Day 27 – Use Automation (Secret Weapon) [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 27 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

Once you’ve set the levels and panning for your mix, and you’ve dialed in the EQ and compression to just the right amount, you’re done, right?

Not quite.

What you have right now is what’s called a “static mix.”

There’s a “secret weapon” that you should know about. It’s called automation.

Most of you probably know what automation is, but do you use it in your mixes? Or is it something you think doesn’t matter? Well, I have a few reasons why you SHOULD use automation in your mixes.


Day 25 – Carve Out Space For Each Instrument [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 25 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

If you hang around recording circles for very long, you’ll inevitably hear someone talking about “carving out a place in the mix for each instrument.”

Sounds really smart and artsy, right?

But what does it MEAN?! That’s a fair question.

When you’re mixing a song, whether you’re dealing with a few tracks or several dozen, you are assigned with the task of somehow combining all of those tracks into a pretty, cohesive, smooth-sounding mix.

Consider baking a cake. Just because you throw flour, eggs, sugar, etc. into a bowl doesn’t mean you’re going to end up with a cake. You’ve got to know what proportions to use, or you’ll end up with something gross.


Day 22 – Setting Levels for Mixing [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 22 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

Have you ever played the red light game?

No, not “red light, green light.” I’m referring to the game you play while you’re mixing a song. You’re so close to being finished…you can taste it. You make a little tweak here, a little fader move there, then BAM.

The red clip light goes off.

You hunt down the light, click on it to make it go away, then adjust the level of that track down a bit. Okay, crisis averted, back to mixing.

But wait, now the mix doesn’t sound quite as good as before. Since you had to turn that one track down (because it was clipping), you need to turn down all the other tracks a little bit to make everything balanced again.


Day 21 – Mixing: Identify the Focus [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 21 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

Mixing, mixing, mixing.

I love to mix. I really do. There’s something deeply satisfying about taking a bunch of tracks and making them blend together nicely into one cohesive, rock-solid mix.

Over the next several days, I’m going to share some mixing tips as a part of this last “trimester” of 31 Days to Better Recordings. 🙂

But before we jump in and start talking EQ, compression, reverb, and the like, we need to take a few minutes to set the stage for the mix.

What’s your process for starting a mix? Do you just dive in and start EQ-ing the kick drum? Do you default by putting your favorite EQ and compressor on every channel?

Easy there, turbo. 🙂

Just like we talked about going through the pre-production process before you start recording, it’s important to take some time before a mix session to identify the focus.


Using Distortion on Vocals [Video]

Are you ever mixing a song, and the vocal just won’t cut through? You try to EQ out some lows or boost some highs. Nothing. You try to compress the daylights out of it. Still not cutting through enough. Try using distortion.

I’m not talking about distorted vocals. I’m talking about using distortion to help the vocals cut through. Check out this video, then leave a comment!


Audio Examples: Production Club Before & After

We spend a lot of time on mixing in the HSC Production Club. Almost five weeks, actually. All on one song, diving headlong into every little detail that goes into getting a good mix.

One of the very first Production Club members, Matt from, sent me some before-and-after mixes. These are songs he had recorded and mixed before joining the Production Club, then after going through all the material, he went back and re-mixed them.

He was thrilled at how much better all of his mixes were sounding, and I was tickled to death just listening to the improvements.

So, since I’m launching a brand new Production Club this week, I thought it would be fun to share those mixes with you. (Thanks for sharing these, Matt!)

Audio Samples


Mixing: “Limit Thyself” [NEW VIDEO]

I tried posting this yesterday, but I ran into some technical roadblocks, so here ’tis.

I’ve got a new video for you today. Live from my home studio…

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If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the blog post explaining the mixing course in a bit more detail. The doors open on MONDAY (3/29)!!

Also, don’t forget about the live streaming concert tomorrow night (3/27) at 5pm Central Time. I honestly don’t know how good the audio quality will be (fingers firmly crossed), but I’ll also be recording it all into Pro Tools. [Hint: If you join the new mixing course, the live recording might be a bonus…just sayin’. :-)]


I’ll be answering questions about the upcoming mixing course after the concert on Saturday. So come listen to some music, then stick around afterward, and we’ll have a live Q&A.


Ask Joe #19 – Recording and Money

I’ve got another round of questions for your weekend.

Thanks to everyone for your submissions. Good questions this week!

Topics covered:

  • Mixing & Mastering – Peak vs RMS levels
  • Dealing with USB latency
  • Monitor placement
  • 808 bass drops/mixing
  • Recording & money

Enjoy Listening!

[Photo by Horia Varlan]