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Question about mixing music..


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I notice in pretty much every CD I have, some instruments are kept in only the left channel and some in just the right.. why not keep them in both? Is this a certain rule to adhere by, or just the way people produce things?


Also, when it comes to mixing/mastering I really don't know anything about it, but I assume the basic idea is to make sure everything element is heard well among the others (unless thats partially not your intention), and to make sure that the song performs well on a variety of speakers from computer to car to studio speakers - and this would involve alot of time and fine tuning and a fine ear for the subtleties, correct?


I'm just thinking when it comes time to mix/master my CD I should let a studio do it.. I like to think, based upon my assumption above, that I could do it.. seems like alot of work, but the idea seems easy enough for me. But I guess it couldnt' be farther from the truth, right? ;)

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I don't think there are any "hard" rules about instrument placement. Used to be that bass and kick were kept center in the days of vinyl.


You can put things anywhere you want. If possible have a listen in mono just to see if you've got any phasing problems. But who knows, you may want phasing problems. What you said about checking mixes on different systems is correct and will help you.


It's a good idea to have an outside studio do the mastering (if it's something that they specialize in). Pro mastering really does make a difference in the final sound.


Michael Oster

F7 Sound and Vision

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There's a phenomenon in mixing that when you have instruments with overlapping frequency ranges, the louder one will mask out that frequency range of the quieter one. This effect is one of the reasons why instruments sound different in a mix compared to when soloed.


One way to get around the problem of overlapping frequency ranges is to pan the offending instruments apart. Another way is to use EQ.


Of course, panning is also just done to create a "soundscape" so to speak.


Mixing is really challenging and frustrating. I used to think it was just about adjusting volumes.


There's a lot of good mixing references on the web, or you might look at B. Owsinski "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook".

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