How To Record, Mix And Master (obtain great results with your music without spending thousands)

Wondering how to obtain great results with your music without spending thousands? Mixing and mastering doesn't have to be hard, time consuming, or difficult. This post was designed to help you get on your way to complete independence with mixing mastering and music skills.


Mixing And Mastering

Well what the f**k is mixing and mastering you ask???


Mixing and mastering is one of the most crucial steps in creating great sounding music ( of course a good player or singer is always beneficial) But if all else fails and you put together some hurricane concoction of flute, bagpipes, 808's, heavy metal guitar and screamo vocals and layer it all together, you can still have a good sound with proper mixing and mastering


Lets start with recording

When you're looking to record there's some simple yet crucial things you need to do in order to get great results. Whether its microphone placement, distance, type of microphone, software, what your recording off of, Or whether its an electronic or acoustic instrument.


Now I know what your saying. Holy smokes man that's a lot to take into consideration and I don't have a clue what I'm doing!


The honest answer is plain and put simply... You do know.


And do you want to know how I know you know???


Because music is ingrained in us as humans. Its in our blood, our bones, its in our stanky leg


So here is how to properly record for most instances. Starting off with





Vocal Microphone recordings


In order to obtain great microphone vocal recordings you need to


1 - Go to your local music store and test the microphones on display (if you are recording your own voice ) Everybody's voice is different and your voice will sound different on every microphone you try. Trust me... the 50 hours you might spend on Mic reviews on YouTube is not worth it, you will hear someone sound so good and have a 1 in 4 chance of you actually liking the sound of the microphone



2 - Invest in a pop filter (they are like 10 bucks and will get rid of plosives and wind noise from breath (If you don't know what a plosive is then say the word PLOSIVE * listen to the p sound*)



3 - Play around with the angle and tilt of the microphone as well as your position Tilting the microphone upwards gives you different sound than tilting downwards. You can even sing slightly off to one side or close or far. Depending on what you are making, you could even sing/rap 30 Feet away from the microphone. Play around and find what sound you like best. But remember , STAY ATLEAST 6 INCHES AWAY FROM THE MICROPHONE. I know they look delicious but seriously...



4 - Listen to your self while recording. Most DAW's offer a feature to hear your self back through microphones ( If you need info on DAW's I have another blog post explaining them and comparing them)



5 - HAVE FUN!!! Music is supposed to be a good time so make it a good time and don't worry if things don't work out, there's always the next time!

If you don't have a lot of money to invest in a microphone and sound gear you can use a phone and still make it sound good. (believe it or not some viral songs are recorded on a cellphone)


Now lets get into.....


INSTRUMENT RECORDINGS

Honestly acoustic instrument recordings fall into the exact same category as vocal recordings. When it comes to drums you will how ever want to mind your placement, and have multiple microphones recording into an audio interface as pictured down below





For electric instruments you just plug them into your audio interface and off you go

( When you invest more you can also record into a pre amp and then into an audio interface for the best sound )





NOW LETS GET TO THE JUICY STUFF




Lets start with the mix

So you have a song ready that you've put together, maybe you and your buddies were jamming out on the weekend and having beers and something great came out of it, or maybe its a beat you've purchased and your rapping over it, or maybe you produced and preformed your own vocals and did everything on your own!


Its time to mix it up


When it comes to mixing you should treat it like the main course. This is the 1500 dollar steak and 600 dollar bottle of Dom to your evening date.


Mixing is how the elements of your song fit together to create a silky smooth symphony, that licks the tip of your ear, and whispers dirty thoughts to you under the moonlit sky.


Now you might think that was a little excessive but I worded it that way for a reason.


Did you get a feeling off of that? Some kind of mood change? Maybe you were freaked out and you want to leave this blog post and never come back. What ever it is you got a feeling


The main key to mixing is the feeling!!!


If you know it sounds good then damn rights it does sound good. You also have to learn to trust your self because that's all we have in this game of music, our self, our talent, and our ears


In order to properly mix your song you have to understand one thing

* Music is a 3d space *

Volume is your closer and farther away, panning is your left and right, and frequency of sounds is your up and down ( higher and lower )



*If you need an example of frequency then search up a trumpet sound and then search up a bass sound ( trumpet plays in your head and the bass plays in your stomach ) That's where you feel those frequencies*


*If you need an example of volume then take a song and slowly move the volume from quiet to loud ( you will begin to notice an auditory illusion of sounds getting farther away and even pushed behind other sounds)*


Panning is self explanatory ( left and right ear ) Only heard on stereo speaker systems ( example headphones, speaker systems, car.) *Not heard on phones. Phones are mono how ever they are starting to use stereo on small scale.*


You are going to use these elements specifically to tailor your sounds to fit in which ever way sounds best.

The tools to do this are all free with a DAW (again if you need to know about DAW's I have another blog post explaining it all)



  • With Volume and panning you can fit instruments together to have great sound (even layering sounds) If you have instruments that are clashing together in frequency you can EQ and or pan and separate the sounds slightly

  • EQ is used to cut or increase frequencies ( don't cut too much to the point the sound is ruined. always listen and turn the EQ on and off to compare the differences before moving on)

  • You can duplicate a sound or instrument and pan one slightly to the left and one slightly to the right to give an illusion of a wider sound

  • Compression will tighten up a weak sound, level out sounds with weird unmanageable peaks and decays (sound going loud and quiet), or make a kick extremely boomy and hard hitting if it has a slow attack

  • Reverb is good on a lot of stuff if you like the sound ( again mind your frequencies because you can get clashing resonances with too much reverb)

  • Sidechain sidechain is used to push another sound down while one sound is hitting (think of it like covering up a fart with a cough)


Those are pretty well the basics of mixing ( you also have delay and a wide array of other cool affects at your disposal


When you are mixing keep this in mind ( imagine you walk into a room and a live band is playing your song. where is everyone standing???) Some people mix in that fashion only, as if it were a live performance built into your speakers. This method can get you some really unique tracks.




I personally recommend that you listen to some tracks that sound similar to yours (by artists you like) And compare your mixing to their songs mixing ( don't compare too hard though, just enough to where you know your in the right direction)


But most of all remember


MIXING AND MASTERING IS A FEELING





MASTERING


Now when it comes to mastering I'm going to make this very simple for you all.


Mastering is just making it LOUD


but not too loud...


You are going to add some compression to your song ( slight or heavy ) You're going to cut out 20hz and under and 18khz and over (frequencies we cant hear)


Add a limiter- and as a rule of thumb for me I put a ceiling on the track of -1 DB,

and then increase some of the gain and compare the track yet again with a similar track.

When you hear the tracks both at the same time they should both be easily distinguishable when you focus on one, but should both be the same loudness or close


You should use a loudness meter plug in to make sure your not peaking ( if you are then you have some sounds that are clashing) - eg a hat and kick and clap all hit at once ( If that happens to you then use a sidechain compression on the hat and clap)


Once you've done everything you can, and you've heard your song 100 times, then take a break come back and assess and fix what ever else you need to.

again compare it with another track, when your happy then its off to distribution!!!!


Just remember... ITS ALL A FEELING!!!


If you find you still need help then I do offer affordable packages! just check out my services page and shoot me a message!!





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