3 Free Ways To Vastly Improve Your Mix Before You Press Record

Recently, Ross Hughes from Pro Tools Expert went over techniques to improve your records before you even get into the intricacies of what kind of gear and software to use. I felt it would be useful to go over them here since we don’t always spend enough time mastering the basics of making records. And we always need a reminder that our ears are one of the most important pieces of gear we use. Some of the greatest drum sounds, guitar sounds, and vocal sounds ever have been achieved using these techniques, and they’re free!


  1. The Room Matters

Whether you are in a fully sound proofed, “dead” room or a lively room with all hard surfaces – instruments are going to sound different at different positions throughout the room. Take some time to listen to your instrument at different positions in the room and decide what sounds best. Use your ears and trust them! If you are unsure still, make a few test recordings at the different positions and simply listen back. Use the room’s natural acoustics to your advantage. What kind of microphone you are using will also dictate your result. Take time and experiment. It will save you time in the end and will give your recording character that would be difficult to replicate with any kind of gear.

2. Mic Placement Matters

As mentioned above, what type of microphone you use will dictate your sound. To elaborate on that point, the placement of the mic will dictate your sound as well. There is no right or wrong here. Learn what you like and make it work for you. Some mic positions will bring out the bass, others the high end, others will give you more room sound. For this kind of experimentation it’s necessary to make test recordings of each mic position and compare.

3. Gear Settings Matter

Without getting into what kind of gear to use and when, we’ll keep it basic, you are using some combination of gear to record. The settings on each piece of gear will affect the sound of what you record. Some mics have the ability to change the impedance, some have high pass or low pass filters, some have other settings to mess with. Same with your pre-amp. Whatever combination of settings you use can greatly effect and improve your recording. For instance, if you are recording a guitar, try switching on the high pass filter on your mic (if it has one of course). If you listen back and you’re not missing any necessary frequency information, you’re already starting with a cleaner and clearer sound.


If you really want to take your recordings to the next level, spending time making sure things sound right on the way in is necessary. We have so many options and can do so much with gear and plug-ins today, but working with a higher quality sound from the beginning will outperform anything you can do with a plug-in to a lower quality sound.



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