Balancing synth weights in a mix


#1

heh
a beginners question really but how do you balance out the elements in your mix when some elements are big and weighty and others are not.
An example would be me trying to use my OB6 part with a drum and bass loop. The OB6 is soo dominate but I want the drum loop to feature equally as much.


#2

EQ and sidechain compression are a good place to start. Find the key frequencies of the OB-6 and remove any unwanted highs or lows that may be muddying your mix. If you’re using a DAW, you could try sidechaining the OB track with your kick to add some weight to the drums.


#3

Mixing is a whole other world…It’s a balancing act. Where do you want the bass to sit vs the kick? The guitars vs the synths? How about the hat vs the kick and snare? Besides the vocals, what else should be the loudest thing in the mix? How much should things be panned, and to where, and why?

But remember: Mixing starts with arranging. If your OB6 part is huge, gigantic, maybe 6-8 note chords then it’s taking up a lot of the frequency spectrum. If you want to add bass and drums on top of it, it might be a bit difficult. If it was recorded in stereo, it might be too wide. General rule of thumb is to high pass any non-bass parts at 80Hz, but following rules blindly every time can be a bit backwards.

Here’s an idea I’ve been employing in my arrangements lately: Looking at the piano and not letting any chord/melodic instruments over lap. So for instance if the chord is a C chord and the vocalist is singing an E 3 over it, then I want to avoid that note in my arrangement and leave room for him/her. You can do this across the whole spectrum: “Oh, I don’t have much going on up in the C5-C6 range, maybe I can add a nice string melody.”

But don’t forget: Before you start getting into the world of EQ and compression and all sorts of stuff, sometimes things just need to literally be louder/quieter than other things. Generally speaking–at least for rock/pop music–the hi-hats are quieter than the bass and the snare. Listen to a lot of great-sounding records (Steely Dan - Aja, Supertramp - Crime of the Century) and you’ll generally hear hats panned a little left or right, and significantly quieter than the rest of the kit. More generally speaking: Vocals are the loudest, then kick and snare are next, then the rest sort of underneath that in varying degrees.

So if your OB6 is too dominant, bare in mind it could just literally be too loud and you need to quiet it down. Maybe even just a little–.5-1 dB. Play around.


#4

Many ways to skin a cat. A good starting point would be -Cut a -6db bell curve out of the synth sound at 500 hz. Drop the level to zero then bring that synth channel back in until it balances with your drums.

You can eq and compress and side chain and multiband process until your ears bleed, or you can save your sanity and just try simple mixing.


#5

If you are new to mixing, I would recommend to watch or read some tutorials. There is so much to consider about setting the right levels, EQ-ing, compressing, arrangement etc. that it would take a very long post to cover at least the basics.

Answering your question … OB-6 versus bass and kick …

  • isn’t there a highpass filter on the synt? It’s in the SEM filter, knob to the 5 o’clock position. Just kill the basses of the synth sound slowly until the mix becomes better.
  • you could also not play bass notes on the synth, if a sequence or chord becomes too thick and overlapps with other bass sounds.

My suggestion would be, be patient, take some time to get your head around the basics and grow up from there. It’s no witch-craft, it’s to know-how-to and get some experience. You might want to check out those links … and there are much more …

https://www.izotope.com/en/blog/mixing/10-beginner-mistakes-to-avoid-when-mixing-music.html
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/mix-mistakes

I have learned much by reading this book:
Mixing Secrets by Mike Senior

At the end it’s much about:

  • balancing voices (sounds), which are used at the same time
  • understanding the frequency range of the voices in use,
  • creating space for the voices to let them breath,
  • preventing overlapping voices, which might cause a dull sound,
  • having adequate environment to review the mix (room treatment, speakers, headphones…)
  • listening to the mix, training and trusting your ears … but also
  • taking a break now and then to rest your ears,
  • and many more … :wink:

Speaking about synths I would like to point out that a sound, which might be great in a solo-part, can easily become a liability in a mix. This is particularly true for many bold synths like Moogs and also Oberheims. They have to be tamed sometimes. In this case I wouldn’t use the mixing desk, but tame the sound of the synth … it’s a synth after all and we have it in our hands … or better “knobs and sliders” :wink:

Ooops … has become very long - this post … :wink:


#6

Remake the OB-6 patch from scratch while the whole arrangement is running. If you made the OB patch on its own, and then tried to fit it in a song, it can be hard to get it to sound right.

I experience the same problem all the time. I make a big fat pad. Then come up with a decent melody and chords. Then nothing else fits. But when i start programming the synth with the other elements, it works better.


#7

If you mix ITB, I would recommend checking out FabFilter Pro Q3 or Izotope Neutron 2. Both of these allow you to see clashing frequencies between tracks/instruments & to be able to dynamically adjust them. The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski is a great, easy to read, learning reference.