Top Mixing Engineers for hire
You have good sounding recorded tracks. Get a professional mix to turn your recordings into a great sounding song.
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22 Billboard #1 albums, 43 GRAMMY® winning and nominated artists, with billions of streams. Ariel Chobaz is a GRAMMY® nominated, 62x platinum mix engineer with 15 years of experience taking songs to the next level. Credits include Drake, Rihanna, Camila Cabello, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Sia, and many others. Let's get to work!!
CREDITS: Future, Icewear Vezzo, Gucci Mane, Kevin Gates, Lil Mosey, Trouble, Rocko, Travis Porter, Sony, Interscope and many others. Unlimited Free Revisions. Millions of streams worldwide. I've earned over 1,500 five star customer reviews and counting. I'm experienced in multiples of music genres and open to working in all...
François Michaud is a French producer, mixer, mastering engineer, songwriter, composer, session and live musician (guitar and guitar bass) since 1990. "when I'm working on an album or a song (recording / mixing), I always try to have the best and the right feelings. For me, it's the most important thing... That's what gives me ideas and thrills !"
Benny Steele is a grammy-nominated, multi-platinum mix engineer. He engineered on Justin Bieber’s single, “Boyfriend" and received a grammy-nomination for his production and mixing work on Frankie J’s new album Hope, Faith y Amor on Universal, including the single, “Impossible.” He has worked with: Jason Derulo, David Guetta, and Pitbull.
300,000,000+ Streams, 30 #1 singles and 50 top ten albums. World class mix engineer will give your music big sonic impact. Dolby Atmos and immersive audio specialist. Designer of Waves Surround Tools and Waves NX. Apple Mastered For iTunes Certified engineer
203 million Spotify streams 2022, 100% 5-star reviews. 5,5 million monthly listeners on my main profile "KLAAS" on Spotify. Reached #1 Billboard Club Charts in July 2019. Collaborations with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. Style: Combination of powerful and emotional productions/mixdowns/masterings.
I've mixed Death Cab for Cutie, Florence and the Machine, HE WHO CANNOT BE NAMED. The Samples, Cordova, and Domes of Energy. My mixing approach brings clarity, power & strength to your songs. My goal is to help you sound competitive and to help you make something that will last.
Jason Richmond is a Grammy nominated producer, engineer and mixer who has worked with such artists as The Avett Brothers, Joe Henry, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Kate McGarry, The Bad Plus, and The Foreign Exchange. Jason is grateful to work with talented musicians in beautiful spaces and be a part of the creative alchemy that brings forth a record.
Matt Sim is a Grammy-nominated and award winning mixer (Stereo/ATMOS/360RA). Former staff mixer at The Hit Factory NYC. He is currently the leading Dolby Atmos mixer in Asia, signed to Warner Music Asia in 2021.
Grammy nominated, multi-platinum recording, mixing and mastering engineer, with 15+ years of music industry experience. Currently a Sr. Staff Engineer at Conway Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA, and previously Head Technician/Sr. Engineer at APG/Atlantic Records.
Grammy-nominated Mixer/Producer/Engineer that has worked on records ranging from The Killers and U2 to Taylor Swift and One Direction. With every project I take on I give my full attention and expertise until the client is completely satisfied. I won't take on any project unless I have full confidence I will achieve the results you are looking for.
Multi-platinum producer and engineer with multiple #1 hits with artists such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Bruno Mars. Over 10 years writing with indie and major label experience. I love working with new talent and bringing that creative edge to mixing and engineering. Let's have some fun and bring your project to the next level.
Nevison first found success in England as the engineer on Quadrophenia (The Who), Physical Graffiti (Led Zeppelin), and Bad Company's first three albums. He produced, engineered and mixed Heart's hits "Alone" and "These Dreams" Chicago's "Look Away" Damn Yankees "High Enough" Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" and the Tommy Film Soundtrack and album
With experiences working with Kelly Clarkson, Lil Huddy, Travis Barker, Cuco, EricDoa, Ellah Hale, Cousin Stizz, and more, I know what it takes to get your song across the finish line. Let’s work and make your song the best it can be!!
✅ $279 Mix & Master Deal For New Clients (mix, master, pitch correction & revisions) I'm a Multiplatinum Billboard Chart Topping Producer/Remixer/Engineer/Songwriter & DJ who has worked on 100's of projects for clients such as Beyonce, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Rugrats, Discovery & more. Let's make some hits together!- Mr. Mig
150,000,000+ Streams, DOLBY ATMOS MIXING, 20+ Yrs Experience, Unlimited Revisions Sefi Carmel is an award winning London-based composer, mixing / mastering engineer, producer and sound designer. He has been working with 'A-List' music artists and film productions for many years.
#1 Most Hired on Soundbetter. Unlimited Free Revisions. Millions of Streams. I’ve collaborated with Avicii & have Tracks on Spinnin, Ultra, Sony, & Warner. I mix, master, produce, & remix in all genres & have over 5000 5 star reviews. My music has been played by Tiesto, Prydz, Armin, Guetta, & Avicii!
I've worked with many nationally and internationally successful multi-platinum artists as well as countless local and independent talent, in a variety of genres. Worked on multiple #1's at radio. I'm a multi-instrumentalist with a solid understanding of music theory and approach all projects with a balance of technical proficiency and musicality.
Eight #1 RADIO SINGLES + combined over hundreds of millions of streams. GRAMMY WINNING MIXING QUALITY. I have songwriting, mixing and production credits with artists such as Monsta X, Armin Van Buuren, Mat Kearney, Colbie Caillat, Danny Gokey, For King and Country and I am currently signed to Capitol CMG.
I want to work with you! I've worked with: (the late) Maurice White, Zendaya, Mario, Kendrick Lamar, London, Young Chop, Lil Bibby, Pierre Bourne, Coco Jones, Bella Thorne, Christina Milian, Joe Budden, Xzibit, Ramsey Lewis, Adam Hicks, Corbin Bleu, Drew Sidora, Disney, CBS Paramount, Jive Records, Atlantic Records, Island Def Jam, Epic Records
Credits include Snoog Dogg, Usher, Sean Paul, Macy Gray, Jlo, G-Unit, Akon, Mario, Lloyd and more.18year veteran RIAA certified engineer specializing in urban, pop, and electronic genres. Mixtape and Album mixes for both major label & indy release in multiple countries and genres. Let me bring that experience and expertise to your project.
2x Latin Grammy Awards. 2x Anglo Grammy Nominations. +100,000,000 streams. Mixed tracks for #1 Billboard record. Mixed a song for Oscar Winning Disney's Soundtrack. Fast turn-arounds, world class quality. Credits with: Carlos Vives, Rubén Blades, Paul Van Dyk, Alejandro Sanz, Camilo, Fito Paez. Modern sounding hits. Hit me up and let's get started!
Daytime EMMY nominated, 2X GRAMMY certificate and 2X Golden Melody Award nominee. Multiplatinum audio engineer credited w/ Billboard charting hits (MJ, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber). Mixer for 2022's winning Best R&B Album & Single in Taiwan (Karencici-GIMA).
Over 1 BILLION Streams, Vic's work include Sofia Reyes' MAL DE AMORES (Album), Jake Miller's SILVER LINING (Album), amongst countless other artists under Sony Music, Universal Music, Warner, and Independent.
I'm a Multi-Platinum, 1x Grammy Award Winning, & 3x Latin Grammy Nominated producer, songwriter, artist & engineer. I've worked on major artists' projects including Chris Brown, Ludacris, Missy Elliott, City Girls, Ozuna, Mary J Blige, SWV, Trina, Akapellah, & more! Looking forward to working with you soon.
I am French Mixing Engineer, Producer based in Los Angeles. With a wealth of experience working with top pop and indie artists, my credits include collaborations with Daft Punk, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Coldplay, Post Malone, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Jaden Smith, and Mark Ronson. Many Projects have been nominated and won Grammys.
Chris Sheldon is a London based mixer and producer with over 35 years of experience and many gold, silver and platinum records. Over the years Chris has produced or mixed records for the Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Therapy?, Feeder, Skunk Anansie, Prefab Sprout, The Boxer Rebellion, Nick Heyward, Bayside, Pixies and Anthrax to name but a few.
Rob Rox's fresh mixing talents have helped a huge and diverse array of musicians achieve household name and status. Awards: Kungs – Layers // 3 times diamond worldwide + Gold in France, Kungs – Dont You Know // Gold in France, Banks – Beggin For Thread // Gold + Platinum in USA, Klingande - Pumped Up Kicks // Gold in 7 countries
If you are looking for a sound that is organic yet defined, emotional and powerful, then MaxCarola is the one that should mix your songs! Feel the vibe and finally get that analogue feeling out of your Digital master.
I am a MPG Award nominated sound engineer & producer specialising in mixing and mastering and am certified to supply Apple Digital Masters. Coming from a Hip-Hop & electronic music background I now work mainly in alternative rock, folk & Jazz. I am working out of my Electronic Memory Studio in Frankfurt and The Cowshed in London.
100% five stars reviewed..‼️ My goal is the client satisfaction...❗️ I am a Sound Engineer with 25 years experience. I worked with many artists from America Europe Asia Australia and Africa.
World-class mixing and production tips to make your writing/creative work shine. You know your song needs a special mix. Maybe you aren't sure if the production is quite done, or the timing and tuning need tightening. That's where I can help, honest feedback and advice, additional production tricks and a perfect mix to bring it all together
50 Cent/G-Unit•PartyNextDoor•Azealia Banks•Ashanti• BET/MTV•Jesse Boykins• Jason Derulo• Fergie•Cassie•Luke James•Travis McCoy & more. Mentored by Ryan Leslie. Available for your projects now!
Tracks, remixes and albums released on XL Recordings, V2 (Virgin), Skint, Black Butter, Fabric, Ministry of Sound, OWSLA, Good Enuff (Mad Decent). I can mix, master, produce, co-produce your productions ready for clubs, festivals and radio. NEW : I can also provide mix feedback via the new SoundCheck feature in Additional Services section.
You’re passionate about your music. You've poured your heart and soul into your project to realize your vision. Let’s bring your vision to life and give your final mixes the same attention and pro-quality as platinum-selling records.
Specializing in Electronic Music of all genres, Gosteffects is available to bring your productions to the next level whether it is mixing, mastering, or taking your midi and running it through classic analog synths to bring music alive. Analog/Digital Mastering available. Read the reviews below to see what artists on SoundBetter are saying.
I've produced, written, and mixed songs totaling over 2 Billion streams spanning Kygo, Coldplay, Celine Dion, Elley Duhe, Gryffin, Galantis, Loud Luxury, Sam Feldt, Lauren Daigle, X Ambassadors and many more.
3x 💿 Platinum. Professional, powerful, creative. Collaboration is the key: no revisions limit, our workflow lets you control each step of the process without problems, giving life to the ideas you have in mind. MAGIC, FX & Tricks lovers, flexible, highly professional. Challenge us! Immersive, Atmos | Streaming sessions. www.esofrecords.com
350,000,000 + Combined Streams! Mix Engineer / Vocal Editor / Mastering Engineer. I've worked with ZAYN, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, J.Lo, Ryan Tedder, One Republic, Little Mix, Lil Mosey, Zendaya, Carly Rae Jepsen, Hailee Steinfeld, Jason Derulo, Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, JoJo, Chelsea Collins, Why Don't We, Sofia Carson, and many more! Let's Work!!
I'm a producer who's specialized in EDM, Pop, and Hip Hop music. I've worked with DJ ASHBA (former Guns N' Roses guitarist), Kutski, Geck-o, HARD with STYLE, Cloud9 Music, 2 Dutch (NL), Rob Papen, Polyverse, Infected Mushroom, etc. I have over (1Million) Spotify plays, (450K) Youtube plays, featured on Slam!, Decibel Outdoor Festival, Qlimax, etc.
Oasis, John Mayer, NIN, Paul McCartney, Blade Runner 2049, and much more. Los Angeles-based multiple Grammy-nominated Ghian Wright has been recording and mixing the biggest names in Rock and Pop for over 18 years. NEWS: OUT NOW--BLADE RUNNER:BLACK LOTUS!!!!! SOUNDTRACK AND SHOW MIXED BY Ghian!!
CREDITS: Maxim / The Prodigy, Ludacris, Wiz Khalifa, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Gorillaz, Sean Paul, Swedish House Mafia, Sugababes, Ms Dynamite, Kelis, Nadia Rose. Trained and then worked in top London studios for 20+ years (Miloco, StrongRoom, Townhouse) / Advanced Mixing Course tutor for 10 years at The London School of Sound.
I've been working professionally for 20 years, with artists of all levels and in all genres, and was the Head Engineer of one of Canada's top studios (Toronto's Metalworks) before going freelance in 2006. Let's discuss your project!
Well seasoned Engineer with credits on projects that have charted top 10 on radio and albums that have gone multi-platinum. Open minded approach to all projects and willing to give an outside opinion to help deliver a quality final product. Lover of harmonic distortion!!!!!
Mixer/producer/engineer for St. Vincent (Grammy-winning, "Daddy's Home"), Weyes Blood, Parquet Courts, Matt Berninger/Ronboy/Resynator, Jane., Julia Stone, others! Always song-focused and endlessly dedicated to creating great records. I have my own studio in LA where I mix.
Hit Songwriter, producer, mix engineer and vocal recording specialist. Winner of Modern Mixing 'Oxygen' Mix Contest. Available for co-writing, production and mixing work. Happy to program your tracks from scratch, even if you don't play an instrument.
Starting at the legendary Westlake, Jeff has worked on projects by Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, No Doubt, Sting, Randy Jackson, Liz Phair, Staind and more, spent time in the studio with amazing producers like Don Was, Josh Abraham, Rick Rubin, Glen Ballard, Ric Ocasek and learned the art of mixing from Spike Stent, Tim Palmer and Humberto Gatica.
Grammy and Oscar-winning Engineer. Credits with NIN, Foo Fighters, Billy Idol, Steven Wilson, Moby, Danzig, Marylin Manson, Muse, Neil Young, Michael Bublé, and Keith Urban among others. Over 20 years experience with industry greats in coveted studios.
The Insider's guide to hiring a mixing engineer
Choosing a mixing engineer is a key part of producing a song. A good mix can help a good recording shine, while a mediocre mix might make it sound flat. Since it's not common practice or recommended to re-record parts after a song has been mixed (although in rare cases it happens), mixing is undeniably a milestone in the production process. It is a moment where musicians and producers have to 'let go' and put their faith in a specialist to do their recording justice. Let's start from the beginning.
What is mixing?
Music mixing is the process of taking a multi track recording and 'mixing' it down to one single stereo track (left and right). Before mixing you have a multi track session – for example 12 individual drum tracks, 6 vocal tracks, a bass track, 2 guitar tracks, 4 keyboard tracks totaling more than a dozen tracks. After mixing you would have one stereo file. This audio file is almost the final product for distribution. A song is truly 'done' once the mix is mastered. So why is mixing so important? Because during the mixing process, the mixing engineer does much more than just 'combine' the tracks. Mixing is all about context, the way individual elements of the arrangement behave, sound and feel relative to each other, and how that affects the overall experience of the listener. The mixing process can be divided into the following main parts. An easy way to understand them is through the tools the mixer uses for each. The combination of these things the mixer does hugely affects the sound and feel of the recorded song, which is why good mixing is so important.
Balance and panning
One of the most important components of mixing is balancing the levels of the individual instruments relative to each other. Should the guitar be loud or soft? Which instrument takes center stage at which section in the song? Balancing the levels of the individual recorded instruments might sound easy, but it's an art form. It's also dynamic. The level (volume) of a track (such as an instrument or voice track) does not stay level throughout the song. Different instruments typically take center stage at different moments otherwise the song would be boring. And because most instruments are dynamic themselves, some leveling is necessary to ensure that they are heard even if they sound too soft or loud in certain parts relative to other instruments. Sometimes an engineer will also 'mute' (silence) specific instruments in different sections of the song, but typically this is done as part of the arrangement by an arranger or producer before the tracks are given to the mixing engineer.
Panning involves choosing where on the stereo spectrum tracks play. Since most music today is listened to in stereo, individual instruments can be placed on the far left, smack in the middle, far right, or somewhere in between. Panning is used creatively, to create a feeling of width and sometimes motion. It's also used surgically, to help the listener understand which instrument is taking 'center stage' (literally). In recent years immersive audio and Dolby Atmos are becoming more popular, especially after Apple introduced Spatial Audio. With Dolby Atmos or Immersive, you have more than a stereo field, and the specialized engineers might mix your song for an output file that has seven or more channels.
Equalizing and compression
After level and panning, two important tools in a mixer's toolbox (and on most mixing console channels) are equalization and compression. If you are not familiar with what equalization does, just think of the 'treble or bass' knobs on old stereos or the EQ tab in iTunes. EQ is used to manipulate (raise or lower) certain frequencies. Sometimes EQs are used to manipulate groups of instruments or even the whole mix. The frequency curve an instrument was recorded depends on how and where it was recorded and with what microphone (if it's a live instrument), and it doesn't necessarily sound the best it can in raw form, especially in context of all the other instruments around it. Engineers can make instruments brighter or darker, more bass heavy or thinner in very particular ways to make them sit better with other instruments, and make sure they all have room in the mix. Equalization is used to treat instruments that fight each other for 'space' in the frequency spectrum. For example, bass and kick drums sometimes share low frequencies that compete. They both may sound great on their own, but together sound muddy. EQing can be used to bring out the best of a track or hide problem frequencies in specific tracks. To make instruments poke out of the mix or to feel softer, to get more clarity or increase or decrease the perceived warmth or weight of a track.
Compression is used in two ways. The most common use for a compressor is to level individual tracks' dynamic range. Imagine a waveform that has big spikes and deep valleys representing loud and soft parts. Compressors iron these spikes out, so the soft parts become a bit louder and the loud parts become a bit softer. A good example is the human voice - a very dynamic instrument. Within sentences or even single words there are big volume changes. Since we listen to pop music on small speakers or earbuds, often in noisy environments, hearing all the nuances of soft parts compared to loud parts is difficult, especially if we hear them alongside a dozen other instruments. Compression helps. It enables the listener to understand every soft syllable of a singer's voice, while ensuring loud syllables don't poke out to be harsh. This is key for being able to enjoy a recording without having your hand on the volume knob, as well as for understanding all the lyrics, even in the context of a busy mix and a noisy environment. Compressors are used to 'squish' and flatten out the roller coaster that is the internal volume of tracks within a recording.
The second way compressors are used is as a creative effect. A really cool thing can happen when you exaggerate a compressor's effect and push it hard. It actually changes the feel of the instrument. It can make an instrument that sounded kind of wimpy feel strong or more urgent. It can literally make drums sound like they were hit harder than they actually were, or vocals sound like they have more urgency and pop than their original recording. Compressors can be also used to make certain instruments feel like they are 'pumping' if used in a certain way and to 'glue' certain instruments together if they feel disconnected. Compressors are magical sonic manipulation tools, and when used correctly, can add character. This is why engineers love them so much.
Creative effects – reverbs, delays and more
A mix engineer's arsenal includes other creative effects for making songs sound more interesting and add 'ear candy'. Reverbs, delays, distortion, filters, chorus, flangers are all popular creative effects. Reverbs and delays are probably the most popular of the bunch and are used to add space and depth to mixes. Adding reverb or delay to instruments makes them sound like they are in a physical space. Since most tracks these days are recorded with the microphone very close to the source, they end up sounding up very close and dry when played back. Reverbs and delays address this problem and psychoacoustically place that same dry recording in a lush space. There are different flavors of reverbs and some actually have names of spaces like 'small club' or 'large hall'. By adding reverb and delay, instruments or vocals sound 'farther away', providing an awesome way to give the mix a sense of depth. Keeping certain instruments 'close' (dry) and others 'far' (wet), creates an illusion of space between them. Too much or the wrong type of reverb or delay will quickly make a mix sound amateurish. When used well, they can be beautiful and moving. You can use short and minimal reverbs for an intimate sound, or big ones for a dreamy or stadium effect. Reverbs and delays are sometimes used to soften particular tracks that otherwise sound harsh and dry, and other times to glue instruments together and make them sound like they were recorded in the same room when they were not. Some popular uses for delay include slap delays (think Elvis or John Lennon vocals) or echo repeats synched to the song rhythm (as you can hear in many pop productions). These echoes can be made to sound washy or well defined.
Editing is usually done in preparation for a mix. Choosing the best takes, muting sections of tracks to make space. Vocal tuning is also usually done before the mixing engineer can get to work. Mixing engineers usually prefer to work on songs that have already been edited and tuned. Some artists and producers edit and tune the tracks themselves before sending to a mixer, while others prefer to hire a specialized vocal comping (editing) expert, or a vocal tuner.
Mixing is about skill, taste and knowing to serve the song. The same song can be mixed in many different ways. Mixing entails many creative decisions and skilled 'moves' and when done well it can truly make a song shine and be interesting.
Choosing the right Mixing Engineer
There are many mixing engineers out there with varying styles, experience, expertise and levels of customer service. Here are questions to ask and things to look for that will help you make a decision about whether a mixing engineer is the right partner for you.
There is nothing more helpful to understanding an engineer's style and skill than listening to previous songs they've mixed. A sound sample can speak a thousand words and you should trust your ears. One thing to keep in mind is the tracks they worked on might be different than yours in style or recording quality of the source material. It's fair to ask an engineer if you can expect similar results after you discuss price and send them a rough mix or your tracks. At that point they should have enough information to tell you if you can expect your mix to be in the ballpark of the samples in their reel.
Every engineer has a different mixing style, and that's natural. This is no different than musicians who are more connected with and (have more experience in) a particular genre. A mixing engineer's style will often depend on what music they like, what they work on most often and their abilities. 'Getting' the nuances of any genre is key to nailing that sound. There are engineers who are eclectic and work on a wide range of genres. Still, finding a specialist is sometimes helpful. Listen to an engineer's reel to get an idea of what their style is. If an engineer really connects with your genre of music, that will make a difference. Mixing engineers are geeks and if for example they like EDM and work on a lot of EDM, they will already know how to get that pumping sound you might be looking for and won't have to start experimenting. The approach for EQing a kick drum or bass for a Jazz track is totally different than for a Rock song. If you don't hear a track in your genre in the mixer's reel you can always ask if they have one that wasn't included.
This one is obvious. Mixing engineers work with a wide range of budgets, like everything else in life. Don't approach a Grammy winning engineer if your budget is $300 per song (hint – the top ones charge thousands per song). In the same vein, don't expect your mix to sound just like Katy Perry's if you recorded the song in your bedroom and have $200 per song for your mixing engineer. There are young passionate engineers who will work all night for you for $200 and might get you a significantly better result than what you can get yourself. Be realistic about what you're willing to spend and what you're expecting in return. In general rates for mixing start at $200/song and go up to several thousands per song. You start having access to very experienced engineers at around $400 per song. Tip - Some engineers will cut you a deal on the per song rate if you pay for multiple songs in advance. Some of the things that determine an engineer's going rate are their years in the business, their credits, their reviews, their skill, their gear,their availability, and their excitement about working on your music.
Some mix engineers want payment upfront, some half upfront and half on delivery and others are willing to receive full payment on delivery and only when you are happy as long as you fund the job to SoundBetter (so they know you won't just disappear). You can choose what you feel more comfortable with. If you really want to work with someone but you don't feel comfortable with their payment term, you can ask them to change it and they might agree. Be fair and sensitive to the engineer's time spent on your music. It’s rarely a home-run on the first pass even with the best mixers. They rely on your feedback and direction, so be patient and communicative.
Credits and Reviews
Engineers rely on their credits and reviews to speak to their skill. If you've heard songs they've mixed on the radio you know the level of skill you can expect from them. By reading what other clients have to say about working with them, you'll get an idea of whether they delivered on the clients' expectations. All musicians are emotionally attached to their music. If many musicians gave a mixing engineer a great review, you know that not only did the engineer deliver on their expectations, but they likely also gave good customer service. Finding an engineer that will take the time to realize your vision is important. An engineer might have skill, but if they aren't open to accommodating your feedback you run the risk of having an unpleasant experience or not getting a mix you are happy with. You can read reviews for engineers on SoundBetter. Verified reviews are ones whose authenticity we can vouch for. By hiring someone through a platform like SoundBetter you have some extra leverage because you will give the engineer a review at the end of the project, and they know that. This helps ensure they go the extra mile to make you happy.
The gear an engineer uses is less important than the other things above. There are awesome sounding radio mixes that were done all 'in the box' (i.e. mixed in the computer as opposed to on an analogue mixing console). A great mixer can do wonders on a laptop and a mediocre or wrong mixer for the genre can butcher a song on an analog console. Don't believe the hype. Nonetheless, it's worth looking at where an engineer works and what gear they use. It's just one additional factor in understanding how serious they are about their trade. Are they in an acoustically un-treated bedroom with a laptop and mediocre speakers, or are they going to mix your music on a professional console in an acoustically treated control room? Most engineers these days fall somewhere in the middle on that spectrum. We wouldn't make gear the deciding factor, but it’s worth looking at.
Working with a Mixing Engineer (or Help them help you)
Giving good directions
Since there's a creative element to mixing, it's important to be on the same page as your mixing engineer. When making creative decisions a mixing engineer will feed off of your production approach, rough mix and direction. This doesn't mean your rough mix needs to be great, but it means it should give a general directive of the balance, panning and style you're hearing. If you envision the piano being upfront, almost on par with the vocals for example, your rough mix is a good way to let the engineer know that. Another very helpful thing is including notes. Example of track-specific notes might be 'I'd like the kick to be huge and heavy' or 'I'd like the snare to drive the song and have a whap (or alternatively a 'thud') or 'I'd like the vocals to be dirty, maybe even a bit distorted', or 'let's go with aggressive sound on the drums, like The Killers', 'I want the synth to be soft in the verses and loud in the C-part' or 'lets keep it very organic and dynamic' or 'the strings should feel in the background except for the ending' or 'I like a lot of delay or reverb on my vocals like U2', or 'The background vocal should be way lower than the main vocal'. Insider Lingo – sonic adjectives used often are 'clarity', 'warmth', 'urgency', 'tight', 'wet' (which often translates to a lot of reverb), 'wide', 'dirty', 'clean'.
If you are asking for a particular instrument to be loud, remember that the 'loudness' of an instrument in a mix is only relative to the level of other instruments. There's no such thing as an instrument being loud in a vacuum. After all, the end-listener controls the overall volume knob. There is only 'louder than something else in the mix', tricking our mind to feel it as loud. So avoid asking for all the tracks to be loud. You (or the producer) need to choose 2-3 elements you want to feel 'louder' than others in the mix and convey that to the engineer. It's important to choose what takes center stage. If everyone takes center stage, no instrument gets the spotlight and you get a bad mix. Keep in mind the price of overall loudness is less dynamics - certain sections feeling louder than others, which drives emotion. Older recordings like Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' for example are not loud overall, but are very dynamic – song climaxes are actually louder than the softer parts.
Many clients also include reference tracks. These are very helpful for mixers and producers to know what style you are aiming for. No need to figure out how to professionally describe that drum sound if you can just send the engineer several tracks and explain what you like about them. It's very important in this case to be reasonable in your expectations. If your arrangement and production is very different from the reference mix, it will be hard to take away what the similarities should be. Also, if the reference song you sent has a high quality production, with great instrumentation or samples, awesome performance recorded in a great space and your song was recorded in a weekend with less than stellar performers or gear, don't expect the mix to make-up for that. What you put in will be very close to what you get out.
Preparing a song for a mix engineer
Preparing a song for a mixing engineer is well worth your time. If you don't do this work, they will have to do it, and wouldn't you rather they spend their time mixing rather than prepping or problem fixing? You want them to be inspired when they are mixing your music, not frustrated or tired from cleaning up or making sense of your session. Most engineers want clearly labeled 'stripes', which are consolidated audio files all starting at zero that are already edited and tuned. They can import these stripes to whatever DAW they are working on and not have to worry about DAW compatibility, edits going out of sync, hidden files referenced in your session that take space but aren't being used, or having the same virtual instruments or plugins you used loading on their machine.
Getting your songs ready for mixing is actually quite easy.
- First make sure you like your performance in all the tracks.
- Fix any timing issues (very important), edit and pick the best parts for every track (or pay a professional vocal editor to do it for you), cut and mute the parts that need muting to make room in the song and keep it dynamic (rather than everything playing all the time).
- Now carefully review every single track in solo and make sure the fades are clean and there are no clicks, pops or distortion. These are things that will make things very difficult for the engineer.
- Make sure your vocals are tuned to your liking, or hire a professional vocal tuner to correct any pitch issues for you.
- Next, create audio files from your virtual instrument tracks. In some DAWs you can do this with one 'freeze' or 'consolidate' command. If you don't have this option, you can bus each of your virtual instrument tracks to another audio track and record the whole pass. The goal is to give the engineer audio files that don't rely on them having a particular plugin or virtual instrument.
- Now that all your tracks are audio files, remove plugins from all the tracks, unless they play a super important role in that track's sound and you are ready to commit to that sound.
- Make sure none of the tracks are peaking (hitting the red). If they are for any more than a split second once or twice, pull back their level.
- Finally, export or bounce all your tracks individually as audio from session start (or all from exactly the same point) at the same file format, bit rate and sample rate as your session. For example if you recorded .wav files at 24/48, you should export all the tracks as .wav files 24/48. Mono tracks should be exported mono, stereo tracks as stereo. Make sure all the tracks are clearly named and labeled. Depending on your DAW, track labels might carry through to the exported/bounced audio tracks.
That's all there is to it. Zip those babies up and send them to your mixing engineer.
As you can tell, mixing is part technical and part creative. Engineers spend part of their time problem fixing, and part of their time making a song more sonically interesting and fitting to the genre and intent of the producer.
Remember it's key to have a good song, good arrangement, good performance and good recording before getting your song mixed. Mixing is just one step in the process. It can help make a great recording shine, but it can't compensate if any of the other foundations are missing.
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