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How do you mix?
1. LISTEN AND DECIDE
Before you do anything else, LISTEN to the song and the individual parts, being open to inspiration. What is the song about and what is the songwriter, arranger, and singer trying to express?
A good place to start is by deciding on the overall sound you want to go for. Wet, dry, beefy, edgy, soft, aggressive, light, heavy, driving, rolling, intimate, bold, (etc) are some of the words and directions you should be considering.
Once you have decided on a direction, now you need to start to think about what instruments will be most important in achieving that direction. You will also need to consider how you will change the sound of any of the parts in order to move the mix in the desired direction.
3. WORK ON INDIVIDUAL SOUNDS
Your next step is to start working on the individual sounds, not only in terms of changing the sounds themselves (by using processing such as EQ, Compression, etc) but also in terms of PLACEMENT in the overall mix and image. Remember that some sounds may be part of larger sounds (such as individual drum mics being part of the overall drum sound).
4. REFINE SOUNDS SO THEY WORK TOGETHER
Next, make sure the sounds are working together and not fighting as a result of too much buildup of a certain frequency or having too much in the same place in a mix (for example, an acoustic guitar, hi-hat, and piano all sounding bright and placed straight up the middle will not fit together easily, and even if they do so will not leave room for vocals. This is the time to address any overall effect you may have on the master fader, such as compression.
5. WORK ON DYNAMICS
If you have the song sounding and feeling in a specific way, now you may consider dynamics and automating volume changes (etc).