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In this course, author Bobby Owsinski reveals industry tips, tricks, and techniques for producing professionally mixed audio on any digital audio workstation. He offers recommendations for setting up an optimal listening environment, highlights the most efficient ways to set up and balance a mix, and shows how to build a powerful sound with compression. The course also explains how to master the intricacies of EQ; incorporate reverb, delay, and modulation effects; and generate the final mix.
After the rhythm section is balanced, it's time to add the rest of the instruments. The order in which that happens will depend upon the song and the arrangement, so let's look at our sample song as an example. So the idea here is we're going to bring the instruments in just at a level that we can hear them, so we don't overpower the rhythm section. The first thing we're going to bring in is the organ, because I like to bring the keyboards in first if there are keyboards in the song. You can start with any other instrument that you'd like, but for me, the keyboards seems to work because a lot of times they work as a pad, so they're kind of a bed instrument in a song.
(music playing) Next instrument I am going to bring in is guitar number one. In this case, it just says GUITAR. So we're going to bring this in, once again, to the point that we can hear it but it doesn't overpower the rhythm section. (music playing) Now, we are going to bring in guitar number two. Same thing.
We're going to bring it in just loud enough that we can hear it, not too loud that it overpowers the rhythm section, or any of the other instruments for that matter. (music playing) Now, guitar one and guitar two sound very, very similar, and it's very difficult to even differentiate between the two. We're going to fix that a little bit later with EQ, but for now we're going to leave it just the way it is.
Now, let's bring in the vocal. Now the vocal actually can be in several different places, in terms of balance. On a normal pop song, it's way out in front of the rhythm section. It's the most prominent, featured instrument in the mix. In a rock song, or in a song where you'd like the most power of the mix, usually it's back further in a mix. So let's bring this up to where it's like a typical pop mix, where it's up in front. (music playing) Now, you can hear this is just a little bit on top of the rhythm section.
It's still powerful, but what you really hear first and foremost is that vocal, and of course you hear this in a lot of pop songs. If we want to emphasize the power of the band, usually we'll bring that vocal back somewhat into the mix, not so much that we can't distinguish the words, but far enough back that the power of the mix is up in front. (music playing) So now we have it back farther in mix, and we can even bring it back farther.
There are some hit songs where you really have to listen hard to hear the words, and that's on purpose; that vocal is brought back far enough in the mix so you hear more of the power of the rhythm section. Either way is okay. It depends upon the song and it depends upon the mix that you're going for. Now, let's bring the background vocals in. The background vocals start in the B section of the song, so let's go there. We'll hit Command+5 or Ctrl+5, bring up our Memory Locations window, and B Section, close the Memory Locations window, and here we go! (music playing) So the background vocals are usually a little bit behind the lead vocals, as they are right now.
Sometimes they are equal to the lead vocals in level, but they're never above the lead vocal, or very rarely. So we want to start with them right about there. The last thing we're going to bring in is the percussion--in this case, it's the tambourine--and once again we're going to bring this up so we can just about hear it in the mix. (music playing) This is the balance of a rough mix, and generally speaking, it's only a place to start.
We're going to tweak it from here. It will get tweaked as we add compression, it will get tweaked as we add EQ to the instruments to make them more defined and bigger, and it will get tweaked when we add effects. So to sum it up, be careful that the instruments aren't too loud so that the rhythm section stays powerful. Also, remember that in pop songs the vocals are usually the loudest element in the mix, but to emphasize the groove, decrease the vocal level.
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