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View Profile Midnights-Ocean
I make music and sounds. I post mostly on newgrounds so people can use them in games and such. My full albums can be found on my home page below.

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Joined on 3/12/09

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Poor man's mixing & mastering

Posted by Midnights-Ocean - October 19th, 2020


So since I lost my studio some 5 years ago, I've had the interesting challenge of finishing a life's works without most of the tools that make music post production easy. Sure I'm no stranger to doing post production 100% inside the box but not like this. A lot of people I know on line, just guess. Well, they say they have a method but the results are often akin to shooting in the dark. At first I was just making educated guesses based on experience. Experience is a pretty heavy hitter when it comes to getting music production right. Never before though had I been forced to do this much blind mixing/production. No reference monitors. No reference room. No buddies with amazing ears who could stop by for tea and listen to my latest mix.


So, for the first few years of studio-less life, my mixes did not turn out well. Nothing world ending but not good IMO. I don't quite remember when but I finally realized, to just mix by real time spectra graph. Such a simple solution, I kick my self for not realizing this years ago. Just look at the real time frequency spread and mix till it averages out to a nice even slope angling down from bass to treble. The more forward you want the mix, the more gradual the slope.


Turns out this method works brilliantly and takes out of the equation any gear, budget or human relativity effects. changing ears and opinions no longer drive me nuts changing every day or week. No more heading back to fix things for the millionth time, because my ears decided it was too *fill in the blank* that day, or some person decided to convince me of their mixing opinion, because they *knew* better that day, which usually means they watched a youtube video and think that counts as experience in a real life studio. No more getting pressured into thinking my mix needs some new piece of, usually expensive, gear.


One more time, the best solution, was simple and right in front of my nose the whole time.


So now, the way I come at mixing and mastering is humble, simple but highly effective. Yes, of course it wont "sound as good" as some super expensive studio mixing mastering but if your composition needs that sort of thing in order to be good, you are focusing too much on packaging and not enough on content. The universal truth in art is, it's always only as good as the writing. If you can't write for shit, post production is just polishing a turd.


Being low on money, my method can't rely on lots of expensive plugins either. I'm sure there are some suites out there that will "mix and master" for you. I am dubious about those claims honestly. For me though, free is the best. I found some great free plugins from meldaproduction. Logic Pro's EQ and adaptive limiter provides the graph, EQing and some light limiting while removing DC. Meldaproduction provides a great free loudness analyzer for LUFs, true peak and a not free multi-band limiter with saturation plugin that is mystical (saturation in general is an AMAZING tool). I've actually found these 5 plugins combined to be a 1000 times more effective than any compressors, even multi-band. I keep tokyodawn's nova active EQ on hand too, for the occasional hard to cure EQ issue (usually bass or that notorious 4kHz hot spot). Very rarely will I use a compressor. My rule of thumb is, if I need a compressor on the mains, the tune isn't mixed enough yet. So for the price of a cheap pair of useless monitors that wouldn't help, I got Meldaproduction's multi-band limiter. Which actually does what it's advertised to do, eliminate your volume handicap without trashing your sound. Oh man does it ever! A must for someone like me, since I actually want to keep as much of the quality and dynamics as I can. <:D


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Comments (2)

I think you do yourself a disservice bro. You mix well, you adapt to the tools you have. You always take feedback on board and implement it. I know myself I'm hit and miss with mixes, i try my best and I constantly learn. We all have preferences, those personal touches define our unique tones. I like to mix like a soundstage or a live band, which makes my mixes quite wide, some like it some don't. Others mix centrally, which i don't like. Choices in dynamic range, i love layers and nuance, but 99/100 no-one cares i layered 15 guitar parts, or eq'd a string just right. They only see the end. At least we enjoy the journey. keep being awesome

hey thanks brah! few people take the time to say suck things. I appreciate it. : )

@pitbulljones *such things* lol