Here’s a question I get surprisingly often.

It’s a question about mixing virtual instruments.

Whether you use a ton of virtual instruments or none, this advice will help you think through mixing decisions.

The question usually goes something like this:

“When I’m mixing a song using EZDrummer, should I add any EQ or compression to the drums? Or should I leave them alone?”

OR

“Hey, I’ve got a song with lots of virtual instruments, like strings and pianos. Should I EQ those or leave them alone?”

Sigh…

While I understand where these questions come from, I don’t get why people assume virtual instruments are exempt from the same criteria as “real” instruments.

The answer to these questions is actually really simple.

Here it is:

DO WHAT SOUNDS BEST.

Do what’s best for the song.

If you’re not completely happy with the kick drum sound, by all means change it until your happy!

It doesn’t matter if it’s “real” or “fake.” It’s just a track in your mix. Do what needs to be done to make it sound great.

That’s not the easy answer.

It’s not the popular answer (because it requires people to think for themselves and actually put in some effort).

But it’s the right answer.

The best way to get good at making these kinds of decisions (to EQ or not to EQ?) is to log plenty of practice hours.

Good news, I’ve got plenty of tracks available over at Mix Practice.

On the first album (Out of Indiana), all the drums were created using EZDrummer.

On the second album (Help of the Helpless), all the drums are real drums recorded in my buddy Tim Horsley’s home studio.

Get your hands dirty mixing both.

Get better.

(And have fun, too.)

Here’s the link:

www.HomeStudioCorner.com/practice

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

  • Felipe

    This was one of the questions I asked when I was starting. The real question was: are virtual instruments already EQed and Compressed? Why should I compress more if it´s already compressed? Will I make it worse by trying to compress more?
    And then I realised the answer was : “it depends”…

  • BluMondie

    Great blog Joe.. Just do what one has to in order to accomplish what’s needed! Namaste!

  • Sean

    But i want Joe to think for me and tell me the magic secret to amazing mixes. Why is this too much to ask?

    • Okay, okay. I give in. I will tell you the secret. The secret is….