Visual Aid on the art of mixing

These color visuals are representations of particular moments in the mix. In order to represent a true mixing process, they would be flashing on and off to the music. Therefore, some of the visuals may look busier than the mix really is.

Of course, every song has its own personality and is mixed based on that. Therefore, don't assume that there is only one way to mix any style of music. These visuals are only a reference point from which you can begin to study what is done in mixes for various types of music.

With all this in mind . . . enjoy.

Hip Hop Mix

Generally a pretty busy mix with an 808 boom loud and out front. Note the fattening on the bass and the doubling on each of the keys. Note the delay on the synth and hi-hat. Especially unique is the doubling of the hi-synth with another instrument. The super high strings are flanged for a subtle, spacey effect. The snare is not very loud in this particular mix.

hip-hop mix

Hip-Hop Mix Visual Aid

Blues Mix

Generally a pretty clean, clear, out front mix. Note the bass is quite loud overall, with the kick drum not far behind. The rhythm guitar, the sax, and especially the lead guitar are right out front. The vocal is set back in the mix a bit, but this is not always the case. The piano is set further back but is spread in complete stereo. The toms, hi-hat, and cymbals are all set back a bit, and the snare is a bit low, which is not necessarily typical of blues.

blues mix

Blues Mix Visual Aid

Rap Mix

The rap mix commonly has the 808 boom boom'n and a loud vocal (though this does vary). The key, guitar, and scratch'n are all spread in stereo with fattening. Note the extremely loud clap and hi-hat; the kick is also right out front. In this mix, the snare is back a little. Also cool is the delay on the synth panned next to it. Finally, note the shaker panned opposite the hi-hat.

rap mix

Rap Mix Visual Aid

Reggae Mix

These days, reggae mixes tend to have a huge bass with the kick not far behind and the vocal right out front. Note the clarity of the sax. Both the guitar and the skank'n key are spread in stereo so they overlap a large amount. The snare is set back a little but not always, and the hi-hat is right out front.

reggae mix

Reggae Mix Visual Aid

Heavy Metal Mix

A very full arrangement and mix. Note the clarity of the low end (kick and bass), even though it is an extremely busy mix. The hi-hat, the snare, and especially the lead guitar are right out front. Note the multiple guitar parts with a few panned in stereo. The reverb is present but not so loud that it muddies everything. There isn't much room left for effects unless there is a breakdown section in the song. The overall effect is a massive, powerful wall of sound.

heavy metal mix

Heavy Metal Mix Visual Aid

New Age Mix

This mix is extremely full with nothing too sharp or cutting (although often individual lead sounds are extremely strong). Note the fattening on the keys and strings, filling out the space. The stereo flanged synth is quite prominent here, and the bass is huge. The low end is kept nice and clean, and the high-frequency cymbals are placed above it all.

New Age mix

New Age Mix Visual Aid

Alternative Rock Mix

Quite full with lots of fattening and overlapping sounds. The lead guitar is spread in stereo with a rhythm guitar right behind it and another stereo guitar in the background. A nice, clean low end, even though the mix is full. The kick and bass are quite strong.

alternative rock mix

Alternative Rock Mix Visual Aid

Acoustic Jazz Mix

Note the incredible cleanliness and clarity of the overall mix. The bass is panned to the right and doesn't have much high end. The guitar is right out front with the piano and the hi-hat. The kick is quite loud, which is not typical.

Acoustic Jazz mix

Acoustic Jazz Mix Visual Aid

Folk Music Mix

This type of music is typically mixed very clean and clear. The vocal is extremely loud. Note the presence and complete left and right panning of the acoustic guitars. The snare is set back, and the bass guitar and kick are not too overwhelming.

folk mix

Folk Music Mix Visual Aid

This article is for illustrative purposes only. The full information is available at Dave Gibsons book `Art of Mixing: