How to prepare your tracks for mixing

Your tracks have been recorded, you are happy with the results and now you want to get a good mix out of them. Great!

Here are some guidelines that are good to follow in order to let the mixing engineer focus on the mix:

Send only the audio to be used in the mix. It is good practice (and almost standard) to record more than one take per instrument or vocal and then select different pieces of each performance to create the perfect take. This should be done before sending your tracks to get mixed. Be sure to send the best performance! Not a set of tracks from where the engineer must pick one.

If possible, have your tracks at a sensible level. This means that it’s good that the different volume levels of the different tracks are coherent. For example, no 20 dB difference between them. Now, please keep the volume under 0 dB. This avoids unnecessary distortion that damages your music.

A good source is the only way to get a good mix.

Edit your tracks. Clean them up. Remove any background noises that you do not want to have in your final mix. Make sure that all instruments and vocals are synched, that they follow the tempo of the song (specially the drums and the base guitar). If some tuning is needed, this is the stage to do it in.

To edit your tracks in a good way can mean a world of difference, it’s the difference between an ok/bad song and an awesome one.

Remove all effects on the tracks. If you added some effects (like compression, EQ, delay or reverb) to your tracks, please remove them before sending them to us. Unless those effects are part of the fundamental sound of the track. If you used a Limiter, please remove it.

To mix a song which tracks have effects on them makes the mixing engineer’s job difficult, if not impossible.

Label your tracks properly. Give them names that describe what they are. Examples can be “KickDrum”, “ElGuitar_solo”, “Bass”. You get the idea.

To have self explanatory names on your tracks makes the mixing process much faster and fun.

Consolidate and export your tracks. This means that every track shall start at the same point in time (usually at zero). This is very important because the mixing engineer can import all of your tracks directly to the software he/she is using and start working on the mix at once.

Render any software instruments/sounds down to audio. Did you use an amp emulator for your guitar? Or added this beautiful strings quartet? Or a special pad you like? Send the rendered version to the mixer. It’s most probable that he/she does not own the same virtual instruments you do.

Give the tempo of the song. The process of mixing also includes some “sweetening”. This means that the mixing engineer may add some arrangements to make the track more engaging. The tempo of the song is very important for this.

Some extra information that is really good to have are the key of the song, reference songs and rough mixes, the sample rate and bit depth the song was recorded at, and a copy of the lyrics.

These are simple steps and pieces of information that help the mixing process a great deal, which in turn produce much better sounding mixes.

After the above steps are done, and done correctly, all you have to do is wait a bit till the mix is done. And after that: fulfill your goal of showing your music to the world.