How I Found the Secret to Be Successful in Mixing Music

by | Jun 2, 2017 | Mixing, Music Production

Most successful people in any career, whether it be in business or the music industry, attest that they have found the secret to their achievement from a mentor – who have influenced their lives, thought processes and principles by leaps and bounds.

mixing music

True enough, I found mine; surprisingly, on YouTube and the internet.

They’re Graham Cochrane and Joe Gilder – two exceptionally talented musicians who inspire thousands to make great music at home.

Moreover, their mixing principles and methods have greatly influenced the way I mix now.

For these two guys, mixing is not complicated, but a fun and creative process; not to mention, a way of making things easy.

How To Be Successful In Mixing Music

These two mix engineers’ technique that makes their mixes outstanding is mixing in mono. They have been vocally straightforward in saying that mixing in mono is the secret to achieving clarity and balance to any mix. By this, it facilitates in opening the ears to help in the decision-making process. As a result, you can make the necessary and proper adjustments that are essential for the tracks.

Certainly, I have been writing about how mixing in mono changed the way I deal with my mixes. This is to emphasize that I got this technique from them, followed their recommendations, and applied the teaching to my tracks.

Graham and Joe are among the successful freelance mix engineers and home music producers that are utilizing this great technique, thus, resulting to amazing and epic mixing projects out of their home studios.

Graham Cochrane and the Importance of Mixing in Mono

Graham on his mixing desk

Graham Cochrane is a freelance recording and mix engineer from Tampa, Florida, who founded Recording Revolution, a very successful blog that helps anyone to make better sounding music at home. His passion paved way to creating the blog in educating musicians all over the world and inspiring them to make music with what they already have.

He significantly turned my mixing skills around 360 degrees just by one concept alone – and that is to mix in mono.

Emphasizing the importance of mixing in mono, he reiterates that it is not every day that we hear our music in stereo. As mix engineers, we are but to always check our mixes in the worst-case scenario.  If we go back to the history and evolution of the music production process, albums and songs were recorded and mixed in mono – having in mind that the speaker system at that time were built mono. It is only up to the present day that we are factoring stereo separation and panning because of the emerging music genres of today.

3 Mixing In Mono Pointers

 

Here are three pointers for mixing in mono that Graham wants us to always bear in mind:

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Getting The Appropriate Balance

Since all the tracks are in the center, it forces the brain to analyze the volume balance.  Can you still hear the guitars aside from the piano? What about the other instruments? Do the violins somehow get covered by the pads?  Do the tracks sound muddy?

We can make the right EQ decisions based from the information we get listening to the tracks in mono.

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Phase 

One important aspect of the mix is all the tracks are coherent in terms of phase. Listening to the mix in mono allows you to gauge whether the instruments are out of phase or not. An example of this is when you recorded a piano piece that sound great and clear in stereo, but disappears in mono. How’s that possible? Graham has mentioned that this instance can be a result of the piano has been recorded. The mics could be out of phase of each other. Therefore, it is a must to listen in mono to check phase issues.

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A Focused Approach

Graham points out that this method is an opportunity to limit our options, simplify our thought process, and gives us a more focused environment in evaluating our mixing decisions.

Joe Gilder and His Steps in Mixing in Mono

Joe Gilder is the founder of Home Studio Corner, an outstanding blog that helps home studios excel. A songwriter/musician who is passionately in love with the recording process, and shares his knowledge to the world.

He, as a mix engineer, encourages us to mix in mono because of its benefits!

Aside from using the method for phase issues, he also wants us to check our mixes in mono to deal with low end problems.  Mixing in mono helps us to identify any bass issues and fix the issues with corrective EQ.

These are his steps:

First, pan the Left and Right sliders of the master fader to the center

Second, use a plugin that changes a stereo track to mono. You can also use a monitor management box for this as well.

Lastly, switch back from mono to stereo and check the mix.

There you have it. By listening to Graham and Joe and applying what I’ve learned from them, my skills improved dramatically. As one of their students in Dueling Mixes, I’d say that you should do the same – Mix in Mono.

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Gelot Macaranas

CEO and Founder at GMac Productions
Known as GMac, is the CEO and Founder of GMac Productions, which aims to help home musicians get better in their music creation process. She is a musically fired up entity who plays harmonies in her sleep. On her free time, she writes blogs and makes music production videos on her Youtube channel.

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