• Virtual mixing desk

Can you learn how to mix from a book or a video?

Watching a professional engineer at work can make mixing seem so easy. Leaving you to wonder, why in the world you can’t get your mix to sound like that with just a few plugins and tweaks. Well, you most certainly can!

The three pillars

Some engineers may say you can never learn about eq, compression or mixing from books or videos but only by spending lots of time behind a mixing desk or a DAW. Of course you need to practice, that’s after all how you get better at something. But before you can practice you need to know what and how to practice. Fundamental knowledge is something that you can most certainly get from reading a book or watching a video. If you were to practice without this knowledge you’d be going in all the wrong directions and it will take you a lot more time

Like with all creative things in life, getting good at it is based on three pillars; Knowledge, Practice and Skills. Having proper and fundamental knowledge allows you to practice. Practicing a lot will give you the skills that you need to build competence and expertise.

When a Chef in a restaurant produces a dish, it’s the way he combines the ingredients that makes the final dish outstanding in flavour. But he couldn’t have done it without knowing how to properly hold his knife without chopping off his fingers, how to filet a fish, or the fact that the longer you fry an onion the sweeter it gets. This knowledge is crucial to start cooking in the first place. Practicing with that knowledge brought him the skills of cooking and the path to building expertise and producing such a fine dish.

Mixing audio is a lot like cooking

The same goes for mixing. You need to know about things like how a compressor works, what all the parameters of a Reverb mean and which frequencies the different instruments produce. Having this fundamental knowledge allows you to practice with a clear goal and build the skills needed to create a great mix.

A clear goal in practicing

Of course no mix is the same and there are many variables that apply. Each song has its own musical style, a different arrangement and every recording of an instrument is unique. But you can master all these separate elements. Sure there’s no master template for equalising an instrument. You still have to assess which instruments have overlapping frequencies and how they interfere or complement one another. But each instrument does have a typical frequency characteristic that you can learn about. Knowing which frequency does what to an instrument allows you to realise what is going on in your mix and how to fix it.

Once you have this knowledge you can spend enough hours practicing and knowing what you are doing. Slowly you will discover how instruments relate in a mix, how they interfere with each others frequencies and how to shape them so they can complement each other. As a result the bass range in your mix starts to sound tighter and punchier. You slowly understand how to create depth and space in your mix and how to keep it interesting. You start to build your own style and gain the ability to express your own creativity.

All that knowledge can most certainly be learned from books or watching video tutorials. The EQ Blueprints in Mix Buddy are a great way to learn about the frequencies that shape an instrument, and the growing library of video tutorials provide a wealth of knowledge about fundamental mix technologies. These allow you to practice with purpose, build your skills and bring you good results a lot quicker.