Interactive Processing: Something You Should Be Doing

How do you apply effects your tracks while mixing? We’re not talking about what plugins you’re using – we’re talking about what process you’re using.

It’s a good idea to hear exactly what a certain plugin is doing to one track specifically. You obviously don’t want to completely trash a track and not even know it.

But soloing out a track to add processing is only half of what you should be doing.

Here’s the other half:

Processing individual tracks while listening to the entire mix/stem.

This is an important step in the mixing process. If you’re not doing this, then how do you know how your processing is changing the entire mix?

Let me give you an example:

The other day I was working on a mix with a pretty important piano part. It was a pretty full mix, so the piano had to sit just right.

I soloed it out and started apply effects – it needed some slight compression and a little EQ to make it a little thinner. It was also really dry. Too dry. So I started adding reverb. I went through my top two favorite plugins for piano reverb before I finally landed on the one I wanted. I dialed it in and made it sound incredible.

It sounded incredible until I took off the solo button, at least. As soon as I heard it in the mix, it sounded muddy and far too “big”. If I had just moved on, the mix would not have turned out how I expected.

That’s because I needed to still to the second stage of processing – adjusting the plugins while listening to the entire mix at once. I pulled back the reverb and adjusted the EQ to make it a little thinner. All of the sudden, it sounded incredible again.

It’s not about how your tracks sound soloed out – it’s how they sound all together. Don’t forget this step on your next mix!

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