Mixing and Recording with Style
You can play all day, but with recording, the real sound is all in the mix. Mixing a CD with the different sounds, can help you to achieve a variety of things, and is one of the most important tools for putting your CD together with the different instrumentation and capabilities. Defining the process of mixing and how you can use it effectively will make all the difference in how your CD sounds in the end.
The first thing to recognize is that there are two areas where mixing takes place. The first is before anyone records onto a track. All of the mixing that takes place at this point happens between the musicians and through the sound board. This type of mixing will help to define the instrumentation for the computer software programs as well as for the musicians that are working with the mixer.
The most important part of this type of mixing is to make sure that all of the instrumentation is leveled and even with each other. It is not necessarily finding a blend, but instead, creating similar volume levels and even balance between the different instruments. This also helps to prepare the tracks for the final recording, which will include noise gates and deadening the sound so that the waves are able to be manipulated.
This stage of mixing is then redefined after all of the tracks are recorded. The mixing process after this point is dependent on finding the individual instruments, their strong areas and making sure that they sound right with those areas. By the time you begin mixing within the software program that you are using, all of the instruments should be normalized. This means that the peak points of the waves will be at the same number that is calculated through the noise levels of the wave.
Mixing then becomes a way to enhance the individual instruments through the piece. While doing this, you will want to be thinking of the other instruments and how they link to this; however, this is not as important as the need to bring out the best in the instrument that you are using. There are a variety of components that you can use to do this and to make sure that your mix in the end has a better sound.
The first part of the mix that you can use is enhancing the sound through special effects. Each of the instruments can have their own, or can have equal effects that allows everything to sound unique. Things like creating effects for a certain type of room so that there is more resonance to building reverb around instruments are all effective parts of the mixing process that enhances the instruments.
After you have the effects, you can take the wave files and make sure that the necessary areas of each instrument are enhanced. You will want to create things such as volume envelopes throughout the piece in order to bring out individual instruments in some places and to let them be in the background in other areas. This will help you to define what you want to come out the most in the song. You will also want to create levels of highs and lows within the waves of the individual instruments so that everything remains balanced within the song and with the specific instrument. The last step to the mixing process is defining the volume level and figuring out whether you want to move the levels up or keep them the same.
Remember to always give yourself room with the volume levels so that you can balance out the levels during the pre-mastering and mastering stages as well.
By the end of the mixing process within the software program, you will be able to have all of the instruments equalised out with their volume levels, effects and different areas of sound. This will allow you to begin to blend in the instruments, first individually and then as a group. By understanding the details of mixing, you will have more abilities to create the exact sound that you want for your piece.
In recording, there are a variety of ways to capture the sounds that you want and to filter out the ones that you don't want. These are all done through the capacities of equipment parts known as signal processors. Typically, signal processors will be used during the pre-mixing and mixing stage as well as the set up of instruments. They are also used as a combination of defining what the instruments need to turn into a wave and what the mixing can do to make the instruments sound at their best. Following are some basic signal processors you should know.
Equalisation. This is also known as EQs and is used in a variety of places of the recording process. The main part of this is to create a balance between the ranges that are within each instrument, from the low to the mid and high ranges. Equalization processors can be found in mixing boards as balance knobs as well as specialized functions in different types of software.
Filters. This is done to take out the extra sounds that don't fit into the song. For example, if you have a buzz or white noise that you can't get out physically, you can filter the sound and allow for only the clarity to come through. This is done by isolating the wave and recalculating the wave instead of the noise underneath.
Reverberation. This is an effect that is used after the instruments are recorded into the software. Reverb allows for the resonance that would be heard in a natural setting to be implemented into the song. This type of setting works best for sounds that are already clear and need an extra effect to them.
Delay. This is the echo effect of signal processors. Delays come in a variety of formats, ranging from changing the room to a larger room to an echo effect that stops the sound from occurring by milliseconds. Depending on the technique and sound you are trying to create, you can use this specific tool to create a completely different sound in your music.
Dynamic Processing. This consists of a variety of options for recording, all which take place at the very beginning of the process of recording. The first type of processing is compression in which the wave will be limited to certain peaks on both sides, allowing it to stay closer to the middle. The second type of processing is expansion, in which the waves move to higher peaks that are away from the middle. Limiting is the third option, and stops the notes from sounding for a longer period of time. The last type of dynamic processing is noise gates, which stops certain sounds from being recorded, especially if it is based around the resonance of an instrument.
Noise Reduction. This is done in order to dampen the noises that are being heard through the recording process and is typically done at every step of recording. Noise reduction will include the ability to limit sounds and to reduce the lows or highs that don't need to be heard with certain sound effects.
These main signal processors are used in order to control the recording process and sounds as well as to create the desired effects for the end result. By using these different components at different times, it becomes easier to effectively create the sound you want through your recordings.