from our HOFA studio experts
»While mixing concentrate on the most important elements!
Each song typically consists of 3 to 5 signals which are of fundamental musical importance.
If these elements are edited and placed well in the mix, the rest will take care of itself.«
»Boost the sides in the chorus by 1 dB with an M/S EQ at 2 kHz, 5 kHz and 8 kHz. This provides additional tension and directs the attention to the entire stereo field. It also creates the impression of an extra wide chorus. Use this trick only subtly to avoid harsh highs.«
»Divide complex dynamic processing tasks into several stages!
If you need more gain reduction, it might be helpful to use multiple compressors or limiters in a row that work with different control times and share their work.«
»Try sending your delay into a reverb!
You will get a wet delay signal that will fit better in your mix!«
»The human ear gets used to sound patterns very quickly. As a result, you may invest hours in a mix and end up finding that the frequency response is unbalanced. Therefore, work with references to help your hearing.«
What are basstraps good for?
»Droning, booming, bass holes… only absorbers with a lot of porous absorber material and a corresponding thickness can help. These so-called basstraps are usually thicker than 40 cm and are particularly effective because they are positioned in the corners.«
»When you are finished working on a mix, you are usually so tired or deep in the process that you can’t judge objectively. Let’s face it: a mix is never really finished, especially if you are a perfectionist. But you can definitely do much better if you continue working on your mix the next day with fresh ears.«
»Create an own reverb channel for each instrument group and route it to the related group! That way, each instrument gets its own reverb and you don’t have to make any compromises. Plus, you can edit the room and direct signal together and place them more easily in the mix.«
»In order for a signal to be more effective in the mix, boosting the treble with an EQ is a good approach. It can also be a good idea to use a slight saturation, which generates new harmonics. Each saturation is also a form of compression that dynamically stabilizes your signal so that it can cut through the mix.«
»Remove problems such as subsonic sound, noise or resonance right at the beginning of the signal chain so that all subsequent devices react to the wanted signal and not to the interference. Especially room and dynamic processing can therefore be adjusted much easier.«
»Only invest in new plugins and equipment when you reach the limits of your possibilities.
In most cases it is the decisions of the mixing engineer that are responsible for the quality of a mix.«
What are diffusors good for?
»A diffuser is used to evenly diffuse incoming sound. The sound is perceived by most listeners as more genuine and lively. Diffusors also improve the quality of the reverb.«
»When mixing, the greatest danger is that you will make edits that result in increased volume. This way you will never be able to judge objectively whether your processing is really useful. Therefore, adjust the volume after each step and then compare by switching
the plugin on and off.«
»Take regular breaks when mixing! The fact that our hearing gets tired relatively quickly makes it hard for us to make good mixing decisions after a while. That’s why you should take a break at least every hour and give your ears a little rest.«
»If you are unsure how far you should sit from your speakers, calculate 0.87 x (distance between the speakers). This is now the distance between the axis of the speakers and the back of your head.«
»If you are unsure about a processing, you shouldn’t take a risk. In this case, it is better to continue without the adjustment or reduce the dry/wet ratio. The more subtle the adjustment, the less risk.«
»The basic prerequisite for a good mix is an objective evaluation. This is only possible if you use balanced studio monitors in an acoustically optimized room.«
»If your bass drum doesn’t cut through the mix, you should make it twice as loud!
No, stop – better try to slightly increase the first overtone of the kick with an EQ. This way, the bass drum gets a better punch and can be heard on smaller systems as well.«
»To prevent you from attacking important transients during compression, you can select the maximum ratio and the shortest attack time and set the input to create an extremely high gain reduction. Now increase the attack time until you can distinctly hear the transient and adjust the ratio and gain reduction to get a perfect compression.«
»Keep basses and other low-end sounds in mono. The reason for this is that you lose the ability to locate sounds below 200 Hz and therefore you do not need to use additional stereo space.
You get the impression of a wider bass track if you keep everything mono below 200 Hz and move something to the sides above it.«
»Experiment with panning the Hi-hats! Move them to the right or left side of your stereo spectrum at different positions in your drum pattern to give the listener more variety in the track.«
Problems in the bass range?
»Here are a few ways to solve the problem:
– Set listening position to approx. 38% of the room length
– Increase or decrease the distance between the speakers and the rear wall (10 – 80 cm)«
»If you want your vocals to sound breathy and airy, but you don’t want a hissing sound,
try boosting the treble a bit with a high-shelf EQ at 10 kHz. A very good plugin for this sound is the HOFA IQ-EQ. Be careful, however, because vocals can sound harsh very quickly.»
»Check your mix with helpful tools like an analyzer, frequency correlation and loudness meters. These tools do not replace an experienced ear, but they can give you clues about technical problems.«
What are absorbers good for?
»The main task of an absorber in music studios is to attenuate disturbing reflections in order to guarantee an unaffected listening position. Stereo imaging is improved, comb filter effects are minimized and speech intelligibility is increased.«
»If you want your vocals to be placed right in front of the mix, you need to work with significant compression. In order to relieve the compressor, you should first level it with a automation of the clip gain. Note that automating the volume fader does not give you the desired effect, as it is located behind the compressor in the signal flow.«
»Use panorama positions to separate signals in the mix. This not only gives your mix a nice stereo width, but also more space for individual elements.«
Open window area
»Each material reflects or absorbs a certain proportion of the incoming sound.
The absorption coefficient α describes at which frequencies the material withdraws its energy from the sound.«
»With electronic music it is usually important that the bass is put in mono to ensure a clean mix. However, this usually results in the bass sounding less impressive. Therefore, try to make the bass a little wider in the with stereo effects, starting at around 120 Hz.«
Mirror method 1/2
»Sound waves are subject to the physical laws of waves, which is why the law “angle of incidence = angle of reflection” applies to a reflection. By this principle, disturbing first reflection points can be determined e.g. with the mirror method.«
Mirror method 2/2
»With the mirror method, you sit at the listening position and a second person moves a mirror along the wall. If you can now see the speakers in the mirror, you have found the point where absorbers should be placed.«
»In many home studios, the speakers are located somewhere on the table.
However, it is important to note that the acoustic axis (point between the tweeter and the midrange driver) of the speaker is at ear level (approx. 120 cm).«
»Always maintain a moderate sound level! Listening too loudly does not only tire your hearing, but can also lead to permanent hearing damage. In addition, too low or too high sound levels have a negative effect on the balance of the perceived frequencies.«
Bass cancelation despite room correction software
»Room correction software only allows frequency response correction of the loudspeaker for a specific listening point, but never positive acoustic room correction for all locations. If there is a bass cancellation at the listening position due to an antiphase overlay, increasing the bass component does not help since the cause of the cancellation remains unchanged.«
Misconception: The more, the better.
»A common misconception is that gluing large surfaces with a material such as nap foam and egg cartons gives the desired results. This results in an uneven absorption, though:
the highs are dry, the low end remains untreated.«
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