With the explosion of home recording software and components, it's easier than ever to make your own music and record it without paying to rent an expensive studio. Recording at home is a fast and easy way to get your musical ideas down in a permanent form. At your own pace, you can craft individual songs or an entire album. Not only does this at-home method allow you to realize your music-making ambitions, it will also teach you quite a bit about the art of recording music.
Mixing music is the process of combining the various recorded tracks in such a way that they sound harmonious with each other. In other words, it's about getting a song to sound full, even and balanced. There are countless schools of thought when it comes to mixing. The gist of mixing is that you want all of the instruments–including the vocals, if any–to create a pleasant listening experience. Nothing should be too loud or too soft, but some components are typically placed higher in the mix than others. That's another way of saying louder and more distinct.
To make easy music mixes, you'll first have to have the necessary recording gear and/or software. It's possible to spend less than $1,000 or $100,000 or more on a recording setup. It all depends upon your budget and desired outcome. By no means do you need the world's most expensive equipment to mix music. A good, discerning ear is arguably more important than high-priced gadgets, although you will need, at minimum:
- Mixing board
- Recording hardware or software
- Supplemental cables and stands
- Musical instruments
- A relatively noise-free space
There are many varieties of each of these components, so it's up to you how much you want to spend and the exact level of complexity you want.
Creating an Easy Music Mix
Once each track of a song is recorded–drums, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar and vocals, to give one possible example–it's time to begin the mixing process. Start with the rhythm section. Mix the drums first. If you recorded a drum set with one mic, the mixing is far less complex. However, most use several mics to record drums, so the levels of each must be set to create a harmonious, properly layered drum sound. Next, you will mix the bass guitar relative to the drum mix. The bass should be lower in the mix but not too low. It should also be right in the center so it's heard through both left and right channels.
Guitars emit sound at higher frequencies, so they will be more vibrant in a mix. If there are 2 guitars, try spacing them out in terms of panning. Lead guitar should be clear without being overbearing, and neither should drown out the bass and drums–and vice versa. Finally, you will mix in the vocals. Vocals should be high and easily heard in a mix. Like the rhythm section, they should be dead center to achieve an even sound. Sometimes the hardest part of mixing a song is getting the right balance between the vocals and the guitars since they often operate in similar frequencies. Experiment with different mixes, playing with the placement, gain and other mixing features to find the right sound.