Version française

? | Home page | Tutorial | Mixing in practice

Home page


After seeing the theoretical notions here, let's put them in practice. How can we make our recorded instruments clearly distinct from one another, what frequencies should we boost or cut, where should we place the instruments, etc.

We are going to study the complete mixing of a song I wrote: Life.
Instrument after instrument, we will see what plugins and virtual instruments were used and how, and we will proceed until the ultimate mastering stage. Of course, this is my way of doing things, this is not a recipe that everyone should apply in all circumstances, but that's an example that can be used as a solid base, in order to know what amateurs can do when there's no outside help.

Top of page

Concrete exemple with a song of mine: LIFE

I made this song entirely in my home studio. And my home studio is only vaguely related to professional recording studios. It's just a room in the appartment, it isn't soundproof and my neighbors don't appreciate tube amps played in the evening. So I plugged my guitars directly into my audio interface (through a preamp) and used amplifier simulations for the guitars and the bass, an acoustic drums software instead of a real drum set, as well as software synthesizers. The only thing that produced some noise during the recordings was my voice. But that's a rather quiet song, vocally speaking.

Of course, before mixing it, the song doesn't sound like much, as you can hear below.
We are going to go from here...

No effects whatsoever are used in this version. The takes are raw, superimposed one onto another, the sound is monophonic (everything's centered) and the guitars are thinner than a fashion model... As for the drums, they sound really flat. To sum up, it lacks everything that could make it sound good. It's even hard to imagine that it will sound good.

Life sans effets
Here is the waveform of the song before mixing.

As we'll see in this tutorial, we are going to have to use some tools to make Life come to life (!). there:

This is the finished song. As you can hear and see in the graphics, the difference is huge.

Life complète
This is the waveform of the finished song
This song is called Life, I wrote it and recorded it in my home studio in October 2011, and made some modifications in the course of the year 2012.
Mixing in practice : Preparing the session | Bass | Drums | Rhythm guitars | Solo guitars | Keyboards | Vocals | Mastering
Top of page


(Leave a message)

Message page # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

01/18/2020, 18h08

Whatever happened to the Cranked AC plugin? I've been looking all over for it but can't find it anywhere.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sorry, I never heard of this plugin. If it's an old plugin, chances are it's also a 32-bit plugin, which may not work properly on modern systems, but anyway I couldn't find it either.

01/12/2020, 23h06

So the chain goes:

DAW > Audio Interface Out > Amp > Speaker > Mic > DAW

This is correct based on my understanding from what I've read, and the few videos I've watch on creating IRs. My question, then, is when I plug into the Amp I've seen people say plug your Interface out into the FX return, but you say the guitar cable jack. What is the purpose in doing one or the other?

Side questions:

What channel should my amp be on? I'm assuming the clean channel.

What should my Amp settings be (EQ, Gain, Channel Volume, Presence, Master Volume)? I can't find a clear answer anywhere.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


About plugging into the FX return or the guitar jack, I don’t know. Actually, the amps I’ve used myself to make IRs don’t have any FX return, so I didn’t have a choice and had to plug into the guitar jack. I guess there’s no harm trying both (not at the same time!) and comparing if you have that possibility. Chances are there’s not much of a difference, but again, I may be wrong as I have not tried this myself.
About the choice of a channel, and the settings: the channel doesn’t actually matter. You’re not capturing the amp sound, but the speaker sound.
From what I’ve experienced, the EQ and Presence should be neutral, the gain/saturation should not be engaged (or set to a level where no distorsion can be heard). As for the volume, set it to a level that’s high enough for your microphone to be able to pick up a good signal (no need to record higher than -6 dB, by the way, give your signal a bit of headroom).
But you should also be careful not to set it too loud to protect your own ears. It doesn’t need to be pushed too high. I think a level high enough to cover your own conversational voice should be enough. I tried various volume levels, and it did not affect the results notably. I did not get better results with very high levels than with normal, humanely bearable levels. Don’t set it too low, though, because it’s better if your speaker does move some air.

Experiment, try different amp settings and see whether that changes the results.


10/20/2019, 17h06

Hey, I downloaded the plug-in and extracted it. Then put it in the plugin folder but it is not working. C:|Program Files|Common Files|Avid|Audio|Plug-Ins. Would this be the right steps? Please let me know thanks!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As you explained it to me by e-mail, you were using Pro Tools First, which doesn't support third party plugins. The solution is then to either upgrade to a paid version of Pro Tools, or use another free DAW, such as Cakewalk by Bandlab (Windows only), or use Reaper, which is not free, but can be used freely without constraints. These DAWs do support third party plugins.


08/26/2019, 11h06

Tout d'abord bravo pour ce site.
Je suis débutant et rencontre quelques soucis.
J'ai un PC Windows 10 (64 bits, 8 Go de RAM) avec carte son intégrée en 5.1, driver realteck, et quand je lance un programme de simu type Amplitube 4, il y a un son horrible qui sort, est-ce normal ? Y a-t-il un moyen d'y remédier ?
J'ai essayé également avec Bandlab comme séquenceur mais je ne sais pas comment intégrer le cab et le simulateur.
Merci d'avance

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bonjour Dam40,
Le son horrible qui sort avec un logiciel de simulation n’est pas « normal », mais c’est peut-être dû au fait que vous utilisez la carte son intégrée de votre ordinateur. Ce type de carte n’est pas du tout adapté pour enregistrer et mixer de la musique.
Pour enregistrer de la guitare par exemple, il faut passer par la prise Jack de la guitare et les cartes son intégrées ne possèdent pas ce type de fiche. D’autre part, les drivers des cartes intégrées ne possèdent pas non plus l’impédance électrique compatible pour avoir un niveau de son correct en provenance de l’instrument, et d’autre part, même quand ça marche, elles induisent une latence, c’est-à-dire un délai entre le moment où l’on joue sur la guitare et le moment où le son est entendu sur l’ordinateur.

Pour remédier à ce problème, il faut acquérir une interface audio, un type de carte audio qui se présente sous la forme d’un boîtier externe connecté à l’ordinateur par la prise USB (le plus souvent, même s’il existe d’autres types de connexions). Ces interfaces sont fournies avec un driver spécifique qui permet de gérer le son grâce au protocole ASIO. Ce protocole est standard et permet d’obtenir de faibles latences pour pouvoir jouer de la guitare et entendre le son, avec ou sans effets, sans délai gênant.


08/16/2019, 04h18

Bonjour !

J'ai testé la quasi-totalité des simulateurs présents ici pour une raison : impossible d'ouvrir un fichier DLL !
Mon PC me demande d'associer l'ouverture des DLL à un logiciel mais je n'ai rien de spécial qui va avec...

J'ai eu ce souci, j'avais formaté mon PC vu que je ne l'avais pas fait depuis des années (1,65 To de données à re-télécharger)
Et là encore le même souci, je teste donc sur 6 PC différents et tous ont ce souci... Je suppose donc qu'il faut un logiciel spécial mais rien n'est mentionné, tu pourrais m'aider ? Merci d'avance !

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bonjour Blastrax,
Tous les simulateurs d’ampli gratuits sous forme de fichiers DLL sont des « plugins », et non pas des logiciels autonomes.
Je l’explique ici.

Ces fichiers de plugins ne s’installent pas, il faut simplement les recopier dans un répertoire du disque dur. À noter aussi que les simulateurs d’ampli gratuits ne simulent que la tête d’un ampli. Pour avoir également une simulation du haut-parleur, un autre plugin qu’on appelle « chargeur d’impulsions », dans laquelle on charge des « réponses impulsionnelles », ou IR (impulse responses, en anglais). Les IR sont des petits fichiers audio qui reproduisent le son d’un vrai haut-parleur. On peut trouver des IR reproduisant le son des amplis Fender, Vox, Marshall, Orange, Mesa Boogie, etc. Il en existe des gratuites et des payantes.


Top of page