DA Studios: Grabbitz’s 5 tips for the perfect mixdown
We at Dancing Astronaut are proud to bring back DA Studios, a feature that dives into the world of production. In partnership with Point Blank Music School, DA Studios is returning weekly, with a variety installments that will include guest posts from artists offering inside tips, detailed looks into the minds and tools of producers, diary entries from Point Blank students and much more.
Expect to hear from your favorite artists and to learn about their worlds when they leave the decks and hit the studio. Dancing Astronaut and Point Blank’s weekly series will be educational for music students, informative for fans, and entertaining for all.
This week we have Grabbitz with his 5 tips for the perfect mixdown. Known for his seven-minute deadmau5 collaboration “Blood for the Bloodgoat” and his more recent “Friends” EP that includes an acclaimed Faustix collaboration of the same name, Grabbitz has become one of the producers to watch as we hit the fourth quarter of 2015.
With a two-track EP dropping on Monday and another single due before year-end, Grabbitz hits DA Studios hot with his mixdown tips, or as he puts it; “just some things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me get my mixes where I like them.”
1. Take advantage of your stereo field to make your mixes wider
It seems obvious, but any good producer/engineer will have a grasp of what needs to be spread and what needs to stay central. Start experimenting with different panning techniques, but always keep the balance of your mix in mind, and always check for phasing.
2. Use group compression to have complete control over all elements in your mix
As your mixes start to get more complex, there will be plenty of elements and tracks that you need to keep an eye on. Bundle your tracks together into groups like ‘drums’ or ‘mid-basses’ and compress them as a whole. This can help maintain a consistent sound and act as a glue that will keep those elements together.
3. Take breaks
You will butcher your mix if you work on it and tweak it for 5 hours straight, especially if you have sensi-tive ears like me. Take frequent breaks during your session. On an even bigger scale, you may want to take a whole week off from that specific project. Some adjustments that stumped you before may be easy fixes now.
4. Know your frequency spectrum
This might be a classic tip, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to know where all of your ele-ments lie in the frequency spectrum. It’s important in the writing AND mixing stages. By improving this skill you will most likely avoid overcrowding certain areas of your mix, which will lead to cleaner and clearer sounds. Some plug-ins to help you train your ears and eyes are Fab-Filter Pro Q, and Waves Analyzer.
5. Make mixing decisions based on what’s best for your song
I’m not the best at using reference tracks, I don’t do it often, and it’s hard for me to conceptual-ize/compare. However, I know that referencing your favorite mixdowns can be useful. Whether or not you use this method, keep in mind that some of the techniques used in your reference track may not sound great when it’s applied to your track. For example, some tracks/masters scoop out some areas of the lows or low-mids in order to push other areas of the track to make it louder. You might have important infor-mation in those areas, so keep the integrity of your track in mind when using references.
The more you mix and get to know your ears, the better your mixes will be over time. Al-ways watch tutorials and ingest new information. Always be open to constructive criticism from qualified peers. – Grabbitz
For more expert tips, visit Point Blank, the award-winning music production and DJ school with classes in London, Los Angeles and online. Six-time ranked ‘Best DJ & Production School’ by DJ Mag, Point Blank offers ground-breaking courses taught by expert instruc-tors including songwriters, producers and Grammy award winners. Former students include: Claude VonStroke, Nicole Moudaber, Gareth Wyn, AlunaGeorge and more. Head to their site for production tips, tutorials or to sample an online course for free.