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Audio Mixing

Updated on September 17, 2014

Understanding the art of Audio Mixing

The audio mixing existed long time before even the advanced equipment for audio mixing was invented. To better understand what audio mixing is, than there is a very simple explanation. Imagine music orchestra with many instruments playing the same melody together. That would be the simplest or the most primitive explanation of an audio mixing. Today we have very sophisticated equipment and we can build the same song and the musicians doesn't even have to play together in the same room or at the same time or even to be in the same country... Not just that. We can add, edit, polish, tune... every instrument, every sound we can think of, and all this together it represent the process of the art of audio mixing.

Professional audio mixing studio of Jessica Corcoran - audio engineer at mixingAudioPros
Professional audio mixing studio of Jessica Corcoran - audio engineer at mixingAudioPros

The process of audio mixing and the basic equipment

There is a saying that 'Without music, life would be a mistake"! True music not only goes into your ear, but is also able to touch your soul. Unfortunately, many believe that this magic is eventually fading away from the new era of music. There is no doubt in the fact that still there are great musicians, who are capable of producing dynamic and magical tracks. You must understand that finding a talented artist is not the problem. Rather, the main concern is to make people aware of the right tools and techniques, which can add this missing charm to their music.

Understanding importance of a good audio mixing.

Well, in simple words, audio mixing can be defined as the process of combining multiple layers of recorded audio into one or more channels, in order to get a final track. The best way to understand the importance of this post-production stage is by taking a real world example.

For instance, suppose you want to record a track in your home studio using few instruments, viz, drums, piano and a guitar. For this purpose, you will need a digital condenser microphone along with good sequencer software installed in your computer. Once the track is ready, all you need to do is to play it back and try to connect with each of its note and dynamic. Is it dull and flat? Well, this is the time when you need proper mixing techniques. It helps you to layer the audio and optimize the volume of each of these layers at various specific points. For example, you may want the guitar sound to come out more prominently at a particular point of your track. Such modifications can be incorporated with the help of mixing.

Also, all the unwanted noises can be removed from the audio track during this phase.

Audio Mastering, the next step

Do you want the drum beats to be a bit more energetic and loud or want to boost the bass frequencies by a certain amount? Well, for this kind of specific modification of music, you need to first master the art of mastering. There are several techniques or more specifically several phases of the audio mastering process. The most basic one is known as 'Compression'. The key role of an audio compressor is to strictly keep the track within its decibel limits. This is done by either suppressing the peaks or by boosting the low frequency points in the track. The next technique is called 'Equalization' of the audio track. As the name suggests, this technique allow you to optimize the frequency ranges, in order to make the music more dynamic. Other effects such as stereo enhancements, reverb, amplification and tuning can also be quite helpful in the audio mixing and mastering process.

Choosing the right audio mixer

When it comes to audio mixers, there are plenty of options available in the market. However, this may create a big confusion among the buyers, especially the novices find it difficult to choose the most appropriate audio mixing device. Here are some key factors, which should be considered while purchasing an audio mixer.

The number of MidLine/instrument inputs you require in your audio mixer is a crucial criterion to consider. Also, if you need direct inputs from keyboards, DJ stations or other instruments like guitars, then don't forget to include those in your specification list.

You can either go for EQ with basic frequency adjustments (high/low) or a multiband one that provides EQ on each channel.

You must keep in mind the scalability factor, if you are looking for future expansion of the device. The number of buses is an important factor to take into account, as it monitors exactly how the signal is being routed. Also, the number of speakers along with amplification devices plays a key role in determining the output configuration.

You should also check whether the mixer has Outboard or Onboard effects.

The studio of Jessica Corcoran - a professional audio engineer from London

A professional audio mixing studio. (credits for the image goes to Jessica Corcoran and mixingAudioPros)

Audio mixing books and equipment on Amazon

Books and professional software for new and experience audio engineers

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      Betty-S 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this article. I find it very useful. I see you are linking to a mixing and mastering service mixingAudioPros. I notice a lot of experienced audio engineers that have been working with a lot of famous musicians like 50 Cent, Linkinpark, The Prodigy, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls, INXS, Pink Floyd, Eminem, Rihanna, Radiohead, Metallica, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi and lot of others. I must say, I am very impressed. I am in the music industry too and I am interested of the services you are providing. I want to contact you but I don't know how this work but can you contact me please. Thank you.