1.Put the mixer into neutral (EQ flat, aux sends down, routing to Left/Right only and so on), before you start work and pull down the faders on any channels not in use. Make sure all unused aux sends are set to zero and that unused mixer channels are unrouted as well as muted, as this will further reduce the level of background noise. If you don’t do this, you may find effects on tracks that don’t need effects, or unwanted tracks creeping into a bounce due to a routing button being left down. You should also have a track sheet for your recording from which you can label the mixer channels. The time-honoured way to do this is to use masking tape and felt pen, so that you can peel the whole lot off when the job is finished.
2. Optimise the gain settings not only for the multitrack returns, but also for all effects sends and returns and for your external effect units. Also ensure that your master recorder is being driven as hard as possible, without overloading on signal peaks. These simple measures can significantly improve the clarity of your mix. If your recording is going to be digitally edited, leave any fade-outs until the edit stage, and don’t try to chop off the noise that precedes or follows the mix — you may need this when setting up a digital denoiser that requires a bare noise ‘fingerprint’ for calibration purposes.
3. Subgroup logical sections of your mix, such as the drum kit or the backing vocals, so that you can control the overall level of the subgrouped elements from a single fader or stereo pair of faders. This allows you to control the mix using fewer faders, and fewer fingers! Be aware that any channels subgrouped this way must also have their effects routed to the same groups(s), otherwise the effects level won’t change as you adjust the group fader.
4. Where level adjustments need to be made, mark the fader settings with a chinagraph wax pencil and, if necessary, take note of the tape counter or timecode locations at which the level changes occur. This way you can solicit help from other musicians in the studio if the mix gets too busy. If you’re lucky and are using mix automation, listen to the whole mix through without watching the levels, so that you can concentrate on the balance of the instruments.
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~ Salvador Dali