Achieving consistency in your mixing is a tough thing to do. Some of them seem to come out louder, some softer, some just better.
But there’s an easy and quick way to help you find a consistent way to measure your mix so that you reach a good mix every time. It has to do with metering and the actual level of your mix.
Setting a deliberate level to mix at is a good idea, as it will help you achieve consistency across the board. But how can you do this? Let’s check it out.
The first thing you’ll need is a good meter. I like the PSP 2Meters, and for only $15, it’s an incredible value. This meter allows you to change the reference point, which is very important. It also has a classic VU meter, for those of you who are used to looking at a set of real meters.
No matter what meter you’re using, you’ll want to know a few things about the level.
-12 dB FS is equal to 0 dB VU. This is what you want to mix at.
You may have heard other numbers, like -18 dB, -14 dB, but the truth is that -12 dB just lines up better with a real VU meter. After countless tests on real VU meters, -12 dB is definitely true 0 dB.
Set your meters to read at -12 dB FS. This will allow you to mix and hit zero on the VU meter. Mixing at the same level each time will help you compare your mixes easier, and will also allow you to find the “sweet spot” for your different instruments.
For example, when I’m mixing a rock track where the drums need to be in your face, I know that if I start mixing the drums first, I’ll need to be hitting about -5 dB VU (with the meter set to -12 dB FS) to get a good level in the mix. These are the types of things you’ll discover about your mixes by using a good meter.
So pay closer attention to your meters and use them to actually help you mix.