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In this article, I would briefly talk about mixing and give you some quick and practical advices that could improve your technique. Mixing is mainly about volumes and panning. Yes, it includes a bunch of other things like compression (which is dynamic/volume control), eq (which is about managing the volumes of frequencies), effects and so on. So at a basic level when we start mixing, we need to find a good relationship between all the instruments.

How to start mixing
(Photo by James Owen)

Mix at low volume

Mix at low volume to find the right balance between the instruments. Remember: if the balance sounds good at low volume, it will sound good at a higher volume too (Just try! The opposite is not always true).

Gain staging

Start with the kick at -14dB FS. This will ensure good headroom. Start to build up the mix around the kick. Bring in first the main elements and then the other instruments.

[See also the article: GAIN STAGING: 4 TOP TIPS]

First approach

Start with all the instruments panned centre and adjust the volumes. Then pan what you feel is necessary and re-adjust the volumes.

free mastering sample


When panning instruments try to capture the interest of the listeners. For instance: you might have a tambourine panned on the L and when the tambourine stops and the woodblock come in it can be panned on the R. Same with other instruments. This way of panning capture the interest of the listeners every time an instrument comes in and make the mix and the song more exciting.

Subtle automations

Another way to create interest in the listener is to automate the pan making an instrument moving around.


Experiment with the LCR panning technique. I love it. Without any compromise pan, the main elements of the mix in the centre or all the way to the left or all the way to the right. Your mix will appear much wider and fatter.

ProTools mixing session
ProTools mixing session

After volumes and panning your mix should sound simple but fairly good. If it doesn't sound good, it means that something went wrong with the editing, recording, playing, or arrangement. You might be able to improve some aspect of the mix with some extra editing, sound replacement, EQ, and compression, depending on how it sounds.

Mixing & Mastering Masterclass