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mixing tutorials

1.Kicking-off with 10 digestible nuggets of sound mixing essentials you should be practicing when either shaping sounds or balancing the mix.

You might know all, or some of these tips already, cool, they've been chosen however, because they are ones we most-often let slide from our realm of thoughts when dancing with the fairies in laa-laa-land (Note: I'm talking about you here - I've personally never been to laa-laa-land, preferring STRICTLY HETERO nightclubs instead, HTH).
1: Use MONO Sound Sources

That's right! Some of you might be shocked to learn this - I know I was when first told - I mean, mono is crap right? We're into (what is it now?), 9-Channel surround-sound or sommat daft like that now aren't we! And what about your synth? I bet it sounds amazing in full-width panoramic swirling stereo doesn't it? It just wouldn't sound the same in mono, right?

I feel ya, trust. But listen-up...

First-off, ask yourself what sound source, in nature, is truly emitted in stereo? Aye, got you thinking hasn't it!

If you're sat there shouting: "All natural sound sources are in stereo - they're all around us!" Well, that's how we hear them, true. But it's more likely a result of things happening to those soundwaves whilst travelling to our ears.

You see, sound waves are reflected, blown-about, and dampened etc., don't forget. We perceive distance, direction and space through clues such as volume, and the difference in time it takes a sound to enter both ears (ie., if it hits the left ear louder and quicker than the right.)
Drowning in Stereo

Recording your sound sources in stereo (or using stereo samples) can make it very difficult to find a "hole" in the mix for other instruments to sit. This can lead to excessive EQ fiddling to create one - cue battle of the sounds.

A well-recorded mono sound source on the other hand, can be placed with relative ease onto the sound-stage, allowing you to much better handle what, and how, effects should be applied with regard to other neighbouring instruments and their positions and frequencies in the mix.

Remember these things:
Record in stereo - record again in stereo! With mono, you just tweak the panning and effects (if any) until seasoned.
If 2 mono sound parts are sharing the same frequency range then just try and simply pan them slightly: one to the right, other to the left (a couple of notches either side is usually enough).
If you must record in stereo, use 2 mono channels to capture right and left separately.
Final Killer Tip
Test your mix in mono! Use the mono button on the mixing-panel (or desk) to sum the channels together into one (mono) channel. This will put all the sounds into the centre.

Why?
You'll hear if any phasing is creeping-in (like a comb-filtering effect).
You can correct any sounds that have disappeared.
Many club PA systems (believe it or not), use mono! Don't be embarrassed - I've read enough personal accounts on forums to know this is a fairly common pitfall!
What to Listen For

Tone and volume consistency.

Yeah I know... how to explain that in writing, eh! Use your noggin: you're after consistent clarity basically - sufficient to identify the instruments in both mono and stereo. If there isn't, go back into the mixing panels and identify what's causing your mono upsets by looking at your stereo files and/or added stereo effects.

2.Rest Them Ears
If you're concentrating on a song-part for too long, your ears become quickly tired - You will sit there and think, 'nah...', and convince yourself everything is fine, but what you've probably done in fact, is over-compensate without realising.

This is one of my weaknesses I have to say; simply because I become so engrossed I just can't let go until I'm happy... even if that takes 14 hours (cough - or more!).

It can be more troublesome when you're trying to create a complex sound on a synth or something that covers several frequency spectrums - You can be spending hours refining the sound and during that process, you'll be overly concentrating on the lower, mid or higher freq's of that sound, almost to the exclusion of the others... basically, you lose the wider perspective.

It's usually the higher-frequencies that suffer, meaning you'll more than likely make them more prominent... of course, you won't realise until you listen-back a couple of days later.
What to do?
Don't monitor at loud volumes - Conversational volume is just fine.
Do lots of referencing, often: Make adjustments and listen to it with other instruments, AKA, A/B testing.
Reference with professionally-recorded CD's.
Try referencing the mix in mono to see if the overall balance of instruments is clear and even.