I’m currently in the process of recording all the parts for a bunch of pop/rock songs.
I’m happy with my playing, and recording is going ok, but what I know nothing about is mixing and producing.
Does anyone know of perhaps an ‘idiot’s guide’ to this sort of thing? There must be fairly standard procedures for how low or high in the mix you would typically make each instrument, and how to set levels so no one instrument is too loud, or is getting drowned out.
Does anyone have any advice, or is anyone able to point me towards any web resources?
That would be the sea of bouncing light sound meters in a mixing studio. In Audacity you get one. You can mix anywhere you want as long as you don’t ever hit maximum on the meters. There are a couple of tricks to exporting, but that’s later.
<<<how to set levels so no one instrument is too loud, or is getting drowned out.>>>
That would be the expensive speaker system in a recording studio. There’s no instrument or filter for that. You have to listen. You will be mixing on the computer speakers which will be terrible unless you spent multiple hundred dollars for them, or on a good pair of headphones.
As you get into this, it’s helpful to pop back and forth between music you like and what you’re doing. Good speakers go a long way to success in this stuff.
I got into trouble a while back by trying out my first effects-heavy, multi-track production. (You need to be in Audacity 1.3.11, by the way. Earlier versions aren’t up to this.) I never finished it. The effects management was so convoluted I ran out of time to mess with it. It wasn’t a very long piece, either. For example, Audacity applies effects like equalizer and compressor in sequence. If you apply three different effects and you decide you didn’t like the first one, you have to take them all out and put them all back in again.
Audacity at its base is a very simple sound editor and you can run out if you try to push it too far.
To specifically answer you, click on the Tips and Tutorials link at the top of this page. That will take you to the pages and pages of help system. I’ve never found a mix tutorial. Happy digging.
Ok…I’ll keep looking around. I was after a quick fix, or at least some quick reference. There’s often no way to cheat.
I can’t see my recording problems being anything like yours. I’m trying to record as simply as possible, and I’m not worried about a professional, glossy, finish, more a fully instrumented record of the songs (so I don’t forget them!). It has involved learning how to programme drums and bass, which has been interesting in itself.
As such I’m not planning on assigning any effects in Audacity, I’m planning to record the sound input on my computer and leave it at that. So if I get the sound going in as good as it can be with my primitive set up, my only real issue is mixing it as well as I can.
My results so far have been half-decent. It sounds like a garage bands demo tape, which is fine by me. I’m hoping the standard of playing and my multi-instrumentalisation will make up for deficiencies in production!
I keep wondering whether I could do more with a more sophisiticated peice of recording software (cubase, reaper etc), but then I realise that firstly I probably wouldn’t be able to use them properly, and secondly the limitation on the quality of recording is probably my soundcard, which I may upgrade in the future.
Like me. I use Audacity in its simple recording mode and I’ve recorded many voice tracks for commercial products as well as other sound tracks for in-house productions. Quiet room, simple microphone and mixer and a Mac with Audacity will take you a long way in capturing high quality sound.
I won’t be recording Earth At Night or any other multi-element band any time soon, but for simple setups it just can’t be beat. Given I know the band members, I might even be able to force that to work.
I’ve been experimenting with Audacity for a little while, actually, and I’ve been on this forum before looking for advice when my original method of recording proved impossible.
I’ve gone for a better, simpler audio product for the input into Audacity, which is making recording easy and fun. I’m just anticipating that once I’ve recorded all the tracks for a particular song I’ll want to get the instruments balanced properly in the mix, and I have no idea how to do that. Listening to pop music (and a lot of commercial rock) it’s actually low end/high end heavy- i.e. the drums and bass, and the vocals are high in the mix. However, I’m not a great bass player and the drums are synthesised so I don’t want them to dominate. I don’t want to boost the mid range sounds too much though, or it might sound like a muddy mess. I guess a bit of trial and error is probably the answer.
My best moment with Audacity so far was recording a harmonised mandolin/electric guitar solo. That rocks.
One more quick question- once you’ve recorded a song, and got the levels of each track as you’d like, is it simply a case of exporting it to a .wav or an mp3 file? Or is there any other steps in the process, or any techniques to get a better result at this stage?
Basically yes - but you can Mix&Render (in 1.3 use Tracks > Mix and Render - in 1.2 use Project > Quickmix ) prior to export to see how the mix is.
What you need to be careful of is that when you combine the tracks in the mix then the mixed signal can sometimes go into clipping (over-saturation). In which case you would need to reduce the amplitude of the individual tracks. This is a good reason fior you to use the mix&render prior to export (You can always Undo after the M&R if it does go into clipping).
BTW in 1.3 there is an option you can set to “Show Clipping” - clipped audio shows up as red lines - Use View > Show Clipping I’d recommend leaving this option turned on at all times. I can’t remember if you can do that in 1.2
Do you mean that even if the individual tracks aren’t clipping, they can clip once you play them together? If so, I think I’ve noticed this and I’ll take your advice to rectify it.
Vocals are the thing I have the biggest problem recording without clipping. I don’t know if it’s just my voice, or if it’s that vocals have a wide range of volumes to account for, but I’ve not found a perfect way of doing it yet.
Nice one. I’ve exported some of the tracks (just to see how they sound), and I’ve noticed the track clipping as a buzzing or ‘roaring’ sound (particularly on headphones) so I’ll sort that out in the finished mix thanks to your advice.
The people I’ve played the tracks to thus far have commented how professional and polished they actually sound, so I think I was just being overly critical.
Very happy with Audacity, it’s doing everything I wanted and a bit more.