Tech Tip:- Creating Your CD, Part II: Mixing

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


By Dennis Kambury

After all that hard work recording, you'll be ready to listen to your new CD - but be patient - it's not quite ready for prime time. Before your disc goes for the gold, the raw ingredients have to be mixed together to create the right balance among vocals, lead, and rhythm instruments.

Sculpting The Tracks

If the recording engineer is also doing the mix, he'll already have a good idea about basic levels for each instrument. The real creativity comes with positioning the instruments for space and depth, allowing each one to be heard clearly without it taking over the mix. This involves panning across the soundfield; adding reverb, dynamics, and other effects; adjusting EQ; and setting levels.

It's very common for new talent to want to hear more of themselves in the mix - after all, your guitar solo is sick... that kick drives the song... you have to hear those lyrics! While each of those statements may be true, the key word for a good mix is balance.

But balance doesn't mean static. Mixing is a dynamic art, and you'll often find a good mix engineer riding the faders to adjust for variable playing levels, to highlight a particular instrument during solos, or just to achieve a livelier mix.

The Mixdown

As for each song is completed, the mix is transferred to the two-track master recorder. In the old days, this would generally be a two-track open-reel deck. But today, the mixdown deck can be a DAT, CD recorder (the Alesis Masterlink is a popular choice here), 1/4" or 1/2" open-reel decks, or even a good old-fashioned cassette deck.

One by one, your songs are mixed and placed on the two-track master until at last your project is done. Or is it?

What's next?

The final step in a CD project is mastering and duplication. Tune in next time when we'll cover these last crucial steps. Until then, happy recording!