DAW simply stands for Digital Audio Workstation. It is computer software that is specifically designed for the playback, editing and recording of digital audio files. The workstation also allows its users to mix and edit multiple audio tracks or sources at once on a musical timing grid. This allows users to see how the tracks line up over time. A DAW also eases the hassles of synchronising audio clips with each other based on a particular beat, meter and common tempo.
Other than being just another software program that runs on your desktops or laptops, DAWs are also the hardware. Your computer needs to run a particular software along with other special interfaces that route audio and other signals in and out of your computer. You can find DAWs in many professional recording studios or in home desktop-based studios. In fact, DAWs are still widely used today despite many technological improvements. Examples of a DAW include CakeWalk, Pro Tools and GarageBand.
No matter what DAW you choose to use, there are some core concepts you need to know and apply to create a better mix. This way, you can prevent yourself from getting tied down to a single DAW or mixing platform. Simply put, this articles aims to help you be able to mix anything that comes your way!
During the entire process of mixing down, you have to find one thing that is very important, and that is balance. Professionals in the industry note that it is truly the essence of a great mix. Pan and volume are the main components of balance. To lay the foundations of a great mix, you got to have a volume balance that is well thought out for each track as well as some viable panning decisions.
In every mix, there will be the involvement of some pan and volume automation to allow every moment of the song to work out. Generally, you should find the optimum pan and fader pot positions for the majority of a song. For starters, you can spend about ten minutes to even an hour to loop the song repeatedly as you adjust the faders and volume knobs until you can feel a connection with the vibe.
The next thing after settling on a solid balance is getting a hold of the EQ. EQ or equalisation is one of the most important plugin you need for mixing a song. A great EQ can easily bring out the sonic greatness that lies hidden within your tracks. If you are unfamiliar with the term EQ, think of it as a volume fader that is much smarter. Here’s the good news, every DAW is shipped with at least one EQ. It is important that you learn how to fully wield EQ. Not just for its technical prowess, but the entire concept behind it. Once you got that down, you can thrive with any EQ.
A mix that is well mixed and well balance sets up the grounds for some tasteful compression. Compression in the world of mixing is considered to one of the most powerful tools that can give your audio tracks more punch, power, fatness, smack, pop as well as a smoother overall performance. There several ways you can use the compressor, depending on the specific task at hand. You would typically want to use compression to tackle some downsides associated with EQ.
Depending on what type of attack settings you plan to use, you can get two totally different results with a single compressor – a compressor is simply a versatile tool to own! That is basically one of the awesome characteristics of compressors. Once you understand how to use a compressor properly, you will understand the rest that exist in the market. Up till now, if you can manage to work a compressor, an EQ and a volume fader, you are basically good to go and would be able to mix in any DAW.
Finally, there is one more mixing hack that we would like to share with our readers. In fact, it is the most life saving, useful and consistently result-driven technique around. It is mixing with a reference track. Referencing with a track is simply a habit of importing another track that is professionally mixed by someone else, and a track that you know sounds awesome and is also in the similar genre and uses the same instrumentation you are currently mixing.
The professional reference track acts as a benchmark of how your mix needs to sound like – in the DAW, in the room, on those speakers or headphones you are wearing. Reference tracks solve mysteries such as how a snare sound should like, how should the vocals sound or how low the kick drums must sound.
Now it is time to get comfortable with these core concepts that were explained earlier. You should understand them and use them all in your mixing sessions. If you are looking for a recording studio in Melbourne, talk to us today at The Band Booth.