Creativity and constant practice is the best hack for mixing rock music perfectly. Unfortunately, that task is no ordinary one, especially for beginners. You’ll need to follow every step like a professional to achieve fine work.
First, you’ll have to identify crucial frequencies that require changing. For instance, focus on the mid frequencies since they have primary elements of rock songs such as guitar, snares, and vocals.
Here are some tricks and tips on how to mix a rock song.
Allow Bass Domination in the Lower Frequencies
If you’ve tried mixing any songs, you already know of the battle over what aspect of the song should dominate the lower end. This is primarily just a challenge between what to make 100 Hz and 60 Hz. So, to solve the dilemma, let the bass be 100 Hz and give the 60 Hz range to other parts of the song.
The sounds mix more appropriately in rock music when the bass dominates the lower end. This style is different from mixing in other music genres in which the kicks are the core element. Some classic rock mixes use kick drums to add attack to the bass guitar, but the bass is the dominant feature of the song.
If you need to set up the kick drum to sustain through the bass line, try this trick:
- Use different release times until you get the best kick sound and adequate bass space.
- Use various EQing for various tempos, boost the frequency to 40-50 Hz on slow rock songs, 55-70 Hz on a medium-tempo song, and 80-110 Hz on a fast-tempo one.
Utilize Analog Distortion
Mixing for beginners can be highly challenging if you don’t understand analog distortion. However, most artists who have had their classic rock songs remixed end up with mixes that use these techniques, which is why they remain top hits.
Analog distortion play essential roles in the following aspects of a classic rock mix:
- Creating warmth and color
- Adding some character to the voice
- Bringing the guitar forward
- Emphasizing and enlarging the drums
- Brightening elements
Once you use this technique in mixing rock drums, you’ll have added distinction and uniqueness to your rock song, which will easily become a hit.
One of the best ways to achieve this distortion is by using an analog console to add color to the sound and for hybrid mixing.
You can also use analog gear to glue the mix since it gently clips the peaks and adds a warm saturation. The soft clipping also adds an analog charm to some sounds while making them louder. The close mics on the drums can also become brighter and require less headroom.
In addition, the guitars can also sound saturated, and the vocal tracks become better glued together. However, you can’t use analog distortion on poor recordings since it can only beautify high-quality rock mixes.
Start With the Overheads When Mixing the Drums
If you don’t know how to mix rock drums, starting with the overhead is the best way to mix them. Some begin with the kick heading to the overheads, but it doesn’t work perfectly for modern rock, as you can easily end up with many dead sounds.
To start mixing rock, begin from the overheads and head to the room mics. Once they sound perfect, go to the spot mics. Then, move to the snare, then go to the bass and kick simultaneously. Finally, finish with the toms.
Utilize Parallel Processing
Some mixers think rock songs need heavy compressions because of how loud, huge, and intense the sound is. If you think the same way, shift your focus to making your music dynamic. When you heavily compress the instruments, you’ll get a dull sound instead of an expressive one.
Parallel processing layers copies of the same track to create a fuller sound. Dynamics make guitars more lively, not to mention the snares and hats that jump to you with every beat. In addition, you’ll still achieve a loud and intense sound, so it maintains the signatory requirements of a rock hit song.
Since technology improves performances, why shouldn’t you use automation in mixing rock music? After all, it is difficult to achieve a good rock composition without automation.
Automation plays a crucial role in opening the chorus through vocal enlargement and emphasizing the guitar parts by adding dynamics. It makes the music lively and moving by enhancing its emotional aspects. It is why mixing rock music is a genre that continues to evolve.
Understand That Rock Music Doesn’t Need Perfection
When mixing other music genres, it is okay to make it perfect with sound enhancement techniques like auto tunes. But mixing rock music doesn’t need that; it is more about the performance.
Rock composers write songs to perform live, and people enjoy the art of performance displayed by the singers. In mixing rock, all you need is a quality recording for your song to be professional. This can also help you learn how to mix faster, as you don’t need to spend time meticulously arranging instruments and vocals for the song to be great.
For instance, rock bands stay for months in studios recording and practicing a single album because the singer needs to master the distinction in the vocals to make the best music. They can perform complicated songs without further digital editing, so most of their studio time is spent in practice.
So, if you want to become a professional rock music mixer, focus on empowering and enhancing the natural recording of the song. Provided the recording is high-quality, don’t add or remove anything that would harm the original vocals.
Make the Solo Guitar the Lead Vocal
Lead vocals and solo guitars work hand in hand in rock songs. However, they interchange in the lead position during performances. So, as a mixer, you have to treat them equally. For instance, if the guitar gets wet, the vocal should also be wet.
When mixing rock music, try mixing the solo guitar with the same plugins used for the vocal. Then, compress them the same way and create similar reverbs for them.
If you need to master how to mix rock songs, the best way is to use tracks from the best rock artists. Whoever you choose should be effective enough to reproduce a perfect sound, even when the recording is complicated. In addition, they should help you build emotions and energy in the sound.
You can also differentiate your second and first verses to create uniqueness. Since ordinary rock songs often make the second verse a carbon copy of the first one, differentiating it will help make your mix unique and memorable.