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swizz 2006-06-02 03:54

Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
Ok, I have been tampering with Reason for about a year now, and I would say that I'm not a newbie by any stretch, nor am I a professional by any stretch, I'm suspended in the middle somewhere.

I thought after all this trial and error (pretty much a whole year and thousands of CD's with one or two of my songs burned on them) I thought I had figured out how to mix my songs and have it sounding professional.

Basically, what I have been doing for the last month, is composing and arranging my beat.. first of all..

and then while all instruments in the mixer are still at 100 and 0 Pan, I crank the master Mixer volume up to 127.

I then go through each of my instruments solo, and adjust their master levels up or down until they are a few decibals below the clipping point. (I watch the red 'Audio Out Clip' light in the bottom left corner as my guide, and adjust the levels until the light goes off indicating the instrument is not clipping at any point.)

After adjusting all the instruments individually I bring the master volume back down to 100. The beat sounds cleaner and more quiet, and nothing is clipping.

Then I use my ears and my studio monitors to evenly distribute the sound using slight volume adjustments and panning in the main mixer.

I hook up compression to my Kick and my Snare to boost their power a little but make sure they do not clip, and I find that a Stereo Imager set to 'Solo Lo Band' filter with the Lo Band knob all the way to the left and the X-Over frequency set to 210 will help when applied to you Kick and your Bass. it will help keep it centered in the mix and add a little punch.

Finally I hook up the MClass Equalizer in between the Audio Interface and the Mixer. I enable Low Cut, turn the low frequency Q all the way up usually keep the Fequency just under 0 dB. Then I progressively cut the Frequency response as I see fit heading to the right of the graph. The two middle frequency points will have fairly low Q, and the Hi Freq. will have a moderate amount of Q. My graph will look like a squiggly line slanting down to the right slightly dropping the signal about 6 dB over all.

At this point the beat sounds pretty quiet and nothing is clipping, so I add a Maximizer underneath my Equalizer with fast attack and release, turn off the limiter and 4 ms look ahead.. (what is that anyway)..? and while it is set to 'Peak', I boost the input gain until the signal goes into the red. Then I bring it back down a good few dB until there is no red, and nothing is clipping, keeping it pretty close to 0 dB without going over.

I'm using an Audio Interface set to a 44800 Sample Rate, and I export the beat to file at 44800Khz and 24 bits. Put the beat into another prog so I can re-save it as mp3, and save it as an .mp3 at 44800Khz and 320Kbps.

My waveforms look pretty healthy when I export them, but STILL when I compare my work to other producers (I make Hip Hop and Hip Hop type instrumentals, mostly) theirs always sound so much more crisper, so much more clear and louder. The instruments sound much more 'seperated'.

When I play them in my car it sounds like my instruments are low quality, the overall quality of the beat sounds a bit 'muffled', even though I can get the bass and the kick to sound very nice.

I seem to have run out of ideas for mixing my beats, and at this point I can't figure out how to get them sounding louder and clearer because it seems like I've got them as loud and clear as they are going to be. Other producers work just sounds so much more 'full' and 'clean'. I can't figure out how to move forward from here. How can I make it more clear? I thought about EQing individual instruments but wasn't sure if it is considered a good idea, and wouldn't know how to EQ instruments anyway. EQ to me is a foreign city which I have been lost in for some time, and being lost in it for some time I have come to know a few landmarks here and there, a few nice little cafe's, but I still can't speak the language or figure out exactly what the hell is going on here.

Anyway, anything that would help me out here would be appreciated, thanks for your time.

omnyc 2006-06-02 05:08

Re: Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
i would like to help you here but i have the same problem... when i listen on head phones at my computer it sounds good. when i listen as a mp3 on my ipod it doesnt sound as well as i would like. in a car it seems all i hear is the bass that is's an art...i guess years of training or having a great ear is needed or both :)


2006-06-02 05:59

Re: Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
the reason why other producers instrumentals sound fuller and much more crisp is because there .WAV beat files are mastered when the beat is done so it may bring out all the sweet spots and make it louder

moorejollie 2006-06-02 06:50

Re: Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
: I use at least three seperate testing points during mixdown and master. First, I play it back on my laptop speaker (Harmon Kardon), then I cross-check that against my headphones(ATH's), then I give it a go on "The Bitch"(0ur clapped-out Toshiba televsion with built-in stereo speakers). If I play around enough with the mix and I can get my stuff to sound good on all 3, for me this is "close enough for government work" as we used to say in the military.
I dunno. I'm no expert and this mixing thing takes years to learn. Hope this helps.
Refusion Project at TagWorld

slovadon 2006-06-02 19:29

Re: Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
I think that EQ will help you out a ton. Here's a deffinition to get started: Masking: The Phenomenon by which louder sounds prevent the ear from hearing softer sounds in a given frequency range.
So that's the problem, louder sounds are preventing the ear from hearing softer sounds (covering them up) and making it all sound muddy. Well, you've got the balance of over all volume, but the second part of that deffinition is "in a given frequency range." Which means you need to not only mix with the entire track, but also mix the individual frequencies within the track. This is where an EQ comes into play.
You're going to want to do addition by subtraction. There are times when you want to excentuate a frequency range for an instrument, but it's most important to first prevent masking from occuring. Hope you're still with me. Sorry, but I'm not a great writer.
Here's an example: You've got a boomy 808-style kick and a really deep bass. Both of these instruments will occupy from 60-80 Hz (and possibly lower.) If this is the case then one will mask the other, and it'll just be muddy. So, try cutting the frequency where the kick is (you'll have to use your ears for that by sweeping on the eq) by 4dB or so. It should open up a hole for the kick to come threw, and give both of the instruments room to live together. In Reason you could also use pitch shift the kick so it is a higher then the bass. It's not using an EQ, but it is still using the same principal.
This isn't really much of a guide to EQ, but it might get your brain working on it a little bit. Go to Google and you should be able to turn up quite a bit of stuff on using EQ. Here's a good reference to instruments and frequency: Good luck, hope this helps out a little.

lofi1990 2006-06-02 20:50

Re: Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
slovadon is on the right track. but basically, you need to do research. the internet if FULL of it. find everything u can about eq, frequency spectrum, etc., and learn it. find out what instruments sit good in what frequency, learn about the theory behind it. that part is actually really easy once u get ur head around it. and yes, YOU MUST PUT AN EQ ON EVERY SINGLE INSTRUMENT. every professional console has a really good eq on each channel. mimmick that.

the hard part is comming up with good music ;)

swizz 2006-06-02 23:05

Re: Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
Thanks. That helps a lot.

So Reason CAN in fact produce powerful, clean sounding music on its own?

It's just a matter of me learning how to do it properly?

swizz 2006-06-02 23:09

Does anybody use a good touch up program to edit your waveforms and do a final mix? I'm still using Cool Edit Pro 2.0, which can't even save at 96000Khz..
maybe that's part of my problem...

So how do you guys get your exported .wav's to their final state.. .mp3 or whatever you do..

and are there any good programs you can recommend for touch-up and post production?

djalliance0 2006-06-03 02:02

Re: Mixing and Mastering processes used in Reason
Co-produce with some one mate and let them do the mixingdown so you can learn how it is done. Best thing to do, that way you know what to do yourslf.

danny_f 2006-06-07 11:32

what about headroom?
I assume you've played with your panning?


Maybe you need to EQ your individual instruments..that is drop out segments of sounds that aren't being used, to increase overall headroom. ( for example, drop out the top half of the kick drum eq say 1000 hz and above, because obviously it doesn't need to use this part of the sound in your mix ).

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