When you write and record a song, you should have every instrument and vocal on its own separate channel. For example, a basic song could have one track for guitar, one for lead vocals and one more for background vocals. Once this is done, you are ready to start the mixing process. Let’s break this down into three steps.
1. Levels and Panning – The most fundamental principle of mixing is levels and panning. During this process, you can make the vocal a bit louder than the guitar, and set the panning, so it resembles a stage. For example, you can pan the guitar a bit to the right and keep the singer panned in the middle.
2. Compression and EQ – Compression can bring the dynamics of a performance together, whereas EQ can make the source sound brighter or darker. So if the singer is singing loud at times and soft at others, compression can bring the difference between the two closer. If the guitar sounds muddy, you can use EQ to brighten it up.
3. Reverb and Effects – Reverb and other effects can bring a song to life. You can use reverb plugins to make the singer sound like she’s singing in a small room or a huge hall. This tends to be the most creative part of mixing.