These 5 courses have been the foundation of the Mixing With Mike program helping thousands to vastly improve their mixing and mastering skills. Each course provides theory, demonstrations and practical application you can follow along with regardless of DAW.
The Basic Mixing Course is beginner to intermediate level course designed to teach you a step-by-step mixing process that will work with any style of music. These are the same techniques used by professionals for decades. Each step of the process is explained and demonstrated. You will have access to the very same multitrack used in the class demonstrations.
In this class, you will learn the basic concepts of mixing and gain a fresh perspective on how to listen to music and what to listen for. You will also learn how to get the most from your studio and monitoring system. This is essential information before starting to mix.
This class will focus on the very basics of session organization and preparing the mix signal flow. You will learn the 3 Tier Mixing System that provides the most powerful and flexible way to maximize the sound quality of your mix. Once this structure is in place you will begin mixing with Levels, Panning and learn how to assess the quality of the sounds and develop a strategy for processing.
Equalization is the first stage in the processing chain. Most of the early equalization is focussed on removing what you do not want or what is not necessary. Then you will learn how to apply some basic tonal shaping techniques that will provide focus without harshness to your mix.
Understanding dynamics processing is essential to making great mixes. The compressor is perhaps the most powerful tool available to the mix engineer. When used correctly it can add focus, depth and punch to a sound. When improperly used, it can render a sound lifeless, weak and thin. The following lessons uncover the true hidden power of dynamics processing and how to use them to make you mixes dynamic and alive sounding.
The use of reverb, delays and modulation effects help to create separation, width, depth and size in a mix. When the parameters of the effects are understood, the ability to apply them liberally is easy. When the role of effects processing is not understood it can create a big sloppy mess. These lessons focus on practical effects processing techniques.
Once the basic stages of processing are done and your sounds are more or less in place, you will begin the process of shaping the mix to make it come to life. This stage is where the song and production comes into focus. It’s not good enough to have just great individual sounds, they must work together in the production to bring the song to life. In this stage you will need to revisit your processing and apply additional processing where necessary.
Now that the song and production sounds and feels great, it’s time to weave all of the instrumentation together with automation. Although automation may be applied at any stage of the mixing process, it is this point in the mix where subtle changes to levels and the automation of effects help to guide the listener throughout the whole song, carrying their interest through every bar and beat.
The final stage of the mixing process involves the polishing of your entire mix. This starts with the mix stem processing where you have the ability to process groupings of instruments, like drums, keys, guitars, vocals, etc… Processing at the mix buss will help to pull the whole mix together to make it sound like a “record”. This is where the 3 Tier Mix System comes to life. The following lessons will teach effective buss processing methods and explain why this critical stage is left for last.
The Advanced Mixing Course expands upon the lessons learned in the Basic Mixing Course by adding advanced mixing techniques to the same process. The information learned here will provide the necessary skills to wield control of every step of the mixing process. The Basic Mixing Course is not a prerequisite for this course.
This is the most essential part of this mixing course because all of the other classes will be built off of the information provided here. It is absolutely necessary to teach you how to listen to music and what to listen for.
This class starts with a step by step guide through the entire process and then begins the process of mixing. There are many hidden secrets in this stage of the mixing process that build the foundation for everything else you do.
This is an in depth look at EQ and how it is best applied in a mix. Equalization is an incredibly powerful tool for shaping and refining your mix. It is also the most grossly overused tool. This class will dispel the many myths surrounding EQ and it’s practical application in the mixing process.
Dynamics processing is absolutely the most misunderstood and misused form of processing by novices and professionals alike. It is also the most powerful form of processing when used correctly. This week will explain, in extreme detail, the what, why, when and how of dynamics processing.
This class will focus on the practical application of dynamics processing including the use of advanced dynamic processing techniques. You will learn how to truly harness the power of compression to solidify the imaging and depth of your mix.
This is an in-depth look at effects processing and how it should be applied in the mixing process. Each form of processor is discussed in detail and how it effects the 3D soundstage.
This class will discuss the importance of automation and the concept of focussing the listener’s attention. This is the stage where the song comes together ‘musically’ and is the critical stage for turning your ‘mix’ into a ‘record’.
This is the integration stage for all the other techniques that have been applied in the previous lessons. In this class, you will learn how to finalize all of the individual processing techniques into a finished mix. This will dramatically change your perspective of mixing and is where the power of the 3 Tiered Mixing System comes into full effect.
The Master Mixing Course is specifically designed to hone the skills acquired from the Basic and Advanced Mixing Courses. The lessons learned in this course will define the master mix engineer’s mental and technical approach to the most common problems encountered in the mixing process on an instrument by instrument basis.
What separates a master mix engineer from the rest is not secret information, expensive gear or loads of plugins. It is their mastery of the basic principles of mixing. It is also important to understand the approach different genres of music. This is much more than just ‘liking’ a style of music, it is about understanding the engineering principles and approach that creates that sound
Historically, engineers have always been defined by their ability to get great drum sounds. This measure was created due to the many challenges of getting great sounds with acoustically recorded drums. These lessons will teach you the essential elements for getting great acoustic drum sounds.
Programmed Drums have the advantage of isolated sounds, but also offer many challenges that are not obviously apparent. These lessons will teach you how to work with programmed drums and also cover mixing acoustic percussion.
The foundation of a rhythm section is defined by the way bass and guitar sounds are blended in with the drums. Guitar and Bass may actually be the most difficult of instruments to mix effectively because of the complexity and range of frequencies they occupy. These lessons will cover the broad spectrum of challenges that come with getting great sounds for guitars and basses.
Keyboard Instruments cover an extraordinarily wide range of sounds, tonal colorations and frequencies. This means that they serve many different roles in a mix from occupying the basic rhythm section, to groove generating melodic rhythms, to atmospheric pads and all the way up to solo or lead instruments.
Orchestral Instruments are widely used in almost all styles of music. The wide range of sounds and rich history offer many challenges to the mix engineer’s ability to clearly define each instruments unique character and sound.
There are many instruments that fall between the cracks of most songs. But their unique nature and sound require special treatment in order to preserve their authenticity and character in a mix.
No single instrument is featured more in music than the lead vocal. Because the human ear is more sensitive to the human voice than any other instrument, mixing vocals requires extra special attention.
Mixing background and group vocals also offers many challenges in the mixing process. Panning, balancing harmonies, correcting timing and pitch issues are just a few.
The final lessons in the Master Mixing Course are designed to focus your approach on the fundamental elements that make a mix into a finished record. Without these basic elements any mix, no matter how good the sounds, will never come to life.
The Basic Mastering Course is a practical guide to mastering in the modern home studio environment. You will learn the skills necessary to master your own mixes and productions, or the work of other producers and artists. This course will teach you mastering specific equalization, compression and spatial imaging techniques as well as maximizing and exporting the final masters for streaming, downloads and CD.
This is an introduction to the art of Mastering, defining what it is and explaining its role in the music production process.
What is Mastering
The Evolution of Mastering
A History of Loudness
The Mastering Process, Step by Step
There are many forms of Mastering Software. Some are focussed purely on processing audio and others offer advanced editing features and the ability to create CD Masters.
Basic Mastering Plugins
Advanced Mastering Plugins
CD Mastering Software
These lessons focus on the application of Equalization in the Mastering Process
Frequencies and the 3D Sound Field
Working With Filters in Mastering
Additive Equalization In Mastering
Mastering EQ in the Processing Chain
These lessons focus on Compression and Limiting Techniques in the Mastering Process.
Mastering and Frequency Density
Mastering Compression Techniques
Mastering Limiter Techniques
Mastering With MultiBand Compressors
Mastering With MultiBand Limiters
Size is about much more than just frequencies and compression, it’s also about depth and focused imaging. These lessons uncover valuable depth and imaging techniques to squeeze out all the size you can get from a mix.
The 3D Sound-Field
Stereo vs. M/S Processing
Early Reflections and Reverb
Exciters and Imaging Plugins
Love it or Hate it Loudness is a inescapable part of the modern music production environment. This is about more than just making your mix louder than the next guy’s mix, it is about adapting your mixes to the many ways people listen to music and the environments they listen in.
Meters and Metering Techniques
Perceived Loudness vs. Levels
Compression Techniques for Loudness
Peak Limiters and Loudness
Loudness and Dynamic Range
The process of mastering for CD involves a number of additional steps and considerations to get the best results from the manufacturing process.
Song Order, Spacing and Levels
CD Subcodes and CD Text
DDP and CDR Production Masters
Glass Masters and the Manufacturing Process
After all the processing and preparation work is done, the final master must be exported and converted to the necessary formats for distribution. These lessons discuss.
Understanding Bit Depth and Dithering
Exporting the CD and DDP Masters
Exporting Individual Masters
Format Conversion in Mastering
The Advanced Mastering Course is a professional level guide to mastering in the modern home studio environment. Building on the skills learned in the Basic Mastering Course, you will learn advanced mastering techniques using mastering grade plugins. Mastering demonstrations are part of every lesson with specific techniques for different styles of music.
This class sets the foundational principles of the art of mastering. It establishes the criteria that defines a great mastering job. The following lessons define the approach, tools and setup necessary to achieve those results.
The most important step in creating a great master is to start with a comprehensive listening and evaluation of the mix. From this evaluation, an effective approach can be determined and implemented.
Equalization plays a vital role in the perceived height and separation of instruments in a mix. The role of Equalization in mastering is to help enhance the work of the mix engineer as is appropriate to the production style and instructions of the client. This class focusses on fundamental mastering equalization techniques and the use of transparent equalizers.
This class picks up from Part 1 and brings mastering equalization into the modern era of Class A components and the benefits of modern DAW based processing. It also brings back the traditional Mid-Side approach to processing masters as well as some modern tilt EQ and dynamic equalization techniques.
Compression is one of the most powerful tools the mastering engineer has to solidify the imaging density of a mix. It can breathe life into a dead mix or transparently increase the perceived level without crushing the transient peaks. Each type of compressor offers different advantages for particular tasks in a mastering. This class begins that journey.
This class picks up from Part 1 and brings in the power of VCA compression and emulations of some modern Class A compressors including the Vertigo VSC-2, Shadow Hills mastering Compressor, Brainworx V3 and the Elysia Alpha Compressor. The class will also feature Mid-Side Compression Techniques and using Tape emulations for compression.
The modern DAW era has given rise to the power of dynamics processing that in the analog realm was at best theoretical. The ability to apply compression on a multi band level is not exclusive to the digital realm, but the control and precision of in-the-box processing is unparalleled. Working with MultiBand Dynamics is not without its challenges and a deeper understanding of the role of different frequency ranges and how to weave them together is essential to using tool correctly.
The real art of mastering is freeing the song from the speakers they are playing through. A high quality mix escapes the speakers and images solidly as if it were sharing the same space with you. When this happens, the music sounds dynamic, alive and present. If the final mix production lacks this depth and vibrancy, it is sometimes necessary to bring in tools that will bring in depth, openness and presence without unnecessary hype or excessive processing.
Maximizing the loudness of a master is so much more than slamming a brick wall limiter on the end of your processing chain. It is more about the cumulative gain structuring approach through each level of processing so that the final stages of maximizing the final master are transparent and free of distortion.
Rock music is a very broad category including everything from Popular radio to Death Metal records. The approach to mastering such titles varies greatly depending on the meaning of the song within the specific production. Reference masters are a great source for determining the best approach to processing. The mastering examples in this class will detail the thinking process and approach to each style.
This class features the mastering of R&B, Hip Hop, EDM and House/Club records. The mastering examples will focus largely on preserving (or creating) a rich, deep and powerful low end that is their signature sound. The imaging quality of the low frequencies is critical to the final masters translating form system to system.
Acoustic, Jazz and Orchestral records offer different challenges to the mastering engineer. Because the dynamic range of performances in these styles are more clearly exposed than in most modern pop music, careful attention must be paid to preserve the integrity of the performance dynamic. This class features mastering examples of Acoustic, Jazz and Orchestral records and how to adapt the processing to preserve the natural dynamics and deliver a professional quality commercial release.
Love it or hate it, iTunes is the modern audio playback standard for digitally released music. Mastered for iTunes is a high resolution AAC encoding process created by Apple and released in 2012. The purpose of this new format was to significantly increase the audio fidelity of the AAC iTunes format. Understanding how to master your audio for iTunes and the MFiT format is the focus of this Bonus Class.