Mixing and sub-mixing

Just a few thoughts on the mixing subject. I'm no expert, but after many hours of experimentation, I've come to the conclusion that it's helpful to establish sub-mixes:

drum tracks (without kick drum)

electric bass guitar

kick drum

submix of the remaining instrument tracks

optional vocal track

The creations of these submixes greatly simplifies the mixing process. It makes it much easier to produce a final stereo mix.

I often create many different tracks: vibraphone, organ, rhythm guitars, lead guitars, synthesizers, gongs, sampled piano, elec Rhodes piano, etc. So all of these can be mixed down to one stereo track. This stereo track can then be adjusted- for example the mid-highs can be intensified with EQ. The mono kick track is usually a submix of a bassy thud along with another track that is characterized by the higher frequencies of the clicking beater sound. It's really nice to always have the option of adjusting the levels of a kick track or elec bass track. It's a nice luxury to be able to create the final mix from these 4 or 5 tracks, rather than juggling all 30 tracks. So each project in Sonar will now have two versions- the version that has all of the individual tracks, and the simpler version that has the newer submixes.I imagine that similar strategy could be used for those doing orchestral arrangements. Submixes can be created by grouping orchestral sections together:

string section

brass, etc.

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  • Ha! I think I'll try mixing the drum tracks first, for a change. Usually I wait, mixing the drums as one of the last steps. I use parallel compression on the drum submix to thicken it up without affecting the transient peaks. Also EQ'ing the snare drum is often a real challenge. 

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