teach:

Mixing: Think of the "picture" you're creating with the music as a 3D cube and everything needs to fit in that cube. With the tools mentioned (eq, compression, pan, volume, coloring effects) you create a 3D space where ideally the instruments all have their own "space."

I like to relate the music and more importantly the individual tracks to that of a garden hose (think of the sound as the "water"). Things like eq and compression serve as the handy "nozzle" that you would attach and can change greatly how the sound (...or "water") comes out and where it resides in our 3D cube.

Gain staging is another thing that novices almost ALWAYS overlook. This is basically where in the signal chain everything is amplified or "gained." If you're not careful you'll end up with a big make sure you're using gain pretty evenly across the board (unless you're going for an effected type sound...ala The White Stripes).

Anyhoo as you said this is a HUGE iceberg and we're just touching the very tip. There is tons of great literature out there on the subject. In particular I'd pick up anything by Bob Katz.

2.5 cents,

PROGRESSION: "Music Software for Guitar"

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1120
Topic starter  

Thanks to both of you! I'll be back :-)

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg

Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 142

Mixing is a huge subject and takes a lot of learning and experience, that to be honest ... as great as Audacity is, it will slow down that experience. It's not designed for real multitracking and mixing.

Audio sequencers such as Cubase etc are in a completely different league to Audacity. They should't even be in the same category really. You don't need to spend a load of money, don't underestimate something like the lite versions such as Cubasis etc. You pick these up for much less money and they are still VERY capable of creating professional results.

Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 779

Hi Lars
As other has said , Audacity is a bit limited for advanced music recordings.
Before you buy Cubase I would test Kristal Audio Engine or Reaper.
Kristal is very good and Reaper is as good or better as Cubase LE.
And test the Kjearhus classic VST plugins
And dont forget to use a ASIO2 driver as .
This will reduce the track to track delays(latency).
Wich external soundcard are you using ?

Tanglewood TW28STE (Shadow P7 EQ) acoustic
Yamaha RGX 320FZ electric guitar/Egnater Tweaker 15 amp.
Yamaha RBX 270 bass/Laney DB 150 amp.

Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2261

+1 for Reaper.

Audacity is OK if you just want to record a few things as one-take or one-take per layer, anything else quickly becomes a major pain in the you-know-where. 'Bigger' software is fine if you want to spend the rest of your life learning to navigate through ten screens of pointless rubbish in order to change the simplest thing. Reaper is fantastically easy to use compared to the 'big' software, and is just as powerful. It does the same things, it's just designed by people with a clue about usability.

Plus, if you need to do more than Reaper can do, you're either already a pro or you're mistaken :) - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer