Couple Of Guidelines On Mixing Electronic Music

109

Couple Of Guidelines On Mixing

Mixing isn’t something that can be learned overnight. I’ve been making electronic music over 10 years now and even though I can make decent sounding tracks, I still feel that I have a lot to learn.


However, it’s not rocket science either and anyone CAN learn to mix. You just need a tad of a patience and decent monitors or headphones. Practice makes perfect like they say!

In this article, I give you a couple of tips on mixing that I’ve personally found helpful in my own music production.

Keep in mind though that I am not professional, just a hobbyist and these may very well not be the best advice on mixing.

Even so, I hope you find at least some of these audio mixing tips useful!

Preparing To Mix

I usually start the mixing process by dropping the master channel volume level to around -6.0dB or lower.

This is because I want to leave some headroom between the loudest peaks and 0.0 dB level to avoid clipping.

When adding more sounds and instruments to the mix there’s a risk of clipping. If you export your song to .WAV and it’s clipping, it’s very hard or impossible to fix it afterward (unless you’re exporting to 32-bit floating point format).

At this point, it doesn’t matter if the mix doesn’t sound loud enough. Just turn up the volume of your speakers.

When you export (mixdown) your song to WAV, you can normalize it afterward (that means increasing the amplitude of the WAV so that the loudest peak is at the maximum possible level without clipping) and use limiter and compressor to make it loud.

Okay. Before going to the actual mixing process, I usually have a rough mix created already in the composing stage…

But after that, I usually do this: in the mixer tracks, I drop every instrument level to INF (completely silent) except the kick drum.

And the mixing process starts here!

Drums

I usually mix everything after the kick drum and I always start with the drums.

So basically I start by setting the kick drum mixer track volume level to 0.0dB. In my opinion, in most of the electronic music, the kick drum should be the “dominant force”.

Then I mix the other instruments so that kick drum stands out the most. Also, I never pan the kick drum. I keep it always centered.

Few words about Panning: Panning is a great and simple way to widen the stereo image of a mix. With panning you can place different sounds around the stereo panorama. It’s also a good way to “separate” sounds that are on the same frequency range to avoid them messing with each other.

This is very handy if you have a “busy” (a lot of sounds and instruments) mix. I really recommend practicing the use of panning.

Sometimes – very rarely though – I layer two or more kick drums if I’m not satisfied with the one I’m currently using.

Then there’s compression as well. Compression is basically automated gain control that reduces the dynamic range of sounds and it’s useful for many things such as making the whole mix sound louder.

With compression you can modify the volume shape of single sounds as well – works well with kick drum. For example, you can add more “thump” or “snap” to your kick and control how the tail of the kick (oomph) behaves.

I have to say that I rarely compress kick drums. I have a huge collection of kick drum samples and most of the times I can find a sample that suits my needs as is.

So if I’m not satisfied with my current kick sample, I usually don’t start playing around with the compression – or layering or tuning in that matter. Instead, I change it to another kick drum sample.

Ok. Now that the kick drum is at level 0.0dB and the rest are INF, I start to increase the levels.

First, the claps (or snare)…

I usually set it few dB’s below the kick drum level, but this is really depending on the amplitude of the snare or clap sample.

Also, depending on the sample, I may do a slight high shelf boost via eq around the 7-8kHz area to give it a bit more clarity.

I may also add a very gentle reverb to the claps or snare to add a bit of a sense of space.

For claps and / or snare sounds, I use layering more often than for kick drums, but still – quite rarely.

Next, I mix in the hi-hats…

Usually the closed hi-hats first. Again, setting the level a few dB’s below the kick drum depending on the amplitude of the sample. I often pan the closed hi-hats a little bit left or right.

Equalizing may be needed as well as hi-hats may sometimes compete with snare or claps. In this case, I usually either slightly boost or cut the high frequencies.

In this case, I usually either slightly boost or cut the high frequencies.

Gentle reverb may be suitable for closed hi-hats as well.

For open hi-hats, I pretty much give the same treatment as with closed hi-hats.

Panning and equalizing helps to separate closed and open hi-hats from each other as they are often in the same frequency range.

Crash cymbal may be sometimes quite challenging to mix. It may mess with the hi hats or even clap / snare.

Depending on the amplitude of the crash cymbal sample, I set the levels to several dB’s lower than the other drums just to make sure it’s not overtaking the drums.

Then comes the percussion sounds. I set the levels few dBs below the kick drum. If I’m using low tom – a type of percussion sounds, they may compete with the kick drum so I use a high pass eq to cut around 100-150 Hz and below.

If I’m using a drum loop to spice up the drums, it usually needs some pretty heavy equalizing to avoid messing up with the rest of the drums.

Sometimes, claps, hi-hats, and percussion sounds may need to be tuned as well to make them work together.

As a general rule of thumb, try to find a spot for each sound in the frequency range and stereo image and do not use too many sounds to avoid the drums sounding messy. Keep it simple!

Alright, now that the drums are pretty much ready, comes the hardest part: mixing the bass with the drums.

Bass

In electronic music, the bass is at least as important as the kick drum. Bass is a sort of rhythmical instrument as well so it’s a bit challenging to mix it with the kick drum so that they work nicely together and won’t fight.

I’ve found there are two things that affect most to how hard or easy it is to mix the bass with the kick drum: the sound and the sequence.

In addition to the bass sound, it makes a difference what kind is your bass sequence: is it in arpeggio style or other staccato types of composition or looooong notes or do the notes hit a same time with the kick drum, what notes are used etc.

Sometimes I end up changing the bass sequence just to make it work better with the kick drum and I find I need to do less equalizing.

I usually layer two bass sounds together. First one has a lot of low-end and it’s a soft sub-bass type sine wave sound, while the second sound is much more sharper saw or square wave typish.

I use both basses sounds to play the same sequence, but I transpose the other (that sharper one) an octave higher.

This will make the bassline to stand out in the mix better even if it’s listened through a smaller speaker system.

However, eq is usually needed here: I cut the low frequencies out of that second, sharper bass sound to avoid it messing the low end.

After cutting off frequencies such as low end I need to increase the sound volume level a bit, usually around +1-3dB’s.

Panning I set to center. Just like the kick drum, I always leave the bass to the center.

I use it quite a lot sidechain compression when mixing kick drum and bass. It’s a savior. With sidechain compression, you can make almost any kind of bass sound and kick work nicely together.

It’s also a trademark in a modern electronic music – ducking or pumping sound.

For more about this, I have created a tutorial on how to use sidechain compression in FL Studio.

So now that the drums are ok with the bassline, I start to mix the lead synth.

Lead Synth

If I create uplifting trance music, I let the lead synth to really stand out in the mix. Depending on the sound and the lead synth sequence, I set the volume level only little below the kick drum.

Next step is to eq the lead synth. If there’s a lot of low end in it, it may compete with the bassline.

The sequence makes a difference as well: if the lead melody goes really low and it is a type of sound that has a fat low end, then the low cut filter is most likely needed.

I often use a little high shelf boost to add some brightness to the lead. Sometimes I use peaking eq to slightly boost frequencies around 2kHz with a quite narrow bandwidth to make the lead synth to be more audible through the mix. But this depends on the other sounds in the mix.

Layering different lead sounds is what I do a lot. I like to use three different leads and pan them like this: lead 1 to 20-40% left, lead 2 to center and lead 3 to 20-40% right. This creates a nice, wide stereo image.

Delay effect with ping-pong effect panning from left to right and reverb is what I use to make them sound really huge.

Just like with the bass, I may sidechain compress the lead synth with the kick drum. Works well though I usually use a little more gentle settings than with the bass – a little less ducking that is.

Alright. Now there’s drums, bassline and lead synth in place. Usually, pads are next.

Pads

Pads I like to keep in the background so I set the levels several dB’s lower than the other instruments.

Equalizing is needed as well to cut off those low frequencies and maybe some highs too to not let it mess with the lead synth. But as always this depends on the pad sound and other sounds used in the mix.

Sound Effects

Noise sweeps, explosions, synth thwirls and things like that are very important in electronic music.

This kind of sounds may be on whatever frequency range so I just say that I try to make them sit nicely in the mix, not too loud, not too quiet.

Compression

Compression might be a good deal to use on individual instruments for more tighter, fuller and present sound. Suits very well for bass.

Personally, I use compression on single instrument tracks quite rarely though, but it’s a handy tool for evening out the most extensive changes in the dynamic range: there might be some areas that are a tad too loud or quiet. The compressor can balance these “gaps”.

This way, the individual instrument tracks sit better in the mix – the quieter parts can be heard more clearly through the mix and the louder parts won’t dominate as much.

Single band compressor like Fruity Compressor should work pretty well. Maybe start with something gentle like threshold: -23, ratio: 2.0:1, attack: 15ms, release: 200ms, Gain: 5dB. Remember though, with the compressor it’s easy to kill all the dynamics so avoid overusing it as things will start to sound unnatural and stressed. Unless you wan’t that as in electronic music that kind of sound may be sometimes desirable.

Listen Through Several Speaker Systems

It’s always a good thing to test out your mix through several different speaker systems: from very small ones to HUGE and on all possible volume levels.

By doing that you can hear what needs to be tweaked. Your main goal should be to make your mix sound as balanced as possible on all sound systems.

More?

Few more words about the delay effect: subtle delay works great with closed hi-hats and basslines. It’s also an easy way to add etheric quality and dense to pads.

Also, very gentle flanger is a great way to add a little life to otherwise monotonous hi-hat or clap patterns.

Okay, it’s actually kinda hard to give even general guidelines on what settings to use in mixing as so much depends on the sounds, melodies and what kind of elements you want to stand out in the mix.

There’s just so much you can do to make your mixes sound great.

A general rule I’ve been personally following is I try to make the drums and bass sound as good and powerful as possible and try to keep the mix simple by not adding too much stuff.

I hope this helped.

Share.

About Author

HowToMakeElectronicMusic.com (HTMEM) - A music production website with plenty FL Studio tutorials, interviews, news, free music production tips, and free downloads.

109 Comments

  1. This is seriously an AMAZING text tutorial!

    I’ve been panning the high-hats in a few songs I’ve started and with my headphones on it sounds sooooo much better! Also panned a snare and crash a little bit and it adds somewhat of a realistic feel πŸ™‚

    But with the master volume trick you started with up there….That is probably going to help me the most! Whenever I would add a sweep or reversed cymbol it would clip and make it sound like a really bad side chain effect. So thanks!!!

    Like always…. I do have a few questions about that :S So do you export your song with the master volume down, then import the finished file back into FL and increase the master volume and then add the limiter and compressor?

    Your the best! Keep em comming πŸ˜€

    • Thank you Jon!

      Now to your question: Yeap. But instead of importing it back to FL, I open it in Sound Forge and do the normalizing and limiting/compression there. But it can be done in FL as well. It’s just I’m so used to do it in Forge.

  2. Sounds good πŸ™‚ I will have to give it a shot and experiment with the compression, I’ve never used it for the master.

    Thanks alot and have a good weekend!

  3. Hey man, hope everything is going well πŸ™‚

    I’ve finished up a little beat just to try the mastering technique…and I’d have to say I’m quite impressed πŸ™‚

    Just to name a few things I’ve tried for the final mastering…. Limiter, Compressor, Parametric EQ 2 with a small touch of high end, and I’m actually experimenting with the Fruity Stereo Shaper. I’m not sure if I will leave the stereo shaper on, but it seems to almost pan out the sounds a little bit and possibly make the beat more full and realistic…..but I’m using my headphones so I will have to try it on some other speakers.

    I was going to see if you could possibly make a short video tutorial of mastering your final beat in FL maybe just using some little song you’ve never finished or something…..? I know you don’t master your songs with FL so if you can’t get to it, don’t worry! You still have the best tutorials around πŸ™‚

    I just can’t find any good mastering tutorials using FL, as in limiter and compressor settings or presets…

    Happy Easter!!
    Take care.

  4. Ok so never mind the stereo shaper…….LOL. On my surround sound it plays the kicks through every speaker and takes away alot of the low frequency, along with the bassline……!!!!

    MY BAD πŸ˜€

      • lris taylor on

        hi iam a beginner and i want to make house music. i have made this great lead witih nexus with a 125 bpm kick . i have used the many great techniques that ive read on this website but every time its exported onto a wav file and i play it back it sounds kind of jumpy, almost as if the synth lead from nexus is being pulled in and pushed out like an up and sound sound that i obviously do not want!! help!!!

          • kris taylor on

            hey petri. i dont have any side chain compression at the moment. not sure where to start becuase the main synth lead doesnt follow each kick if that makes sense, it kind of fits around the kick. yet when i export it down onto wav the sound it muffled coming in and out. certainly not how it sounds with fl !! i dont know whether its the strength of the nexus lead iam using!! i would love to send you a copy of it to show you what i mean!! thanks again Petri

  5. Okay, I promise one of these day’s I’ll stop posting comments every time I need help or advice……:D

    Though I could use some advice….
    I use some headphones that are okay, I think they were like 40-50 bucks. I got them when I started but I’m looking for an upgrade.

    If this makes sense….I want some that are accurate. For examples I’ll make a beat with my headphones, render it and listen through my surround sound, then my laptop stock speakers, in my car, etc… just to kind of figure out what I need to equalize….I would assume this should be done no matter what, but I really would like some new headphones that produce good quality sound so I wont have to alter frequencies AS MUCH.

    I don’t have a set price range. Obviously the cheaper the better, but I don’t want to have to do another upgrade down the road. So I’m open to any suggestions. I’ve looked at some and just seems like the reviews are almost “fake” πŸ™ ………

    Anyways take it easy πŸ˜€

    • Jon, keep those comments and questions coming, they’re good for this website πŸ™‚

      Now to your question: as for the headphones I’ve heard lots of good on Beyerdynamic DT 880 and Sennheiser HD 380. I haven’t tested them personally, but many professional musicians are recommending those.

      I have AKG K271, and they’re quite good, but I think it’s discontinued product by now.

      Have you thought of getting studio monitors at some point?

  6. haha alright sounds good to me! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the advice I will definitely look into those headphones!
    I would like to get some studio monitors but most of the time I wear headphones because I usually get around to FL kinda late at night…..Don’t want to drive anyone crazy lol. But chances are I’ll get some before to long.

    Thanks again! πŸ˜€

  7. Thanks man. its amazing. tryed to humanize my drums and synths together years and now finally got it. haha. Great big thanks to you. Im Freakin happy πŸ˜›

  8. Good informative, well-written piece there I have to say.

    It’s easy to get lost in all the ‘science’ behind making music, so it’s nice to see it in short plain english. I shall be using this as a trimmed down future guide!

    Can you recommend any monitor/speakers that could squeeze into a small setup in a small flat?

  9. I can’t figure out how to do some of this. Though I’m not properly trained or anything at all. xD

    Still helpful though, thanks πŸ˜€

  10. Jonathan Nieves on

    Hey, i read ur advice on having the kicks be the loudest part of the track, but for some reason i feel that the kick sounds too LOUD when i do that, i dont know why. And i only put a just a lil above the loudest synth, so idk why it makes such a difference can you give me advice in to letting me know why and what i can do to fix that? thank you

    • Hey Jonatahan, If the kick comes out too loud, dont be afraid to drop it’s volume level. Every kick sample is a bit different – different frequencies, recorded on different volume level, etc. – and you need to adjust the volume settings according to this. You just need to use your ears to find the right balance. The idea is to mix in a way so that the kick drum is the ‘ruling’ sound and others will follow, but always remember to preserve the overall balance.

  11. Hey dude, quick question.

    You mentioned 3 layers on your lead.

    Would you send them all to the same bus or 3 seperate ones?

    Cheers, Marques.

  12. hey I’m kind of a beginner but I have this problem when I render my music, and listen to it somewhere else, it loses sound quality and doesn’t sound exactly like what I was expecting. can u help?

    • Hey Jafett, can you tell me what DAW and rendering settings are you using? Also, what kind of speakers/monitors you have in your studio and where did you listened your song?

  13. Is it normal that I have to take the snares like -8 dB and one of my leads -11 dB? You said in the tutorial that you should take them down only a few dB so I thought that meant like 2 or 3 dB. But when I do that, the sound meter turns red when the snares and leads kick in. I’m a noob when it comes to mixing so I really need some help with this! πŸ˜›

    • Hey James,

      The values all are subjective. It all dependes on the amplitude of your samples! Some samples are louder than others! You need to use your ears (and eyes: watch the meters!) to avoid the CLIPPING and turn down the levels according to that πŸ™‚

      • Thanks man I figured out the problem. I was layering two leads together and one of the leads was too loud so I turned it down a bit. The song I’m currently working on is turning out great so far and thanks to this tutorial, it’s even better now! I had no idea before what to do when it came to mixing so thank you very much for this.

  14. hey this is doucet here and i got a quick question. whenever i have one too many vst’s on a track my computer starts to skipping and a lot of people tell me to change the buffer setting but no matter what i have the settings on i get the same result…….do you have any sugestions??????????

  15. Hey Petri! This is a super guide! I’m new to computer producing, so I appreciate the way you explain things in a streight forward way. I’m a fast learner, but struggle to find basic information for noobs like myself. I some how underrstand the concept of mixing, but lack of basic nollage and a very small vocabulare when it comes to academic expressions is limiting me. Maybe this is too booring for you. But I would be over the roof thankful if you could mash up a short guide that contains the most important expressions and explanations of them . Here’s an example:

    “Tuning – Tuning is adjusting the pitch. ” Feel my drift?

    Anyway, I love your work on this page and will continue to use it in my learning.

    Best regards
    Andreas

    • Hell Andreas!

      Ah, you mean a sort of like a glossary for the audio production terms.. not a bad idea, but unforetnatly I’m an ESL people (english as second language) and I’m having a hard time to describe some of terms, but I’ll look into it!

      Cheers!

  16. wow.nice tutorials,it helps me a lot to study how to make my music sounds better.I also read your other article like “how to master a song in FL” etc.I’ll try it for practicing..thanks.greetings from Indonesia.

  17. Nassour Kalombola a.k.a Negative255 on

    Hi,
    Believe me your doing a great help!!!
    Well back to my issue. I’m a bit lost when you talked of compressors in “MIXING” while I thought those stuffs can be used while “MASTERING”. By the way I’m in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. My studio is under construction!

  18. Hi,
    This article was awesome, and at most points I find out that I was doing it with the correct way…but also I learn so many new things that I didn’t know…. πŸ˜€

  19. I tried layering different leads as you described in your article. However, the soundimage gets too big in my opinion. Especially with the delay ping pong – effect combined with leads which are already wide. I don’t know which leads you prefer, because it might work with flat or simple leads. Can you give any examples of different leads which you used for that πŸ™‚ ?
    In addition to that, I’ve got a question about the db-levels. Regarding the FL studio mixer, there is a db-meter for each channel and a master db-meter. When I put Spectrum Analyzer on the master channel, the db of an instrument is way different compared to the mixer’s master db-meter level. Hi hats are louder, for example. In my view, it’s better to observe the Spectrum Analyzer, because the FL db-meter doesn’t seem to detect every peak of an instrument which is currently playing. Am I right with that opinion?

    • Hey Phil,

      Remember that you need to use your ears to judge what kind of sounds work together in your mix. If you layer too many “rich” leads together, you most likely end up with “too big” sound – like you said – and you need to use quite a lot of EQ’ing to make everything fit. Remember also that the layering isn’t necessity – it was just a one tip amongst many on how to achieve bigger sound if the lead you are using in your mix sounds a kind of weak/thin. But if it sounds good as is, just leave it like that – no layering needed then.

      You can also layer just two sounds together. Also feel free to experiment with different panning settings and use EQ to make it sound the way you like. Really, it all depends on your mix and what YOU think that works there. Experiment.

      To your second question: mixer dB meters and spectrum analyzer are two different tools. You cant compare the values straightly so dont use spectrum analyzer for replacing the mixer dB meters. Its not meant for that. The FL mixer dB meters gives you enough information so you can see and decide what mixer track levels you need to increase and what to decrease for finding the balance between different instruments. Trust the FL dB meters – they are accurate enough, but more importantly, learn to use your ears when you mix.

      Spectrum analyzer is used for analyzing different frequencies of a sound. It shows you in what frequency areas the signal is peaking in the frequency range and how much. For example, if you hear annoying frequency in your mix (or in a single instrument/sound) and you cant tell exactly in what frequency area that annoyance is, you can use spectrum analyzer to see where it is (where its peaking too much) and then use EQ to fix it. Its also a handy tool for checking what’s happening in the frequency areas that your speakers or headphones may not be able to re-produce (for example the sub frequencies) and then use EQ to fix it if needed.

      Hope this helps!

  20. im making a progressive house track and its my 1st one ever. i wondering weather or not i should add in some pads, because it sounds really really good so far and i dont wanna fuck it up. any ideas?

  21. BandMediator on

    Petri,
    Trying to get our mix right for a new band and I’m looking for a good starting place for our live mix.
    To put it mildly, there is some disagreement amongst the band members about the mix so I’m looking for an objective and well founded third party opinion.
    We have lead female vocals, lead guitar, bass and electronic drums (we also have 3 backup vocal mics only used for some songs) and we have a nice mackie 22 channel mixer.

    To keep it simple and generic, suppose there are 10 lights on an volume level meter.
    Let’s say the lead vocalist is singing at an average of level 6.
    Where should the lead guitar be in relation to the lead vocals?
    Where should the base be?
    Where should the drums be?

    I’ve posed the question this way because I would like to come up with some simple ratios that I can see and adjust at a glance during a gig. We can’t afford a sound man and a snake right now….

    Finally, how does the mix differ (if at all) if you are playing live music as opposed to recording. Do you have any rules of thumb on that issue?
    Thanks so much for your great attention to this topic!

  22. Hey man am glad I read this God bless you,its like finally a post in the language of a music maker without a phd to his name.I have a question though,when I mix with the master fader turned down to avoid clipping I always end up with a kind of too weak a mixdown such that no matter how I try to boost it during mastering it never quite turns out as good as it does when for example I mix it at the level where I would love the final thing to be or a little low€r thaΓ± thΓ€t th€

  23. What do you think of behringer truth monitors bcos thats what I am using at the moment.thankz from Nigeria.

  24. Benjamin/Zealion on

    Helpful tips. But I still have a lot of problems. I’m an FL user as well, I have trouble with getting free Vsts, my image-line shared data won’t open anymore, I don’t how to make quality sounds through the basic plugins let alone how to get samples. I only thing I’m good at is making beats. which is a shame because it’s the easiest portion and I’ve been working with FL for 5 months now. The only way I feel I can get any better is with some hands on experience from someone that knows what they are doing. Problem is I don’t know anyone. Is there any advice I could get to resolve my problems? It would be much appreciated.

      • Benjamin/Zealion on

        Thanks your tutorials helped alot, I had some trouble with getting Vsts. But now they are up and running great. I got Zebralette ( and some that came with it ) from your list of free vsts. Are there any VST’s that you would recommend from that list as well?

  25. Hi, I don’t know if you are still responding to this thread or not, but I would like to ask a little advice. I am always struggling with balancing how a mix sounds on various speaker systems. I’ll think that the mix is perfect, then hear it on some other speakers, and it has some major annoying problems! Here’s one example of a song that I found out has too much annoying high end on my living room speakers, but sounds really nice on my monitors: http://soundcloud.com/daxiel/fuck-that-v28 Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this type of problem? Thanks!!!

    • Hey Daniel,

      That’s a very good question. It is indeed a very important to make your mix sound good in as many sound systems as possible and many audio professionals advice you to test your mix on several different sound systems before letting it go to public (I usually have a problems with the bass frequencies: they sound good in my studio, but overly exaggerated in my car stereo!)

      There might a problem with the positioning of your monitor speakers or your room acoustics. Maybe this article will help: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar02/articles/monitors.asp

      I would say that test your mix on different sound systems and get back to your mix and tweak with the EQ / mix levels until you find a combination that works on most of your sound systems.

  26. Hi Petri,

    In your article you mentioned dropping the Master to -5db to start. However, I had read somewhere else that the Master fader should remain at 0db and that you bring up the individual instrument faders up so that we peak at around -6 db.

    Are we effectively doing the same thing?

    Thanks

    • Hey there,

      Dropping the Master to -5dB was just my approach/recommendation on mixing. The point is to avoid the occurance of clipping in the mixdown so I think leaving the Master fade to 0dB and tweaking with the individual instrument faders to keep the overall peak to -6dB at most is working practice as well. You can always normalize the volume level or your mix.

  27. Rich & Famous on

    Hey!
    That’s a very nice website you got there!
    I simply wanted to say it’s good, well writen and easy to explain!
    It’s nice to see how someone else is doing it.
    I never thought of dropping the Master to -5db so i could put the kick to zero… but i was wondering how people was doing it!

    If i can add to your post, there is not much about vocal, i think it’s worth to mention that you can send your vocal into a sidechain to trigger the reeverb and delay. What you would want to achieve is either having the reeverb/delay more dry (i.e. 15%) and when the vocal is off/pause even for the slightest moment, then the mix of the reeverb/delay get more wet. This way the vocal stay clean but kind of create a nice background for it, automatically! You can also do the oposite, having it wet when on and dry when off!

    It is worth to mention that this tricks can be use with anything, lead, bass, drum, percs, etc…

    I tought that might some people on here would like to learn that!

    Cheers!

  28. HI….I am doing music production from past 3 years….After reading ur articles and blogs…my music has moved a step further……my problem is that when i try to remix a song….my beats go well according to…[1BAR=4BEATS] as u said…but after mixing my sound quality is very very poor…i want some gud samples other than vengeance….also i have a problem in mastering….plz help me w8ing for ur reply

  29. hey man, thanks for the tutorial, it’s simple to understand and very useful, it’s working really good for me so far

    I seem to be having a problem, when I normalize the WAV in edison, the mix gets too loud and starts to sound distorted, is there anything I’m doing wrong? also, even trying several exporting configurations (even the 32 floating point format), I get some clipping (or clicking? I’m not sure which one), and I really don’t know what to do about it

    maybe it all has to do with my soundcard? it’s an average integrated one, and my computer is kinda old, but at the moment is all I have to produce

    Thanks again man, I hope you can help me out with this

  30. hey, sorry, I had both tutorials open and I made the questions in the wrong one, I was talking about the mastering tutorial

  31. Hey Petri. I just wanted to give many thanks for what you’re doing here. I’m also trying to teach people how to use FL on my Youtube channel, and this inspires me. (No I won’t steal your ideas haha). It takes me a long time to mix & produce a track, but I believe I am getting much better, even if it is just subtle fx.

    I have a suggestion for a tutorial. I’m finding myself with a lack of creativity in the fx channels. The only things mine end up having is Compressor, Soundgoodizer, Reverb, Delay, PEQ2, and Limiter. I was thinking perhaps you could do a tutorial on how to create interesting fx using flangers, chorus, distortion, bitcrusher and various other fx to get unique sounds. Hope you understand what I’m trying to say. Cheers dude!

  32. Hi Petri !

    I must say : best tutorial ever !!!!

    Thanks a billion times ! You can’t wonder how this “how to” has just saved my life, combined with another tutorial that was showing how to eq each instruments. I was going mad with the mixing part of my tracks. They were all standing at this point and I was becoming depressed.
    The way you explained how to keep the kick in front, and subtly add the other instruments in a specific order with careful attention to keep the kick dominant, is the cherry on the cake of my little knowledge.

    Something in my method was always going wrong, and my tracks where loud but messy and unpleasent. I’ve just tried to follow your guidelines and my track are now sounding deep, sweet and loud. And most of all, my kicks stay in front.

    Thanks again.

  33. Hey, great tutorial I can’t wait to try this out on my track I’m working on πŸ™‚

    Just one (probably nooby) question. What does INF stand for?

  34. Ivan Mijatovic on

    Pietri,

    Amazing tutorial once again.

    I wanted to propose something to you and you tell me if you think it is a good idea.

    What if you can create a tutorial where you make the whole song, whether it is yours or some other electronic song that you did.

    This way you can really show it to us, your fans :), how you do the song and what are the good tips to pay attention to.

    I know you did various tutorials already, and I am still going through them, but showing the flow of creating a song from point A to point B would be amazing.

    I know that is a lot of work, and I know you are busy but it is just something to think about.

    Songs, nowadays, in house music particularly, sound very much the same.

    Maybe some tutorials on the sounds current DJ’s are using?

    Thank you so much again on these lovely tutorials and I hope I will hear from you.

    Cheers Pietri

    Ivan

  35. Bro, My name is Prince I live in South Africa I just want 2 say that u ar simply amazing.

  36. Hey, im signed on these forums but i cant be bothered to log in right now haha πŸ˜€ anyway i just wanted to say that ur article was great! im using Logic Pro 9, but it doesent matter, that info works well with any DAW πŸ˜€ im still having some trouble fully understanding compression and limiting but i think ill get there.. When i listen to my track that im working on right now, for me it sounds pretty much perfect but i just know that if i post it to some forums, some pros will notice some issues with mastering or mixing haha πŸ˜€ but i guess in the end, the bottom line is, if it sounds good, its good πŸ˜€

  37. Hi Petri,
    Just a little question ( I hope you see this as it’s been a while since you post this) just to confirm, quoting what you said in this post “I usually start the mixing process by dropping the master channel volume level to around -6.0dB or lower. ” I learn from one of this youtube tutorial vids online (actually the guy claim to be an engineer) and he says that reducing the master fader volume seems to affect the mix in some way (mathematically or so he says; but he sounded SERIOUS) and I’ve been trying to further research into that but couldn’t get any useful lead. Is it really true? (I actually almost adopt the teaching completely until I came across this wonderful post of yours and now i”m skeptical about the teaching as from the looks of it, you are way more experienced and skilled than the guy).

    Thanks for all your amazing efforts in providing us with all this prayer answering posts coming from your years of hard earned experience and all that for FREE? Sincerely, if the world could have more of someone like you Sir, I’m sure the world will be a better place.

    • Hey Dare,

      That is a good question and I have to say I don’t know the definite answer. Actually, I have not heard of this before so I did a quick research.

      The engineer was probably talking about the reduction of a bit resolution(?). I also saw Tarekith talking about the same thing in his “Leveling Guide” (http://tarekith.com/assets/Leveling.html). He said that lowering the master fader lowers the bit depth of the audio output as well. Whether this is audible to human ear, I don’t know. Most likely not. At least I don’t hear the difference.

      However, lot of producers coming from the “analogue world” (using analogue mixers, etc) recommends to dropping the INDIVIDUAL channel volume faders instead and keeping the master channel volume to 0 db to avoid clipping. Then again, others say it doesn’t matter in the digital world and with modern DAW’s. I’m usually using the drop-the-master-volume-fader -method and so far been completely happy with it. But then again, I’m just a hobbyist so what I’m telling you may not be the best practice, and if the guy in that video is an engineer, trust me – he knows these things way better than I do 😎

    • I asked about this on the Image-Line forums and the guys told me that if you export using the 32bit wav format, it’s not a problem.

      So use the 32bit and problem is solved 😎

  38. Thank you so much. Your comment is very useful. Yeah I have also tried listening carefully to spot the difference but everything sounds the same to my ear too. Yeah I think just to be save, I might have to try creating headroom from the mixer track volume.

    And by the way i have always been using 32bit rendering without even knowing what it does.

    Thank you so much Sir for finding the time. You are the best anytime!

  39. Hi Petri,
    I love your website and youtube channel. I have one question though, whenever i mix a song i can never seem to make it loud enough. I set my laptop volume to max and the master channel to 0 dB but whenever i export my song (with highest possible settings) everything seems just too quiet. I’ve been wondering if it’s my headphones (Bose AE2s) although while listening to commercial music everything sounds loud enough. I’m just wondering if there’s any way to fix this whether it be something in FL or an investment in some studio headphones. (i’ve been looking into the Sennheisers you reccomended in a previous article).
    Thanks for everything you do.

  40. Thanks Bro for this amazing and inspiring tuts,am new to this game and i was kinda giving up but since i started following your tut….am confident and 100% sure i can make produce music
    God bless you

  41. You mention “tuning” the drums briefly in this tutorial. I would add that I’ve found adjusting the pitch slightly of the individual drum instrument can vastly improve how the instrument sits in the mix.

    For me this seems to work well with claps/snares especially. If you have a drum sound you like, but it sounds a bit off when played with the whole song, I’d suggest playing with the pitch and see if that helps. πŸ™‚

  42. Xenotoxia on

    Hey Petri,

    Very good advice and amazing youtube videos! You are the god of 3Γ—Osc!

    1 question on mixing: If you reduce all instrument volumes to nothing at the start of the mixdown, how do you deal with volume automation clips that you might have put in previously? Does this mean that you have to insert all volume automation clips after the mixdown or that you have to tweak all current vol automation clips so that they stay at the right level? :S… I hope the question is clear.

    Thanks!

  43. Very nice tutorial. Another technique that I also use when mixing drums, I always start with the kick and the bass and try to find the most suitable balance between these 2 components, and afterwards I start mixing/balancing the other percussion elements, because sometimes it’s easier to get a good foundation for my mix, but you shouldn’t take it as a rule, maybe just like another method.

  44. This is realy great! Thanks, you are the best guy in the world that making electro music! πŸ˜€ But do you have a site or something there you uploading youre own songs? πŸ™‚ If you have it please answer fast becuse youre awesome in youre tuts! πŸ˜€

  45. Eko Logija on

    Thank you very much for these guidelines, and as you say we always learn something new! πŸ™‚

  46. Definitely good page, this is the guide i used to do my final mixdown after trying unsucessfully to find a guide anywhere else. I have videos and videos on the stuff and it was this text that got me where i felt most comfortable with my song, Cheers indeed

  47. Question. When you say you layer the Synth, does that mean you’re duplicating the exact Synth track 3 times, and then panning? Or are you referring to having 3 separate Synth parts?

  48. Wow, this truly is an incredible tutorial

    Can’t waitt to get home!

    Cheers Petri, you’re awesome!

  49. Hunain Sliche on

    HI Petri,

    First of all,, thank you so much for giving this tutorial. Really helped me a lot. Ive got a small question I have layered around 4-5 leads on my drop plus the bassline. Should I sidechain my kick to all the leads and the bassline or only to the main lead?
    Thanks again!

  50. Kount Sarpadeon on

    Well, this and the others on here are very helpful. Just got started myself, got two songs to my name, neither of which are mixed or mastered (I’m trying to put enough number together before buckling down on that) but I’ve tried some of it, like sidechaining my bass track to the kick drum, which worked very well. Tried the proposed three-main-synths, kinda nice, and I doubled up the pad, panned them right and left, nice, simple surround.

    What I don’t get is how to layer the drums, or if I’m supposed to divert them to the same insert, like, say 3 kick drums, all to Insert 1. The second question would be: when I sidechained the snare to the kick, it buried everything else, flattening the entire sound that came off worse than when I didn’t attempt any mixing at all! So that’s another thing – if I sidechain more than one thing to the kick, does the gain control them all, or just the kick in relation to the rest?

    One more. I haven’t used patterns/playlist yet, as I need to be able to have the whole thing on one screen I can edit as I’m listening through it, so I usually end up on Pattern 1 with 100+ bars, easy. My idea was to split the track into patterns (i.e. Pattern = Instrument) and THEN layer/edit/mix/etc. or is that just doing it backwards? I mean, will it help to have them all on one pattern?

    What’s making it harder is, I’m on a Vaio laptop, so it starts to skip and crack pretty quickly if add effects and stuff to more than two prominent tracks, or, if too many instruments are in one place. Can’t even listen to it on FLStudio without headphones, cracks up instantly.

  51. Jonathan Opio on

    Hi,

    I’m a regular on your site, and I have to start off by saying that you have made a huge impact on me as a beginner producer. I’ve learnt so much.

    I only have two questions….

    1. Is sidechain compression the same as sidechaining with let’s say Gross Beat [I use FL btw] or Kickstart?

    and
    2. Could you check on the link for the sidechain compression tutorial, because it says the page doesn’t exist when I try to follow the current one

    Thanks, in advance,
    Deole

    • Hey Deole,

      Glad to hear you’re finding the tutorials useful!

      Here’s some answers to your questions:

      1. Well, if you use it for achieving that ‘ducking’ effect, then yes. In the “real” sidechain compression, signal A (in EDM, that’s usually the kick) controls the amount of compression applied to signal B (bass, synth, etc in EDM). And keep in mind that compressor is basically an automatic gain controller. If you use Gross Beat for achieving that ducking effect, you basically draw manually how much you want the target signal level to duck.

      2. Did you try link? http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/how-to-use-sidechain-compression-in-fl-studio (let me know if it works or not)

      Hope this helps!

  52. Dj Gahman on

    Hey thanks bro now I know to do mixing it was giving me trouble I was forced to pay someone to do it for me just imagine paying for 10 tracks. Ey thanks so much

  53. Frederik Nordstroem on

    Hi there. Thanks a lot for a great tutorial, It is, really useful!

    I am a beginner too.

    So: what if some of my music is more dreamy and less aggressive? Should I just put the level of the bassdrum down a bit?

  54. Good article! I really like to use a transient shaper on claps and snares. And cabinet simulators with eq can be cool too.or chorus on the beat.Then, I ll compress the beat.

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.