We’ve talked a bit in the past about leaving your own sonic imprint to everything you work on. Whether you do so intentionally, or it’s a subconscious result of your workflow and approach, it’s undeniable that every single producer, engineer & mixer adds their own sound to each and every song they touch.
One of the biggest places you can leave your mark on a mix doesn’t actually involve a single instrument, but your song and session as a whole.
Consider these tips as you wrap up your next mix, and you might find that adding your stamp of approval is easier than you ever thought possible…
Take Advantage of Your Master Fader
Too often, I see mixers set up a Master section in their mix just to check that they’re not clipping on the way out. They’re using it for monitoring, but not much else.
Master faders have a lot of flexibility that they can add to any mixer’s arsenal.
Consider using your Master fader to make small tweaks to your overall sound. There’s no need to add crazy effects, but a little “pre-mastering” can be helpful when trying to convey your vision to a band or mastering engineer.
Things like small volume increases on your choruses can be achieve with a very transparent sound because it’s being applied after all other processing. You’ll never have to work about how changing your level affects the mix going into another plugin – it’s on its way out of your DAW.
Glue It All Together
The most common way to bring a final mix together with your own sonic imprint is through bus compression, especially when it’s applied to your mix bus. Plugins like BG-Mix have been optimized to work their best on your Master fader. They work to pull all of your instruments and subgroups together, and while there might be some bus compression happening before this already, a bus compressor on the way out adds a final checkpoint for any stray transients/peaks.
Finding the right amount of compression to use on the way out can be tough – you’ve got to walk the link between a bit of glue and an over-compressed nightmare.
There’s nothing worse than providing a mastering engineer than something that’s been overcooked by mix bus compression. Undoing the damage and trying to add some separation back to the mix is a lot harder than doing the reverse.
However, as long as you take a cautious approach and keep an eye on your meters, there’s no reason a final mix can’t be glued and dynamic at the same time.
Start light. If you’re just starting to incorporate bus compression in your mixes, take it easy at first with lower compression levels. Set your Mix knob settings low too – the more you add of the original source, the less apparent your compression is.
Once you’ve built up some confidence, feel free to start using your compressor more boldly and start trying out different features like the integrated Clip circuit in BG-Mix for bolder sounds.
The Final Mix
Once you’ve printed your final mix, it’s always a good idea to listen back and be overly critical. Does this mix sound like something you’d be proud to show off? Does it represent your capabilities as a mixer?
If you can answer “Yes” to both of these questions, you’re well on your way to forging your own signature sound.
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