What is mixing?

When you mix a project, you balance the different parts and blend them into a cohesive whole. You can also add effects to tracks—including the master track—to change their sound, and use automation to create dynamic changes in your project over time.

Mixing typically involves the following steps:

  • Set track volume levels to balance different instruments so nothing is hidden, and the most important parts stand out in the mix.

  • Set track pan positions to place instruments in the stereo field. Typically you want to have the most important tracks (usually lead vocals, solo instruments, drums, and bass) positioned in the center of the mix, and have other tracks (rhythm instruments and instruments doubling the melody) to the sides. In general, most of the mix should be close to the center, with tracks panned far to the sides only for an unusual effect.

  • Add and adjust effects to color the sound of a track or the overall project. You can use effects for several different reasons. EQ and compression are typically used to bring out certain tracks or instruments in the mix. Reverb is used to add a sense of sonic space, while effects such as flangers, phasers, and auto-tune filters are used to impart a unique character to a track or instrument. Because effects are so versatile, try out different effects and presets to find the ones you like best, and edit presets on effects you find interesting, to fine-tune the sound even more to your liking.

  • Create changes over time using automation curves on an individual track or the master track, to help add drama and tension to a project. Automation can also be used to highlight certain tracks at a particular point in time, to change effects settings in different parts of the project to modify their sound, and to change the tempo and pitch of the overall project.

  • In the process of mixing, you can accelerate and simplify your workflow by muting and soloing tracks.