In most cases there are three different parts to the mixing process. Tuning, timing, and mixing. Depending on what you are looking for in a final result, most modern mixing takes into account all three of these areas.
We have several different tools we use for tuning including Celmony Melodyne, Antares Autotune and Synchro Arts VoxAlign.
Another more technical issue comes up with timing when you are recording using multiple microphones. When microphones are different distance from the source there is potential to phasing issues. There are several different methods of solving this issue using various tools and manual methods. This can come into play when we mix tracks from different studios. Sometime engineers overlook this aspect while tracking and anticipate correcting it at the time of mixing.
After all of the individual tracks of a song have been recorded, the mixing engineer steps in to work their magic. They begin by labeling and organizing the tracks into their similar groups. The song is often Normalized to ensure that the tracks are all at similar volume levels and no tracks peak. The engineer will then EQ each individual track to get the best tones out of the instruments and use high and low pass filters to eliminate any unneeded frequencies. The general goal of EQing is to make adjustments that allow all of the tracks to inhabit their own frequency areas. This allows the song to be clear and each instrument distinguishable. The same idea is also applied to panning the tracks to get a full, wide sound. Compression, reverb, delay, and other processors can be added to each track to get the desired tones for the instruments as well. Manipulating fades and effects throughout the songs with automation can help the engineer control the emotion of the song sonically. The mixing engineer will listen to the recorded tracks through various speakers and headphones to insure that each song sounds its best being played on various platform.
The process can include:
Mixing often also includes a good deal of editing – choosing the best bits of every take of a song, and sometimes even building musical elements from scratch. Sometimes there is so much editing involved it forms a separate stage in between tracking and mixing.
Mixing is a combination of art and science where the only thing that matters is how your finished product sounds. Every artist has a unique sound and it's imperative that it comes across in the mix. Whether you are looking for huge and punchy or subtle and intimate we've got you covered.
In most cases we start with tuning. We look at every vocal track and instrument track to see if it needs to be tuned because of pitch or style or a combination of both. Many fine vocalists still use tunning. Sometimes you the vocalist will give a great performance and there may a small amount that is slightly out of tune. Instead of recording the entire take again, we may just look at the couple spots that are out and gently set them straight. We have the expertise to tune tracks subtly so the listener has no idea that any tuning was done and that the performance sounds completely natural. In other cases we use tuning to the extreme. We can morph vocals in many ways including adding harmonizer and vocoder type effects.
If you want to really tighten up your tracks you can time align various elements including vocals, drums, synths, guitars and almost anything. Depending on what type of material is being mixed, timing can be incredibly important. Sometimes you may have a fantastic vocal line, but you rushed it a little bit. Or maybe you have vocal harmonies that you need to tighten up. Tightening up vocal harmonies and background vocals makes it easier for the listener to understand that lyrics. Perhaps you have a band and you want to lock the drummers kick drum together with the bass player. There are tools such as the above mentioned VocAlign and even Pro Tools own beat detective that are the typical tools of choice. However in many cases it comes down to listening and doing what the song and the artist call for.
Once the tuning and the timing are complete the final step is the actual mixing. Mixing is the process of blending all the individual tracks in a recording to create a version of the song that sounds as good as possible – the “mix”.