HOW TO MIX YOUR TRACKS
Writing and recording the instrument parts is only half the battle. Making those parts sound good together, and making the final song sing out on car stereos, smartphones, radios, and Bluetooth speakers, comes down to the mix.
Starting at complexity level one, consider the volume and pan of each track. In the traditional rock band setup, vocals and bass live in the middle of the mix, while guitars and other instruments are panned either side, and drums live across the full stereo spread. In EDM, similar principles apply: vocals and bass in the middle, other parts either side. Adjust the pan on your tracks until you can hear them all distinctly, then make adjustments in volume so it sounds like each part has breathing space, or to put it another way, so that parts don’t sound like they’re competing to be heard. Weak vocal or instrumental recordings can be hidden in the mix by lowering the volume, but that’s a poor substitution for getting a good track down in the first place.
Complexity level two is compression. A compressor sets the minimum and maximum volume of a track, and can be used to tighten up an individual part and the entire song. Every chart song you hear has some level of compression applied to every track, then the master track, and then another during the mastering process. At a bare minimum, they should be applied to vocals and any instruments with a wide dynamic range, such as a guitar played softly in the verse, then strummed hard in the chorus.
Complexity level three—ready?—comes with auxiliary tracks. Place effects such as reverb and delay on aux tracks, then send an instrument track to it, and thereby achieve a mix of dry and effect-laden sound. Easy, no?
A little goes a long way when it comes to applying effectsto your tracks.