Previous: 10. Compress and equalize the individual tracks.

11. Action: Set levels and panning for mixing song tracks together.

Ingredients: Properly adjusted tracks, your model song, your map of the band.

Explanation: First we'll get set up. In order to get the faders to mean the same thing regarding each track, you have to adjust the gain knobs on your mixer channel inputs. Put all of the faders at the same level, and adjust the gain knobs on each track so that all of the parts are at the same volume level. You can do this visually, with the meters.

Referred to the map that you drew of the band on the stage. Set your panning accordingly. At this stage it may be helpful to listen through headphones, because they'll give you a truer sense of the stereo field.

Once you've panned the band, dropped all faders to zero. Raise the fader of the lead vocal to the neutral point (0). Then, bring in the main accompanying instrument (piano or guitar, usually). It should be loud enough to sound like it's in the same place as the singer, but should not impinge on the singer's clarity. These two tracks will be the center of your mix, and everything will be built around them.

After your vocal and accompanying instrument, go to the rhythm section. Start with the base and bass drum, the rest of the drums, and the rest of the rhythm instruments. After that, bring in the counterpoint instruments and any solo instruments you may have. Finally, bring in the backing vocals.

Then, run through a checklist of each track to make sure it can be heard. Before playing with levels, though, consider adjusting the panning or EQ to keep a track in the proper balance. The last thing you should check is the lead vocal.

Play your model song again now, and make any adjustments you need until you are happy.

Result: Your band has taken shape.

Next 12. Apply effects to the tracks.



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