7 Steps to streamline your mix session workflow

7 steps to streamline your mix session workflow

If you start mixing without taking into account some basic mix session setups, you will be faced with delays later on in the process.
So, take some time to familiarize yourself with the following steps to speedup your workflow and creativity!

1. Order your channels: Find a system that works for you. For instance; i always have my drums on the left, then the bass, guitars, keys/synths and last the vocals.

2. Color code the instruments: In most DAW applications you will find an option to give each individual channel a specific color. When you consequently apply the same color to the different instruments in all your mixes, you will notice yourself navigating through the channels much faster. My drums are always brown, bass yellow, guitars blue, keys purple and vocals red. Don’t ask my why. I just associate these colors with the instruments.

3. Signal routing: The standard setting of your daw is probably that each channel is routed directly to the main or master fader (at least in Presonus Studio One that is). When working with multiple instrument channels you can consider feeding them to separate buses. The buses are then routed to the main fader. All my drum channels go to a Drum Bus, the guitars to a Guitar Bus, etc. I find working this way very useful for adding effects to a group of channels, or making group level adjustments. Working this way is also very CPU friendly!

4. Gain staging: Why gain staging? Simply put; because we need headroom to work with in the mix. So no signal is clipping and causing digital distortion. I’d like to start with all my faders in unity (0 db) and setting each channels to a peak level of approximately -12 db. That way you will have enough headroom to apply plugins and summing on the mix bus.

5. High Pass Filtering: The most challenging EQ region for most people (myself included) are the lows and low mids. These range from Sub 20-60 Hz to Bass 60-250 Hz and Low Midrange 250-500 Hz (check out the Frequency Trainer). A High Pass filter (HP) is sometimes called a Low Cut, but they are the same thing. What a HP does is remove low frequency clutter. When applied properly, you will find yourself more able to making judgments in these regions. The mix will clear up drastically without loosing too much low end and sounding thin. Please note to leave the kick drum and bass guitar alone when you start off.  

6. Setting the levels: Make a one minute rough mix by only moving the faders.

7. Auditing the song: With fresh ears you now can listen to the song (if you mix for a client) and take notes of what needs to be done and what to achieve. 

Please check the website for more future detailed blog posts about signal routing, gain staging and HP filtering

TIP: In Presonus Studio One it is possible making templates. That way, when creating a new song, the above steps (1-3) are applied automatically.