020 MixCoach Minute – What is the correct order for mixing?

In this MixCoach Minute, I want to show you why the order in which you mix will make a difference in the final product.


Raw Transcript:

Hey guys. It’s Kevin with MixCoach. This is another episode of the MixCoach
Minute and MixCoach Minute is brought to you by MixCoach Member. It’s an
online community that is designed to help you be the best mixer you can
possibly be by giving you mix feedback every month.

Even if you don’t submit your mixes every month on MixCoach you can listen
to the feedback that myself or John or Leo or whoever else has commented or
any combination of those people will give recorded feedback on every song
that’s submitted.

If you don’t get your own song listened to then there’s a lot to be learned
from listening to John or Leo or myself analyze someone else’s mix. There’s
a lot to learn there. I’ve noticed that there are hours and hours of that
stuff every month, so you’ve got a lot to learn from Mix Coach Members.
Check it out if you get a chance, okay?

Okay, today’s question, again, it’s not really a question it’s an issue
that we were having when we were mixing. Showing a friend of mine how to
mix and in showing him it cleared up some things for me as to what most
everybody would probably want to know about mixing. What order do you mix
things in?

If you’ve been a MixCoach Member or if you’ve listened to any of my blog
posts or some of my videos that I’ve put out you’ll know I have this thing
call a hierarchy of mixing. What that is is basically you get your drums
and bass done first and then you get your supporting instruments mixed
after the drums and then you do background vocals and then you do vocals.

The importance of mixing it that way is that I was showing my friend how to
mix and I said what we need to do that we’ve got the static mix which we
talked about yesterday. We got the static mix in place now we’re going to
take it apart. We’re going to take the top part off which is the lead vocal
or it could be the lead vocals if it’s a trio, quartet, quintet. You take
those vocals out and you can even dissect those a little bit more but take
those off right now.

Now you’ve got this flat top pyramid and the part that’s on the top is the
most important part to your ear and another principle I have is what you
mix what’s last is loudest, almost all the time. You want whatever is on
the top, whatever you’re concentrating on, in this case, we were mixing
background vocals. So we took the lead vocal out and we mixed the
background vocals. What’s on the background vocals that is most important
to your ears so you’re going to give that the most attention.

Now you say that might sound simple but if you’ve written the background
vocals and they were in place and it’s like it’s their record they may be
too loud. You may want to pull them back just a little bit but then you can
put the vocals on the top of the mix and now everything is supporting the

Now you want to ride the vocals because your ear will make you mix what’s
last, it will make you mix it louder than anything else. So use that to
your advantage.

A couple of things that you might run into if you don’t mix like this is
that let’s just say you want to mix everything all at once. You don’t want
to take the mix apart at all. You’ve got the lead vocal and it’s loud and
everything and then if you were to mute that you would probably notice
there’s a lot of detail going on underneath the lead vocal like maybe a
background vocal a cool harmony thing that came out or maybe it’s a guitar
fill that needed to come up. Maybe it’s a drum fill that you never heard
because your ear is concentrating on the thing you’re mixing which is the
lead vocal. Whatever is important.

Keep that in mind when you’re mixing. The order in which you mix does make
a difference. So my suggestion is to mix in this order, mix with drums and
bass and this is all typical, now this could change depending on the kind
of music but this is just a suggestion that you can change and feel free to
take what I’m saying and make it yours.

But mix drums and bass first and when I say mix I mean balance it. Remember
we don’t push faders around until the last possible minutes. Balance drums
and bass and then do your instruments. Even if you want to separate those
into keyboards and guitars or strings and brass or all that stuff together.
That’s all on the second level.

On the third level would be background vocals and supporting vocals. You
mix those and then the last thing would be lead vocal. Now that’s only on
lyric driven stuff or vocal driven stuff. Let’s say you’re mixing a jazz
record. You probably want to make the solo saxophone or the solo guitar
last. So what order you mix it in does make a difference. Try that next
time and let me know if it helps.

Come by and check out Mix Coach Member when you get a chance, all right?
Talk to you tomorrow. Bye.

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  1. You said that you should balance everything first and push faders around at the last possible moment, what do you mean by balance ?

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