Last updated on October 12, 2018 by Rob Mayzes

In this video, you’ll learn why the static mix is so important. As well as how to volume balance and pan your track to achieve a great static mix.

Watch now if you want to nail the most important step of the mixing process.

 

In this video you’ll learn why the static mix is so important as well as how to volume balance and pan your tracks to achieve a great static mix.

So, keep watching if you want to know the most important step of the mixing process.

But first, download the free volume balancing cheat sheet.

There is a link in the bio or on screen now.

All right guys. How is it going?

Rob here from Musician on a Mission.

Now, the static mix is so important because it’s way set the foundation for everything else.

But instead of telling you why it’s so important let me just show you.

Take a listen to this track unmixed.

I’m warning this is going to sound horrific.

Okay, so keep that sound in mind because what we’re going to do now is mix this together and we’ll go back and compare later.

Now, there are two key elements to the static mix.

Volume balance and panning.

Let’s start with volume balancing.

So, my preferred approach is to just bring every single channel down right to the bottom of the fader and then bring things in, in order of importance.

So, generally that means I set the lead vocal to zero and I start balancing in everything else around it.

I call this balancing in height order because we’re starting with the element that we want to be the tallest or the loudest in the mix.

And when you bring everything else in again in order of importance we are just setting them at lower levels in that tallest element.

There is an approach that’s the exact opposite of this but we’re going to come back to that later.

In this track this genre indie folk, pop vibes the vocal is obviously the most important thing.

So, let’s start with that.

And what I am going to do now is put on my headphones and just balancing this in front of you.

So, in order of importance we’re probably going to go after the vocal for maybe the acoustic guitar or the snare.

So far the only plug-ins I have in this mix is some gain plug-ins for some gain staging, a bit of vocal riding, and automation so that it’s easier to actually balancing the mix and that’s it.

Let’s just have a look.

So, already we’ve got some of the harmony instruments there.

The acoustic guitars go in.

I think next a big part of this just from listening to our mix is the percussion.

There are lots of claps and it’s quite kind of cutesy in that regard.

So, let’s start bringing those in.

Now, when you’re balancing lots of individual elements whether that’s a whole drum kit or claps it’s okay to go into solo or just solo that group of instruments to get the balance right.

That already sounds quite natural to me.

If it was a drum kit with a snare and a kick at this point I wanted to bring in the drum kit then I’d probably solo the kit for a while to get the balance within the kit right.

And then balance that kit in the context of the track but there that already sounds good, so let’s move on.

What you might have also noticed here is that I’m looping the loudest section of the song.

And there is quite a short chorus.

So, I’m going to go back and I’m actually going to loop this section as well and we can always come back to the last chorus later.

Because we want to mix the last chorus first.

That’s the bit we want to sound biggest but sometimes it’s nice to just move around while you’re getting the balance.

Don’t be afraid to mute channels as well.

Right now, I’m really not liking the vibe of this kick ambience.

So, I’m just going to mute that and balance in the kick.

Before I start balancing these backend vocals I’m just going to send them over to a buss.

So, you can even start bussing things before you start balancing which is generally what I like to do especially with big projects like this.

So, we can have like a BV buss.

We can then have a lead vocal buss, etc.

So, I’m just going to go and set that now.

So now, if I want to solo a group of instruments I can just solo the group buss and later run earphone add EQ for example, to all the backend vocals which is the way I am going to mix this.

I am not going to EQ each one individually.

I’ll get a good balance go in, and then I’ll EQ the whole group.

So, that’s all set up now.

We can solo that backend vocal buss and start balancing these in.

And I’m probably going to start add in some panning here as well.

Now, that we’re getting into the backend vocals which there are a lot of I’m going to start panning some hard left, some hard right.

That’s my general approach with maybe one or two things in the whole mix panned about half way.

Now that they’re all at same level I’m just going to listen out to see if any of them are poking out.

And since they’re now panned hard left and hard right it’s easier to do that.

You can just go through and solo them, but to me it’s already sounding pretty balanced.

Now, let’s go to another backend vocal part.

Some of these parts seem like they might interact with the lead vocal.

So, I’m just going to un-solo the backend vocals now and continue balancing them.

So, the heys are a little quiet so let’s dial those in now.

And start panning some of them.

It’s sounding a little bit heavier one side, so let’s just solo these and balance them together and time this loop.

Let’s see how that sounds before we get sick of hearing that over and over again.

Let’s start bringing in other elements now before we spend too long focusing on just one part before everything is in.

We want to get to the point where we’d bring in everything in kind of at a good level, and then we can fine tune it.

I’m going to go back to a bit more of a climax to dial this in.

So, let’s go to that last chorus again.

It’s starting to get a bit messy now.

There’s a lot going on in this mix.

So, I’m going to start panning things a bit more to create more space and separation.

Now, let’s just check we’ve got everything in.

Looks like it, so there’s that one ambience channel that we need that we’ll come back to.

Now that everything is in start fine tuning this.

Put in more panning, so all these claps need panning as well.

So, you can see I’m just going hard left, hard right, and then I’ll put maybe one or two things halfway either side.

So, there’s this kind of guitar lately that I’m going to put halfway to the right in its own little space because it’s got really nice sound and the same with that slide guitar.

Okay, so we’re getting there.

So, I would normally spend a lot longer on this, especially with a project with a lot of channels like this one.

For the sake of demonstration I’m going to move on now to a few other things.

But just be aware that I’m probably going to spend that same amount of time again just fine tuning this.

Maybe even longer just making sure this is really dialed in, because this is where so much of the mix comes from.

One thing you could do to help with the static mix is start pulling in references.

So, I can actually compare this to tracks and listen to how loud is the vocal in comparison to the snare.

How loud are the backend vocals in comparison to the lead vocal, etc.

So, let’s just pull in some references now.

So, I’ve got a couple of references here now.

I’ve balanced the volume so that we’re not listening to the references louder or our mix louder.

And let’s just have a comparison now.

I want you to actually think about what the differences are in the balance.

What are potential ways to improve the balance that we’ve got with this track based on how loud the individual elements are on the references?

And focus on the vocal most of all and how that relates to the percussion, the backend vocals that kind of stuff.

So, there are a few things that I’m hearing.

First of all I think the kick can come up that plays a really important role.

Maybe the acoustic can come up as well that is just as loud as the lead vocal really core focus, and then besides that I think just there are a few general issues that need fine tuning.

The claps are still a little bit too loud and that would just come from the process of fine tuning this balance.

So, let’s dial in a few of those big issues now.

Let’s try to bring in this kick ambience track as well to see if that helps fill out that kick a bit.

So, you’ve seen me adjust these gain plug-ins a couple of times.

That’s because I initially cut some of that gain to make sure the channels weren’t too hot.

But now I’m struggling to get the volume up to where I need it.

So, I can try just add in a bit more gain there if the channel gets too hot again I have to turn up the buss or turn down everything else to compensate but there’s gain in there.

So, references really help.

Again spending longer fine tuning this.

The other thing you’ll need to do once you’ve got a good balance on the climax of the song is go back and add volume automation to the other parts.

Because maybe now in the verse a certain part is too loud.

Let’s have a listen.

So, the slide guitar there is a little bit too loud.

The acoustic can also come up.

It seems like whoever is playing the acoustic is playing a lot softer during the verse but we need that to really fill out the space there.

So, we can bring up the acoustic with a bit of automation.

Bring down the slide guitar which I believe is this one.

Let’s have a listen to see if that’s better.

Getting there.

So, you have to go through an add automation like this.

Now, I normally do that towards the end of the mix.

So, to break it down it starts with the static mix with panning, looping the loudest section, then what I’ll do is actually switch to mono once I’ve got a good static mix and add compression, EQ or my main mixing plug-ins to that loudest section.

And then I’ll start adding effects and that’s when I flick back into stereo, and then finally after all of that I’ll move back to the other sections and add volume automation like you just saw me doing there.

But I just wanted to make sure you are aware of that because you generally find when you get a great static mix in the main chorus it doesn’t necessarily translate to the rest of the track.

Now, I’ve just got a few questions that I want to address that I’ve had a few times about volume balancing and creating the static mix.

First of all, how do you choose the most important element?

Quite often it will be the vocals but in many cases it’s not as obvious.

In a lot of the dance music maybe the kick drum is more important than the vocal if it’s just a sample.

Maybe the guitar is more important if it’s kind of a lead guitar rock track.

Really you just need to sit down and figure out well what is the main hook of this song.

Is it the vocal?

Is it the fact that people want to have a dance to it, so the kick drum is almost like the hook it needs to be loud.

I’m going to pull up another mix now.

Have a listen and see what you think is the most important element.

So, again this hasn’t been balanced yet, so it’s going to sound pretty bad.

But let’s just see if we can figure out what the most important element is.

So, we’ve got that vocal sample that Got Your Love, which is important.

It’s a hook of some song probably play through your mind.

But then it seems to be getting into this chorus.

It’s very different vibe.

There’s no vocal, so the question is well how do you want this track to be perceived by most people?

Do you want to make the kick drum the most important element?

So, that we really get people dancing or maybe it’s actually the bass that’s more important in creating that groove.

Equally, in this track I personally think there’s a better hook in the synth part.

That was pretty hooky to me.

So, I’d probably start with that and then bring in the kick.

Get those two elements really working?

Next bring in the bass, and then that means we’ve got all the core elements balanced well and we can bring in everything else to fit around it.

Next question.

Is it better to do volume balancing on headphones or monitor speakers?

Hey man do whatever you want.

Headphones, monitors it really doesn’t matter.

What are your thoughts on working backwards and leaving the most important element as the last thing?

So, I have heard of this some people find that the thing they balance last i.e. the vocal actually ends up being the loudest.

I have a slightly different approach because this more relates to my mixing workflow where if the vocal is actually really important.

I’ll maybe mix it a little bit too.

Not just balance it but also dial in some EQ compression then kind of shape everything else around it.

Honestly, there’s no right answer just try both.

Try starting with the vocal and then shaping everything else around it which is my preferred approach or bring in the vocal last to kind of make it sit on top.

Give it a try.

And lastly, how does this style of balancing compare to using pink noise?

Personally, I’m really not a fan of the pink noise technique.

I think it completely defeats the point of balancing where we don’t want everything to be the same volume.

We want the vocal to be a bit louder.

And I understand that the pink noise trick means that you have a nice spread across frequencies.

So, generally you’ll turn up the bass to the right point compared to the vocal, etc.

But I think it’s way more subjective than that.

You can’t really use something objective like pink noise that’s quite scientific for something that’s actually very artistic and requires a lot of subjective input when you are balancing these different channels.

So, it might be a good way to just get a really rough balance going if you prefer to have everything up, and then start tweaking.

But I prefer to just bring things in just one at a time like I’ve shown you here.

And for anyone that doesn’t know what trick is it’s basically where you just have pink noise playing really loud like whoosh and then you balance everything in.

So, that you can actually here it.

It’s a weird technique.

Okay.

That’s it.

We are done here.

Static mix that’s how you ace it every time.

Now you need to actually go on and play this.

We’ve covered quite a lot here and it’s such an integral part of the mixing process.

If you want your mixes to sound good you need to get the initial static mix right.

So, I put together a cheat sheet that will walk you through this process.

You can use it next time you mix to make sure you ace it.

And if you’re new here don’t forget to subscribe and hit the notification bell.

So, that’s all from me.

I am Rob from Musician on a Mission.

And remember Create Regardless.

 

Audio professional, musician and founder of Musician on a Mission.

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