Preparing A Song For A Professional Mix

 

It is an exciting experience having your songs mixed by a professional mix engineer. As an artist you have spent countless hours crafting your songs and recordings to be an accurate representation of your vision. A great mix engineer will take your vision to a new inspiring level. There are simple steps to make sure that the tracks that you provide your mix engineer can be used quickly and simply with any mix system.

Clearly label all audio files. A label such as “Johnny heavyg 56L” is not as easy to understand as “rtm gtr 1”. If there are many tracks of the same type such as synths, make sure that they are labeled in a uniform manner that tells the mix engineer what their purpose is. A track that is labeled “chorus bass synth” makes a lot of sense. If you are preparing your recording in Pro Tools (what your mix engineer will probably be using) it is a great idea to include comments on each track about how the track is to be used.

Consolidate each track so that everything starts together at the zero point of the session. If you don’t know how to do this in your Digital Audio Workstation, ask your mix engineer for instructions. This is often overlooked when delivering audio files to a mix engineer and it can take hours to rectify if it is not done correctly.

Compile your takes and only include your best performances. Your mix engineer is working to create a fantastic mix of the whole song. They don’t need to spend hours listening through less than ideal performances to choose the best take. Compiling takes saves the mix engineer time, and saves you money in the end by focusing your mix time on what matters, a great sounding mix.

If you are recording with guitar amp simulations, include a clean direct version of each track. Your mix engineer may be able to run your direct signal through a real amplifier in the studio that is far superior to what an amp simulator can provide. Even if you are happy with your guitar sounds, a clean direct signal can allow for your amplifier sounds to me modified and augmented in the mix in a creative manner that would not have been obvious in the initial recording process.

If you are recording at home, which is the reality for many musicians today, use caution in regard to distortion and levels. Within digital audio it is better to have less level than to be distorted. A clean digital signal can be boosted by a significant amount without artifacts, but distortion can not be cleaned up. Likewise, if you are compressing at home, do not over compress. If you are unsure of how much gain reduction to apply to a source, always record a dry uncompressed signal simultaneously.

Include sample frequency and bit depth with your production notes for the project. This is a courtesy that a mix engineer will appreciate when they receive your project. If possible, try to keep the sample frequency and bit depth the same throughout the entirety of your recording project. This allows for each song to operate in a similar manner with digital equipment.

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2 responses to “Preparing A Song For A Professional Mix

  1. All good advice. I might add that carefully crossfading before consolidating will avoid edit “pops” from jagged wave forms at the edit points. Include your own mix with the files to help explain your concepts for the mix, too, thanks.

  2. great post! I actually wanted to write something similar soon! 🙂

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