Audio/MIDI Mixing Procedure
There is not a singular way to mix down a song. Nevertheless, there is a logical flow to getting a song where you want it. Here’s mine:
- Flatten and merge comps (compilations of takes)
- Establish phase-locked groups (for any instruments recorded with multiple tracks)
- Bus groups (for applying effects across a range of tracks)
- Create universal sends for project reverb, delay, compression, etc.
- Process audio tracks in Flextime (non-Logic users employ your respective audio beat detection tool)
- Use appropriate method for tracks (i.e. monophonic for vocals, polyphonic for guitars, slicing or rhythmic for drums)
- Edit/correct timing as needed across tracks (I generally avoid brute quantization)
- If using any drum resampling, apply now
- Finalize any MIDI instruments
- Process vocals (and any other necessary tracks) with your choice of pitch correction plug-in
- Tune vocals or any other tracks necessary
LEVELS and MIX
From this point forward, you should be A/Bing the mix (i.e. listening to mix decisions on at least two different pairs of speakers) in as acoustically flat (or, at least, as predictable) of a room as possible
- Pan tracks
- Write volume automation across tracks
- Bring in effects:
- Start with vocals, then instrumentation
- Create reverb bus for project and send appropriate tracks post-fader (generally)
- Anything else
For most purposes, you should add effects to your group bus for a given instrument and not the individual tracks.
I don’t touch the master bus if the album is being mastered independently. This leaves adequate dynamic headroom and minimal coloration of the sound. If I am mastering an album, I still wait and do a true stereo master (with all songs for a given project).