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Phase Three in creating a home recording studio: Equipment for mixing down your song tracks

Mixers, monitors, digital signal processors, effects, audio editing software

Music Studio Equipment for Mixing Tracks

At this point you have everything you need to record in your home recording studio. Now you'll gain the means to combine all the tracks onto two for a stereo mix. You will only need a few more items for this to be done effectively. Here we go.

1. Get your studio monitors

Home recording studio monitor speakersIngredients: The equipment with which you will listen to the music.>

Steps: We talked about this before, so now I'll add details: In cheap monitoring situations, you don't get what you hear. Why not just use stereo speakers? they lie They are specifically built to enhance certain frequencies and cut others, so that they sound good. That's as it should be, because the average music listener wants to buy speakers that make their music sound good. Makes sense.

But when you are mixing, you need monitor speakers which are built for accuracy. I've mixed on cheaper speakers and felt that what I got was great, until I actually played back the CD on my home player. It was so way off! Arghh. Get monitors that have a wide and flat frequency response. That means that they will let you hear exactly what has been recorded. For the home studio, which usually won't have fancy soundproofing done, look for " near field" monitors, which you will place closer to your mixing console. They are meant to avoid room reverberation issues.

Some like to use headphones for mixing. Not recommended, because headphones also tend to flatter the sound.  

Monitor speakers come in a number of varieties as well.

  1. Powered monitors = speakers with their own built in amplification. No need to use a seperate amplifier. Also known as active monitors.
  2. Passive monitors = unpowered, will require an amplifier to work.
  3. Near field monitors = are, as the name implies, meant to be used in close quarters in the recording studio.

Monitors that have their own built in power supply, called  " powered monitors" , are most convenient. Otherwise, you'll need an amplifier to send the signal to the monitors.

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Digital Signal Processor2. Get your digital signal processors .

Ingredients: The means of applying reverb, chorus, compression and all those yummy things that make the music full and satisfying.

Steps: To create the studio spacial aura around your tracks, to control volume irregularities, and to mould the sounds, you will need three different types of effects. The first are those effects that create the impression of space.

Get a processor or software plug-in for and chorus These are the most useful effects. They create echoes to give the feeling of the singer or instrumentalist in a room or hall. Chorus basically thickens the sound, and goes great on backing vocals.

The second type is compression, which smooths out the volume so that you don't have sudden loud parts followed by inaudible soft sounds. The third is called equalization, and it allows you to make a sound more treble or bass, by boosting or cutting different frequencies. There are also more specialized types of effects out their, such as harmonizers and a exciters Check the product links for more possibilities.

Most digital multitracks and sequencing programs have all these functions built in. The quality may vary, but the basics are already there. If you seek professional quality effects, then by all means go in search of digital signal processors, compressors and equalizers (eq).

Digital Signal Processors - Multi Effects and More

TC Electric Multi-Effects processorTC Electronic M350 Reverb and Effects Processor

15 brand-new TC-quality reverbs with 15 multi-purpose effects including delay, modulation and compression. Studio engineers and recording musicians will benefit from the included VST compatible software editor, which allows for seamless control and editing integration with DAW systems. Buy now for $199 or less.

Lexicon effects processorQuality: Lexicon MX300 Stereo Reverb Effects Processor with USB

All parameters of every reverb, delay and dynamic effect in this powerhouse processor are available inside any PC VST® or Macintosh® AU compatible DAW program. Just link your computer to the MX300 with a USB cable and control automation and recall parameters exactly as you would with any software plug-in. Buy now for $250 or less.

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Recording Studio Audio Mixers3. Get your mixer

Ingredients: A hardware piece to combine the multiple tracks and refine them.

Steps: If you've got tracks outside your computer, you will need to combine them to stereo for your final mix. Choose a mixer with enough channels for the music you plan to record. If you've got an eight piece band plus singers, an 8 channel mixer won't be enough. A mixer with onboard digital effects, reverbs, compression and equalization can take the place of a number of other signal processors.

Some mixers are digital, meaning that they translate analog audio into digital. They have functions such as scene memory, so you can leave a mix and come back to it three projects later and recall the settings. More advanced ones have full automation, allowing you to actually record all those fader movements for futire remixing.

Analog mixers don't have all those frills, but cost less. Many do have onboard effects, only they lack a lot of the automation features.

Audio Mixer for your music studio

Audio mixer from AlesisBudget: Alesis MultiMix 8USB Professional All-In-One Mixer and Audio Interface

Available in 8–channel and 16–channel configurations, these compact tabletop mixers feature USB connectivity, low–noise analog electronics, 100 studio–grade 28–bit digital effects, and rock–solid construction. now for $149 or less.

Mackie Mixer for AudioQuality: Mackie ProFX12 12-Channel Non-Powered Effects Mixer with USB

The Mackie ProFX12 12-channel mixing console with integrated effects is the complete and simple solution for small to mid-size performance venues. 6 Mackie low-noise, high-headroom mic preamps ensure a pristine signal while LED metering and 60mm faders on each channel keep levels in check. Sweeten the mix using the mixer's 3-band active EQ and integrated RMFX 32-bit processor, which offers an arsenal of gig-ready effects. Buy now for $279 or less.

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4. Get your mixdown tracks recorder.

Ingredients:   Stereo tracks for you to record the mix.

Steps: Here again you may already have what you need. Ideally, you want something that can record in synchronization with the playback, so you can do punches in and out during your mixing. That's why I recommend setting aside two tracks on your multitracker, using them as the mixers destination tracks. If you do that, you've already got what you need.

Alternatively, you can mix down to the multitrack sequencer program in your computer. That should also be synced and ready to go.

If not, you can get an audio recording program that can record stereo audio. Again, see if there's a way to sync it to the master, so you can punch in if you need to during the mix.

Mastering Equipment - Mixdown Recorders

Marantz PMD660 Hand-Held Portable Stereo Digital RecorderTop rated hardware stereo recorder: Marantz PMD660 Hand-Held CompactFlash Recorder.

If audio quality is your key requirement, you get over an hour of pristine, uncompressed, 16-bit WAV files. Editing can be achieved right in the field using either of 2 editing modes, or use your favorite audio editing application by transferring files to your PC via a USB port. XLR inputs, phantom power, built-in mics and more—it's all there in the Marantz PMD660 Hand-Held Recorder. Comes with 64MB card.

Now that you've got what you need, here's how it could work.

  1. Connect your sound sources (multitrack, computer tracks, sound module) to the input of your recording device.
  2. Connect your multitrack to any external signal processors you wish to use.
  3. Enable the tracks you are going to record.
  4. Enable synchronization for all the devices and programs that have to play and for the recording tracks.
  5. Begin setting levels, panning, effects settings for each track.
  6. Start recording your mix.

And on to the final stage of creating a recording studio!

Phase Four in building a home recording studio: Equipment for mastering and CD burning

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