It’s a hundred degrees in Los Angeles, so I (of course) stepped outside to shoot this one…
We’re here in sunny L.A., and I’m stepping out of my studio for a second. I wanted to get some sun because I’ve been starting at a screen all day.
I want to give you guys a quick mixing tip on how you can manipulate the three dimensions of your mixes to add impact to choruses, make things hit harder, and bring your tracks to life.
In the mixing process, we have three dimensions that we can play with.
We have our left-to-right dimension, or panning…how wide or narrow things are.
We have our top-to-bottom dimension, or the frequency response of your mix. Is it bright? Is it dull? Is there a lot of top end? Is there a lot of low end? Or is it fairly filtered, and there’s really just midrange?
And then we have the front-to-back dimension. This really refers to the depth of your mix. How far do things feel like they extend back beyond the speakers? Does the mix feel shallow, where everything is sitting right on the front plane of the speakers? Or does it feel like it extends several feet back beyond the speakers?
You have these three dimensions to play with, but you can manipulate them during the course of a song to enhance transitions between sections, make certain sections hit harder and feel bigger, and really take a song and bring it to life.
Conceptually, the way to think about this is that in order for something to feel big, something else has to feel small. If every section in your mix feels massive, then nothing feels massive.
If you’re trying to make a chorus hit really hard, for example (we want to really feel like we arrive when the chorus hits), then make your verse feel smaller. Then, when the chorus hits, we’ll feel this sense of expansion. We’ll feel like we’ve arrived…like we’ve hit this moment in the mix.
The way to do this is that you can actually manipulate those three dimensions. In the verse, you can bring your panning in. Suddenly things feel a little bit narrower. Maybe you lose a little bit of that top end and low end and filter things down a little bit so they feel a little smaller in that dimension. And then, maybe in the front-to-rear dimension you’re not using as much reverb in the verse, so things feel drier and more up-front. There’s not as much of that depth.
Then, when the chorus hits, suddenly you have elements you can introduce that are panned hard left and right. Suddenly that dimension gets really wide. Then you have a really bright hi-hat part or a low bass that comes in, so that dimension kicks in. And then you have this front to rear dimension through reverb or delay or things that feel further away from us. Suddenly, you feel like there’s this depth that comes in.
And so we have something that starts here in the verse [makes hand gesture of fist] and expands into the chorus. And that’s how you can manipulate the three dimensions in your mix to start to enhance and support the song’s arc and dynamics.
This is the difference between good mixers and great mixers. Great mixers know how to use these three dimensions to support a song’s arc and a song’s arrangement, and really start to manipulate those dynamics.
Hope you guys found that helpful. Shoutout to Daniel Mabon, who inspired this video. Catch you guys soon.
Happy mixing. Have a great weekend! Take care.