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

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XOXaminXOX

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

Petri Suhonen

Hi,

Do you mean using it for monoizing the song? Or spreading the stereo image?

KizzleTheKonqueror

they mean’t monoizing, 100% to the right will merge both the left and right signals together so they are both overlapped on each side, simulating a mono signal output while still in stereo.

These were really helpful for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4qPwFgPIZA

&

(this one is in russian) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYvPlQWXEhY

Ercks giba

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

Petri Suhonen

Hey there,

That’s a bit of a uncommon problem as usually people are complaining their tracks aren’t loud enough compared to commercial tracks (loudness war).

Can you be more specific how it’s too loud? Are you comparing the tracks (your track and commercial tracks) side-by-side using same mp3/cd player at exactly same output volume?

kekko

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!

Petri Suhonen
Hey kekko, I’m not quite sure if I understood your question correctly, but if you are hearing MAJOR phasing problems on the most important sound or sounds in your track when you monoize it, you might want to check what stereo widening -type of effects (if any) you are using on these sounds and maybe try different settings on these effects or even disable them and see if you can make them work better that way in mono (while keeping them sound good in stereo as well…). For example, I wouldn’t recommend using any stereo widening type of effects at… Read more »
Root Canal

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

Petri Suhonen

Np, thanks for checking it! 😎

To your request though: maybe some day, but I’m afraid not anytime soon sorrry

Jason

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

Rodnick

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

Petri Suhonen

Rodnick,

That sounded pretty good! To my ears, everything is balanced and clear.. 😎 (Which tip did you use on that track by the way?)

However, maybe you could try to “spread” some of the sounds a little to add a bit more stereo width (?)

Other than that, it sounds cool 😎

Rodnick
I used the “Mono-Tip” and heard some sounds disappearing, especially the vocal. I’ll keep that in mind and to spread some of the sounds, my speakers aren’t that good so I’ll try using headphones. To be quit frank with you. I used to “SUCK” at making music and I blamed it all on FL Studio. I thought other DAW’s made better music till I bumped into this wonderful website which was a huge eye-opener for me. I had hundreds of “free plug-ins” collected from all over the web, But still I had no good music. You kind of showed me… Read more »
Kaotonix

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

Petri Suhonen

Np!

David Abbot

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!

Petri Suhonen

No problem, David. 😎

blesser

I want my sond sound good and profissional too

shivprasad

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

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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