Basic/Beginners Mixing Concepts – Volume & Panning

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Mixing, Videos

in this video tutorial I am going to show the basic concept on mixing, for the totally beginner,
for people who have never mixed before, or have been struggling to understand the essential steps.

in this specific project I didn’t use a reference because I just want to show you the essential concept of mixing,
which you can follow, and by following this steps you will gain a pure experience,
I am not going to talk about mathematics and physics, or psychoacoustics either,
I am just gonna let you try those steps for yourself and gain the basic knowledge and experience you need in order to level up.

think about the first pioneers in the mixing world, they didn’t know the concept of panning high sounds is easier (sound more logical) then panning low sounds (of course this depends on the context and content of the production),
they just played with the panning faders and they listened to the results, from that experience they noticed that concept of high sounds logics and started to explain why they think it is working that way.

Please don’t be robots!

just follow the ideas behind what I am doing, not exactly what I am doing,
read the text and follow the video and you will be fine.

Now, shall we start ?? No!

first you need to have a reference track, I didn’t use it here, but you definitely want to use a reference track, put it on one of the tracks and listen to it when you need direction.

now you remember the article about how to prepare yourself to a good mix ? here it is :

and for the home-studio owners you remember this article right ?…

so if you remember those, now we can start… finally 🙂

always try to work in higher bitrate, 24bit and 32bit are good to go.

as you can see at the start of the video, I am just listening to the arrangement and see where are the busy parts and the sparse parts,
and if there is some dramatic change along the song, so I can be ready for that when I am mixing.

I check often for clipping, but remember that some genres like been clipped, in this song however we don’t want clipping,
as you see I just play with the master fader do adjust volume so it won’t clip, as I checked in cubase 4 the master fader is kinda like a group of all the channels so leveling it down works the same way as if you level down all the faders.

build a Rough Mix,
to build a rough mix you have to play only with the essential parameters, unless there are some major problems.

Volume & Panning are the most essential tools, they don’t color the sound, the don’t change it, they change only how you perceive it.
you must be familiar with those tools if you want a great mix.
often I hear mastering engineers say they can hear that the mixing engineer didn’t annoy the sounds too much, only where necessary,
that’s what you want them to say about you.
so building good basic Mix using only Volume & Panning will keep you on the right track later on in the mixing process, so you can get compliments like those 🙂

leveling – I just get the level right enough, not extremely accurate.
getting the levels extremely accurate will take place later.

panning – I know there are alot of concepts for panning but first you need to make your ears sensitive enough to the panning effect.

so how can we achieve that ?
just grab a fader and start playing with it,
don’t think about it, just do it!
and somewhere… in there… you will find some spots that will sound logical, and some spots that will sound clearer, and some spots that will sound magical…
choose whatever you think appropriate for the production.

as you can see in this project I don’t have much to play with, so I just panned the two violins, I could play with more instruments if needed clearer separation of the instruments or achieving more stereo width.

later on I went into the fixing stage, which means I just apply minor changes,
the mix process is dynamic so it is going to change a lot more as we continue,
but as we go deeper into the mix, the changes are going to be smaller, and more accurate.

after being satisfied with the result I am saving it, and taking a break before going to the next stage, I advise you to do the same.

in this video you can see the process.

  1. Jane Eyre says:

    I think you have a great page here… today was my first time coming here.. I just happened to find it doing a google search. anyway, good post.. I’ll be bookmarking this page for sure.

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