MIXING: How To Get Started Mixing (FL Studio)
Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by GratuiTousIn Tutorials | 10 Comments »
Mixing in FL Studio for Beginners,
Always wanted to get started mixing in FL Studio but don’t know what’s all involved?
In this video, I’ve broken down how to get set up fast while mixing. A big tip is being able to assign all your instruments to the mixer with just a few clicks, giving you instant access to adjusting the sliders and knobs for mixing. You should definitely check out creating a template if you haven’t done so yet!
There are things that even intermediate to advanced people can learn in here as well, but really just wanted to break down the simpleness of actually how to get started mixing in FL Studio.
What is Mixing?
Well, let’s first talk about VSTs (digital instruments), to live recordings (real instruments).
A lot of these VSTs are already high quality in sound, so therefore, not tons of mixing is involved. It’s really more tweaking of EQ with VSTs to help the instrument stand out more. However, with live recordings, EQ and compression have major roles to play, when compared to VSTs.
This is because with live recordings, there are human-like characteristics to the audio, such as strumming a guitar. If the person strumming is an average player, the volume might go loud, then quiet, and maybe pulling away from the microphone at times, or moving around. Well, having some knowledge with compression will get your guitar recording sounding more consistent in the mix, volume wise, because compression will lower the volume of the loud parts, keeping it more consistent with the quiet parts.
So, comparing the digital world, to the live recording world, mixing is a bit of a different ball game, however, the rules and principals are very similar, if not the same ;).
Let’s get into how to get starting mixing in FL Studio.
Starting out Mixing in FL Studio,
Mixing is a whole new world. When starting out, you can feel consumed by all the features, effects, and terminology such as EQ, , delays, chorus, stereo separation.. you get the point, as you can probably relate!
New words, new sayings, and new ways of doing things! — Similar to a new language, if you’d like to take it that far!
This can easily become very frustrating while mixing, and very often, leaving your mixes sounding “worse” than the original beat! This is why I suggest, while starting out, save the original as unmixed, then work on a copy of the file as a Beat Name (MIXED), or something similar.
Saving the Original File — Mix on the Copy,
I’ve wrecked a lot of beats while trying to mix. I’ve also spent hours in areas where, in the end of the mix, it made no difference at all. Mixing is about the subtle, or really little changes, that impact the beat in a very great way. Knowing where, and how to make these changes, is where the experience comes in.
But while getting started out, saving the original file, and mixing on a copied/cloned version, us usually the wisest route to take.
What’s the Goal Behind Mixing?
The goal is to make the beat sound great ;). No, really though. So you’ve made a beat, and you’re listening to it. What do you want changed to the beat? Do you want the kicks hitting harder, the vocals standing out more? What about just a nice, clear mix, where you can hear everything going on inside the track, that you’ve worked so hard on!
Here’s some tips on achieving a decent sounding mix:
- Adjust your levels first before any EQ or compression.
- Is something not standing out? Try some EQ with CUTTING, not boosting, to make room for other instruments.
- Is the instrument only audible at certain times of the mix? Maybe try some compression to keep the audio more consistent throughout the mix!
- Does the mix sound cluttered, and nothing is standing out? Looks like you need to try some panning! — Move some instruments to the left speaker, and some to the right. A good rule of thumb is to keep the kick and bassline center, however, for cool effects, feel free to bounce them around the speakers!
- Listen to the mix from beginning to end, does it sound complete? This is what I call the Final Listen.
Mixing doesn’t come easy; it really does come from hands-on practice. If you aren’t practicing, you can guarantee you’re not going to get better!
Instead of making a beat, take time out to learn mixing. The more things you can know as a beatmaker/producer, the more valuable you will be, plus, save money in the long run if you decide to be an artist and beat maker, being able to mix and master your own tracks!
By that I mean, if you know how to make a beat, mix, and master.. well, that’s three jobs you have! In the music industry, these are three individual jobs that take place, usually by three separate people! So the more you can learn and conquer, the more ahead of the game you are, the more you understand, the more creative you can be with your sounds and mixing, and the more money you can save in the end!
Mixing Vocals — It’s All in the Recording,
Have you ever attempted mixing vocals? This starts to make your beat now a song. While mixing a beat, you can get away with a lot of incorrect moves. However, when vocals come into play, you have to learn how to make space for the vocal, keeping them front in center and most important, while keeping the beat lively and catchy!
From my experience, it’s really hard to turn a bad recording, into a good vocal. A good vocal recording, by itself, will sit great in a mix. A bit of EQ, De-essing, and compression will just enhance that awesome recording.
I’d highly recommend checking out my How to Make a Song. I’ve gone over the whole mixing and mastering process, from beginning to end, with vocals included!
Tricks of the Mixing Trade,
Like in any job, there’s always some tricks learned from experience, to get the job done easier.
You should also check out my video regarding Stereo Separation in Your Beats. This touches on making space for other sounds by using a low-pass filter on an EQ, which takes out the high end of a sound, allowing for more space in your mix for other instruments.
Low and High Pass Filters,
Low and High Pass Filters are very unique tools within audio mixing. When starting out, you have no idea what these are, but they are very important for carving out space in your mix.
High Pass = Cuts the lows out, but keeps the highs. — Many times, there is unnecessary bass in a lot of sounds and instruments! By cutting out some low-end on the sound, it leave lots of room for your kicks and bass to rumble harder! — The rule of thumb is to go until you hear the sound becoming thin, then gently back off until it sounds normal. (Also, listen to this in the mix, as it sounding thin can make the mix sound better at times as well!).
Low Pass = Cuts the highs out, but keeps the lows. — You can usually get away with quite a fair bit with your low-pass filter. I usually find it starts sounding worse to my ears, but the more I go, the more space it makes for my mix. It’s just something that you as the mixer have to get used to, creating just enough space for all the instruments to blend nice, and not sound mixed, or processed.
Mix Your Track IN THE MIX — Not Solo’d,
Just a quick tip — Sometimes doing the cut, or adjustments on your EQ, while your beat is playing is a good technique as well! If you EQ the sound individually, then play it in the full song, it can really change the impact of the sound, and the overall mix. Whereas, if you mix the individual sound as the full song is playing, you can make more accurate adjustments. (However, it’s always good to check in between individual and the full song to see what you are working with).
Conclusions to How to Mix in FL Studio,
Mixing can be very overwhelming, especially if it’s just as a hobby.
You can expect years of trial and error to actually get moving anywhere. But, once you get your time, and experience in, you may be able to pick up jobs as a mixer for some extra side money.
Mixing in a whole ‘nother world than actually creating the beat, so I hope as you get started mixing in FL Studio, that this video, and blog post, help you on your way ;).
Check out more tutorials by Beatstruggles!