Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Mixing, part of GarageBand Essential Training.
Okay now that we've cleaned up and organized our track a bit, let's talk about mixing them together. Now, too many people spend too little time during this part. Try to remember that what you're creating here is the final version, or at least the first impression of the song, that anyone you choose to share this with is going to hear. So, be prepared to spend a decent amount of time mixing your song. In professional studios, it's not unheard of to spend anywhere between several hours, to several days mixing a single song. And figuring out exactly where every single instrument should sit in the mix. But don't worry, I'm not going to spend several hours mixing this example here, I just want you to know that it's common though, so don't beat yourself up if you find yourself spending what seems like a long time on your mix.
Just do it until you're happy with the mix, or at least until you feel like you can live with it. The first thing we should look at are the different level sliders in garage band. Because when you're mixing, you're adjusting the overall volume levels of each track in relation to the other tracks. So each track has its own level slider or fader. Now we also have an overall master volume fader up here and it's important to understand the difference between this and the track faders. The track faders are for setting the volume of the individual tracks only. The master fader is for setting the overall volume of your song. This is the volume the song will be set at when you export if from Garage Band.
So the important thing to remember here is that you should avoid using the master volume fader to adjust Garage Band's volume if you just want to hear your song louder or softer while you're mixing. For those cases, you should use your max volume control, which you can adjust either by using the volume keys on your keyboard If you have IM keys on your keyboard or using the volume control in the menu bar. If you don't see the volume control in the menu bar you can turn it on by going up to your system preferences, to sound and here you can check show volume in menu bar. And that's how you should be adjusting the level of the sound you're hearing from your computer. But again keep in mind that if you move this fader, say if I had it all the way down here.
Because it sounded comfortable to me there. That's how low the volume's going to be when it exports. From the option click that again. Again, option clicking sets the volume to zero decibels. And zero decibels in the recording world means that I'm neither boosting nor reducing the volume of the song. And that's a good place to start. Once you have that set, you can now start working on the individual track volumes. And as I mentioned previously, I like to start working with the rhythm section first. So let's start with the kick drum track and work our way down. I'm going to solo this track and play the song while keeping my eye on the track's level meter to make sure it isn't clicking or hitting the red.
Remember a little bit of yellow is okay, and even a touch of red sometimes, but you don't want the level meters pegged in the red the whole time. And if you hear distortion where there shouldn't be any, turn the level down. Generally in pop and rock music, the drums should be pretty loud, so I'm going to bear that in mind as I mix my drums. Right, so that's probably a good place to start. Now at this point too you might start doing things like playing with the EQ settings and the Smart Controls. So if I open up those controls and go to EQ, maybe I'll just a quick preset EQ here. While listening of course.
Alright, so my kick drum is sounding about right to me, and I'll continue working my way down setting the levels. I'll solo the snare here as well. And I'll set its general level. And that sounds pretty good to me in relation to the kick. And again maybe I'll open the smart controls. I already have the clean up snare options set here. Let's give it a listen anyway. I need to be hearing snare if I want to EQ it. Sounds a little better to me. I'm kind of coming into the red here, so lets move that down a little bit. This EQ kind of boosted those frequencies; I can bring the gain level down in the EQ a bit.
So I'm not pushing it too hard in the track controls. Bring the kick down just a little bit as well. Okay, so as you're working on each track, listen to it by itself, listen to it mixed in with the other tracks and decide what the sound needs or doesn't need. Maybe I want to even a little bit of reverb to the snare. So I go back to the controls, I come back to my audio units. Lets pick some reverb. I'll say keep and play and listen. You got to roll it back a little bit here. Mm-hm, let's try this Small Room again.
Now I think I kind of like how it's making the snare sound, but it's reduced its overall volume pretty significantly. Now I could again increase the volume using the fader, but I don't have a ton of room to work with here. So let's go back to the EQ, and I use the gain slider instead. Okay. So that works for me. And you should be getting the basic idea by this point. Basically, just continue soloing in the tracks and playing with their levels and sound. And, if necessary, add some plug-ins and other tools that you have at your disposal.
Let me just mix in the rest of the drums real quick here. So that's basically it in a nutshell, just continue down the line adding instruments back in. Now, as you work, you'll probably find that you will need to go back to readjust the levels or sounds of tracks you already added in, because the sound of certain tracks will affect the sound of other tracks. For instance, I'm not really liking the sound of that snare right now as I listen to it among all the other tracks. That could be a matter of the EQ, but it could also be a matter of the particular Drum Kit I'm using. Maybe I want to try a different Drum Kit by opening up the Library. And with the snare track selected I can try some different kits. Actually, I like that one a lot better, there we go, and eventually I would mix in all the other tracks.
Now when you're done, or done enough for your tastes, remember to un-solo all the tracks. And at that point you're probably ready to export, and share your project with the world, or at least export a version of the file so you can listen to it on another set of speakers. But really, I haven't even scratched the surface here when it comes to mixing. Because mixing is as much an art as playing an instrument is, and there's a lot to know about it. If this is something that interests you, be sure to check out the course called Audio Mixing Bootcamp here at lynda.com, which goes in-depth into topics like mixing, EQ, reverb, delay and a lot more.
- Creating a new project
- Adding tracks
- Working with loops
- Recording Software Instrument tracks
- Getting real sounds into your Mac
- Recording and compositing multiple tracks
- Arranging, editing, and mixing your project
- Sharing your music with the Share menu
- Controlling GarageBand remotely from an iPad
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 11/24/2014. What changed?
A: We added one new movie ("What's new in GarageBand 10.0.3") and revised three others ("Customizing the bass sound," "Using Audio Unit and third-party plugins," and "Using the Share menu") to reflect the changes in GarageBand 10.0.3.
Q: This course was updated on 8/03/2015. What changed?
A: We added two new movies, one covering the general 6/30/2015 update to GarageBand and one at the end of chapter 3 on working with and automating the new synth sounds and Transform Pad.