Quick Mixing Tips: Check Your Mix At Low Levels And Mono

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Quick Mixing Tips Check Your Mix At Low Levels And Mono

Here’s two simple mixing tips that might help you to make your mixes sound even more balanced.

Check your mix at low volume level. When you’re mixing and your monitor speaker volume levels are relatively high, everything’s sounding pretty good. But try this: drop your speakers volume level to something really low. How does your mix sound now? Focus on listening the balance between sound/instrument levels, especially the key elements. Are they in balance in relation to each other? If some important sound or instrument doesn’t seem to cut through the mix or something’s coming out too loud, adjust the volume levels and/or use EQ to fix it.

When you mix at higher volume levels, your ears gets easily tired. That’s why it’s important to check your mix balance at lower volume levels as well.

This little trick has helped me to find a somewhat optimal balance on my own mixes.

Check your mix in mono. In electronic dance music that is aimed mostly for clubs it’s important that the mix sounds good in mono because many club sound systems are mono. But what should you listen to when you sum left and right channels?

Phase issues. Do you hear sounds in your mix getting too quiet or almost disappearing mysteriously at times when you listen it in mono? That’s phase cancellation which happens when two audio signals on the same frequency are out of phase in relation to each other and they get combined.

Below is a visualization. There’s two sine waves. Let’s assume the upper one is wave from left channel and lower one is wave from right channel. You can see that the  ‘crests’ of the waves are 180 degrees out of phase in relation to each other. When these sine waves get combined (summed), they cancel out each other.

Phase Cancellation

Of course, there’s varying degrees of phase cancellation. The signals can be out of phase by any degree and there’s a lot of different frequencies going on in the mix so you can expect all kind of artifacts in mono such as hollow and thin sound.

What usually causes the phase issues and how to deal with them? Many stereo widening effects and techniques (such as chorus) can cause them. I would say if the most important sounds/instruments in your mix are sounding weird in mono, you might wan’t to check and re-adjust the stereo effects on these sounds. Make sure they are clear and punchy in mono. However, don’t worry TOO much about how your mix sound in mono as you need that stereo depth and wideness in your mixes as well and after all: you are mixing in stereo anyways. As a rule of thumb I would say just make sure that the fundamentals of your mix (kick and bass) are working in both, mono and stereo. Just use the “mono check” as reference and do it occasionally while not putting too much effort on it… 😎

But how do you monoize your mix? In FL Studio, use the stereo separation filter in the Mixer and turn it all to way to right (100% merged). This will sum the left and right channels to mono.

MonoizeThe end 🙂

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About Author

Petri Suhonen is an electronic music hobbyist. He has been producing music with computers over a decade on such styles as trance, downtempo, ambient & experimental electronic using FL Studio.

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20 Comments on "Quick Mixing Tips: Check Your Mix At Low Levels And Mono"

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XOXaminXOX
XOXaminXOX
4 years 6 days ago

tnx petri….it was so usefull for me..is it enough to use just stereo separation? tnx….

Ercks giba
Ercks giba
4 years 6 days ago

I needed that thanks alot, another thing, my tracks are too loud when i compare them with other comercial tracks, any help?

kekko
kekko
4 years 4 days ago

maybe for my bad english i didn’t understand a couple of things. Regarding the “mono”, i must trasform the track in mono, and then how can i bring the sine waves to coincide? And once this is done, does the sound of my instrument will work better in stereo?

anyway, compliment for the very good blog!

Root Canal
4 years 4 days ago

Thanks man !
Could you have a
“how to master with izotope” tutorial ?
really need help in mastering

Jason
Jason
2 years 7 months ago

Mastering is a whole different ball game and is a very, very hard skill to learn.

Rodnick
3 years 11 months ago

Used Your Tip here: http://soundcloud.com/rodnickmusic/rodnick-ft-veela-another-dare
Please let me know what you think

Kaotonix
3 years 11 months ago

Your tips are always so useful Petri, thank you so much. You are a wonderful teacher.

David Abbot
3 years 6 months ago

Thanks for this. I actually started off mixing at just mono since I only had one monitor at the time because no money lol.
But the mixing in low is something I have never heard of before. Thanks for sharing!

blesser
blesser
3 years 6 months ago

I want my sond sound good and profissional too

shivprasad
shivprasad
3 years 3 months ago

hi..im a hobbyist music producer & remixer. when i mix trough flstudio 10 using headphones everything will be fine in mastering (maximus).but after exporting as wav and converting to mp3 and playing it in mp3 player,mobile there will be change in quality of the sound(low bass,high claps etc)..plz help me..post me to my email id.. Thanks

A
A
1 year 10 months ago

Am I the only one who has problems with the FL Keys plugin disappearing in mono? I mean come on, it’s a native plugin! And even if just leave it as default, no changes in settings, no changes in panning, no effects, it still acts like it’s canceling itself out. I can’t figure it out!

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