The DEHN mixing guidelines are designed to provide a systematic and effective approach to mixing music using an oldschool methodology. These steps focus on maintaining the natural groove, soul, and character of the music, while achieving a balanced and polished mix. The process is inspired by the analog studio days and is intended to create a cohesive mix that translates well to mastering.
Step 1: Recording the Band (Sound Design & Leveling)
- Setup and Gain Staging: Set up all instruments and sound sources, such as synths and amps. Ensure all faders are at 0 and EQ them on the instruments/amps.
- EQ Preparation: Apply EQ to shape the sound design and make any obvious choices before mixing. Focus on enhancing the desired tonal qualities of each sound.
- Sound Design in Ableton: Work on sound design without focusing on mixing. Adjust levels using the utility tool or gain staging on individual sound sources. Prioritize making the track groove and feel right. Avoid visualizing elements; rely on your ears.
- Imprint Groove: Utilize sidechaining and other techniques to enhance the groove and ensure the track sounds its best. Close your eyes to focus solely on the auditory experience.
- Freeze & Flatten: Once you’re satisfied with the sound design, freeze and flatten all tracks while disabling warp. This preserves your creative choices and prepares the track for the mixing stage.
Step 2: Mixing on a Clean Desk (Balancing & Polishing)
- Load Reference Track: Integrate a reference track that reflects the desired sonic qualities and overall balance you aim to achieve. Use this as a guide for your mix.
- Avoid Soloing: Resist the urge to solo individual tracks. The mix should be balanced in context, considering how each element interacts with others.
- Correct Obvious Mistakes: Address any obvious recording mistakes or imbalances by using subtle EQ adjustments. Employ shelves rather than extreme high-cut and low-cut filters to maintain the original vibe.
- Gentle EQ and Compression: Add slight EQ and compression to enhance the mix. Since the sound design was carefully prepared, these adjustments should be subtle and respectful of the existing character.
- Fader Adjustments: Utilize faders to add elements to the mix. Modern plugins often have autogain, which helps maintain balance. Adjust faders as needed to fit the overall mix.
- Mix Channel and Glue: Work on the mix channel to bring all elements together cohesively. Apply gentle compression or other glue techniques to ensure a unified sound.
Final Considerations and Best Practices:
- Avoid Over Sound Designing: Resisting the temptation to excessively alter the sound design during mixing. This can disrupt the creative flow and progress made during the sound design phase.
- Preserve Progress: Maintain a clear separation between the sound design and mixing stages to prevent undoing your work and losing the groove/soul of the track.
- Focus on Cohesion: The goal is to create a mix that feels cohesive and balanced. Use your reference track as a guide to achieve a professional and polished result.
- Trust Your Ears: Rely on your ears and intuition throughout the process. Prioritize the overall musical experience over technical perfection.
By following the DEHN mixing guidelines, you’ll be able to create a mix that captures the essence of the original sound design while achieving a professional and well-balanced result that translates effectively to mastering. Remember that this approach draws from DEHN’s experience and perspective, emphasising the preservation of creative and organic aspects in music production. Keep in mind that different engineers may have varying approaches, so feel free to adapt these guidelines to your own style and preferences.