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Soundproof Studio Professions: Mix Engineer

We at Soundproof Studios enjoy the process of engineering soundproof windows and soundproof doors for elite recording studios. There is something about the detailed project refinement that is especially attractive. We also enjoy collaborating with studio designers to create spaces that foster creativity and productivity. Our environments influence our moods and the work we’re able to accomplish. A highly effective recording studio will deliver outstanding results to a variety of different professionals. In this article we look at some of the basics of mix engineering and how mix engineers benefit from well-designed soundproof studios.

Get to Know a Mix Engineer

One profession that heavily relies on a well-designed soundproof studio is Mix Engineering. A mix engineer ties together different tracks of different instruments, vocals and sounds and arranges them in the audio output in a very particular way.

Mix engineers layer the sounds in a myriad of different ways for different effects and for different types of music.

Wickimedia shows us here some of the basics of mix engineering.

Mix engineer graphic“When we’re recording a song, all the individual instruments get recorded separately onto a track. The very first recordings were all done mono; that means we could only play it back over one speaker and it was captured with just one microphone.

So in order to create a balance between the individual instruments, we had to move the musicians through the room. So if someone would have played a solo, they had to step up and walk towards the microphone.

Going back to modern times, where most of the people listen to their music over two speakers or over headphones, we’re now working towards a stereo mixdown.

Even if you’re doing electronic music, this is still theory that’s gonna apply to you.

Let’s take a band that we’re going to be recording and mixing. We’ve got a drum-kit; we’ve got a bass player; we’ve got two guitar players; we’ve got a keyboard player, and we’ve got a small brass section.

We’re going to be placing a microphone in front of every instrument. Every microphone is transmitting a mono-signal which is being fed into the mixing console where we take care of the levels, and that’s being sent to tape.

Of course, this is now mainly done on the computer, so we’re recording it inside a computer, but I’m still going to be using the reference of the tape machine a lot just for the simplicity of understanding signal flow.

The the band has played their song and now we have recorded eight separate tracks of their instruments. Now we’re going to start with the mix-phase, and we’re basically going to be fitting the whole band into two speakers.

I’m drawing an illustration right here that’s going to represent that. We’re going to be fitting everything between the left and the right speaker and we should visualize a three-dimensional space in between those speakers where we’re going to be placing our mix in.

We can move instruments forward and backward by changing the volume or fader-riding. This is basically moving sounds over the Z-axis. With the pan-knob on each channel we can move them from left and right between our speakers.

When we are panning sounds in the middle it means that they come just as loud out of the right speaker.

We then talk about panning sound into the phantom-image, because on a stereo mix we don’t have any speakers in the center.

We can kind of place instruments over the vertical axis with the means of frequency assuming that the bass is low and the treble is high. That means that we can basically now visualize our whole mix in 3D-space.

So this illustration makes the concept of placing the sounds into a 3D environment a lot more understandable. Let’s take a look at how we can illustrate some mixes.

Let’s start off with the simple eight-track recording that we’ve just done. Normally when we’re mixing we are using the audience’s view as our perspective.

We had two guitar players which were standing at both sides of the room, so it would be nice to kind of pan the first guitar a little bit to the left and the second one a little bit to the right.

This will create a little bit of space in our mix and it will reflect the way that it was. A good rule of thumb is that we always want bass frequencies to come out of the center. So the kick drum and the bass-line will be placed in the center, or the phantom-image.

The keys were on the left side of the room and the brass section was on the right side, so we’re going to pan that accordingly as well. This is already creating a very rich stereo image.

So let’s take a look at some styles of mixing that we can apply.

Here we can see a very open and defined mix. The gaps in between the instruments can be filled up with a little bit of reverb. This can create an aura around an instrument. This is something which is really open and defined, so it could fit very well for a jazz-mix for example.

Right here we have a more commercial type of mix which we could call the “wall of sound”. The focus of these types of mixes normally lays on the vocals, which seem to be kind  of like in front of the band or at least in front of the music.

So a lot of commercial productions, whether it be pop or dance or hip-hop or even a pop/rock type of song, this type of mixing style is applied a lot.

If we’re going to take a look at more underground productions, you can see that the vocals are not that upfront as in these commercial types of mixes. so it could very well be that the mix you’re going for doesn’t have to have your vocals really upfront like in a commercial type of product.

You should go for the sound that fits your song and the type of production. So when we start off with a mix it kind of looks like this. you can see that everything is still in the middle and also frequency-wise it’s definitely still a mess.

So we’re going to start with the volume and the panning and place all the instruments where we want them to be. you can see this already cleans up a lot and makes a lot of things more defined and separated.

Where there’s still too much overlapping frequencies and we needed to define something a little bit more we can filter off some of the frequencies that we don’t need, and highlight some of the frequencies that we need to give a little bit of extra sparkle with the use of an equalizer.

When the dynamics of certain instruments are fluctuating too much like for example on the bass or on the snare, and we want to tame those peaks we can use a compressor to make sure that these stay in balance a little bit better. “

Soundproof Studios Delivers an Exceptional Mixing Environment

Mix engineers that work in studios need a wide variety of skills and technology to succeed in the industry. Artists need talented mix engineers to achieve an exceptional album.

Recording studio windows and acoustical steel doors are indispensable studio soundproofing products.

Our products reduce the noise pollution that can enter a room by an impressive margin. When you’re a sound professional, every unexpected blip, boop and bop can make your job more difficult. A recording studio insulated from outside sound can reduce production costs of music recording by reducing processing time.

Did we mention that our products are custom-designed for every client? Our customized products all for next-level sound not available with more hastily designed products.

Mix engineers heavily rely on A/B-style testing with tracks where they compare, layer and refine tracks. This very detailed work and the concentration necessary to do it benefit from a doors and windows with major noise-stopping power. Our products at Soundproof Studios have the power!

Call Soundproof Studios at 877-438-7843 to request your free estimate!