Piano is one of the most beautiful sounding instruments around, but it can be one of the most challenging instruments to mix. Mixing piano is tough because it has a large frequency range and dynamic range. To help you make make your piano sound lifelike and huge, I've put together these guide on how to mix piano.
Note: some of the links below may be affiliate links, meaning that I receive a commission if you purchase through them.
Choosing which piano plugin to use, and how intensively to mix it, depends on the context of your music. The mixing techniques and plugin you're going to use for a solo classical piano performance are much more straightforward than for a modern neo-classical or pop song.
This guide to mixing piano will teach you the most "extreme" settings. Use your ears and taste to figure out how much you should dial things back. The more instruments there are in the mix, the simpler the piano processing should be.
Using a sidechain compressor is one of the best ways to get punchy, clear mixes. Sidechain compression can substitute for EQ, control
reverb, and help glue your mix together.
In this article, I'll first briefly describe what compression is, then talk about how sidechain compression is different. From there, I'll show you three great examples of when to use sidechain compression.
If you'd prefer to hear audio examples, check out this video I made on sidechain compression.
Before we get into discussing sidechain compression, I think it's worth spending a minute discussing regular old compression. A lot of people know that compression can be used to automatically lower the volume of track.
But most people fail to recognize the compression doesn't lower the volume uniformly.
Instead, compression lowers the volume of a sound at a certain point in time. You can almost think of it as an ADSR curve.
By increasing the attack time of the compressor, you...
It can be quite overwhelming when you start out mixing your own music. You don’t know where to start and it all sounds like a big mess, you thought it would be easier.
It takes time to learn how to mix well and the main casualty of this is that you can’t seem to finish any mixes. They all need something but you don’t know what and you feel stuck.
The following tips will help you to re-focus and keep you on track as you mix, eliminate overwhelm as you realize that you don’t need to know everything yet and that great mixes can be achieved using only the basic stock plugins that came with your DAW.
Note: this is a guest post by the wonderful BBC-trained mix engineer Sara Carter.
Keep things simple
When you’re starting out, It’s really easy to keep adding more and more plugins, not to say that is a bad thing but it is if you don’t know what you’re adding them for.
Quickly listen to each track both in solo and in the mix and ask yourself:...
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