Mixing/Mastering question

Hi, When mixing a piece you’ve finished, do you have a particular order for the plugins? I’m writing in Logic and have found using a little compression & reverb on the individual tracks helps improve the sound of the instruments and allows me to hear the bottom. For large pieces with more instruments send the plugins to a bus channel so I don’t freeze.
I’ve been trying to focus specifically on mixing for the last couple of months, not really that long, and was wondering how you shape the sound after the piece is written. Do you have a particular order for plugins? Which one do you assign to the stereo out channel?
I tried breaking down Jake Jackson & C. Henson’s orch template, but it’s too big for where I am right now. After taking a project I’m working on to an actual sound engineer I find I’m still leaving out a lot of the low end.
Can you recommend any tutorials on youtube? I’ve been through a bunch. Still lots to learn.

Thank you!

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Hi @Fran1,

as a mixing engineer myself, I always try to use a template as my starting point. 1. You get your results quicker. 2. You improve your productions, because you start to get routines. 3. Your productions won’t sound far apart, as you use the same plugins and techniques and you start to learn them well.

The best advice I can give to you is to make your mixing process as simple as possible. For example, you create “small busses” for your instrument groups, like all staccato strings, all synths, all guitars, etc. then you create “big busses” like all orchestra bus, percussion bus, bass bus, etc. the great thing is, you always have the control over your track at any stages! If you need to automate only your small percussion’s, now you can, you do it with only one bus. Otherwise you would need to automate maybe 10 tracks, which will can be chaotic. Depends on the situation.

You can create 3 different reverb-busses, delays, whatever you like and because it’s your own template you start to build your own “sound” and using the tools over and over again which make you feel more and more confident.

What I like to have in my template or at least at my pre-saved-presets the most used EQs, Compressor, etc. with only one click I can have the tool I need to start tweaking the sound. Saves you time, if I think back where I searched the plugins from the back then.

As far for plugins order: you need to find your own preference. My sub-groups have now: an EQ, a channel-strip, a saturation plugin, always a plugin with side-chain-option, a limiter. It doesn’t mean, I always use them, but they are pre-set, so I am constant with my sound.

Master-Bus: the same plugins, but most likely used more subtle. 1-2 dB here and there. Parallel compression, limiting, etc.

As for reverb-sends, I am not obsessed with “oh this flute needs to have a shorter verb…longer pre-delay”, etc. I start to use my master-chain as fast as possible. If I like the sound overall, i don’t spend more time on things, which won’t make the difference to the music. If I feel that something is missing, I search for the solution. Most likely it will be either automation, the right amount of compression, EQ balance, volume-balance. (The most important things!)

I will start my own channel in a couple of weeks. I will share some cool and valueable things here! :slight_smile:

Have a great day!
Alexey :slight_smile:


Hi, Thank you Alexey. I haven’t set up a template for mixing yet, though before adjusting a project I do load the same plugins, trying to get a uniform sound.

I also set up EQ, Compression, Saturation, etc for groups of instruments; synths, strings, perc and so on. I’m interested to check out your channel when it’s up. I know I’m pretty new to the mixing side. Does the order of the plugins make a difference? I’ve been applying EQ first based on what I’ve seen on YouTube, but seems I should EQ the sound after it’s been compressed & altered.

I use the adaptive limiter on the stereo out after eq, compression, sat, etc before the metering plugins. Even there I’ve seen suggestions from -.01 to -1 in order to be competitive in terms of volume .

Although I think I’ve improved I still need to bring up the low end without distorting.

practice, practice, practice

There is no right or wrong. What you just need to have in mind, that a signal is going from one device into another, which means that the signal is altered by the way you treated it by the first devise. Usually EQ before compression is more natural as you won’t have unnecessary frequencies going into the compressor. On the other side you can compressor the signal before the EQ to reduce the frequencies as well. The only difference is the output (sound). Just switch the inserts and hear what you like best!

Low end is a difficult topic. The only advice is when you don’t have proper room and subs, to constantly reference your tracks with similar tracks which had / have big success and sound great. Usually you get a better loudness when you cut your lows. There are a couple of things I could show later which can work.


Cool. Thank you! I’m going to start over with more attention to a reference track and how my monitors are set up.

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Oh yes! I am still fighting that fight even after so much time spent trying to “tame” the low end. If you have any pro tips as to what makes the sound loud but not muddy in that register, I’m all ears!

Hi @Mirza,

I think is most powerful tip is to decide really what instrument or sound should be playing the below 80Hz or so – which are the lowest two octaves.

The best option is, if you have only one instrument playing, like a bass or a kick. Usually it’s not possible or the case, as a kick doesn’t give you a “sustain”, which actually defines the real “beaf” down there.

Example A: Kick and a 808. I like to give the Kick more “Click”, more punch, which makes the Kick shorter as well. You can either do it by using a compressor with slow attack, around 40-50ms, or you take the “Transient Designer” approach and reduce the sustain/increasing attack. Doing this, you give the 808 instantly more space to live in. The 808 should be ducked, either by a side-chain compressor, 3-10dB, depends on the sounds and the sound you want to achieve. You can take a ducker, which reduced the volume by a couple of dB. The great thing is you shape the volume-envelope, so it’s easier to make it sound as you like. Compressor does only give you the release, where you need to find the right ms time, sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t. Another option would be using your volume-fader and draw the curves. A lot of work, but you can copy-paste. Last option, which comes to my mind right now, is using a dynamic-eq, which is more precise in terms of EQ-space. What you can try do is, using ALL at the same time, but more sparely, so 1-2 dBs here, 2-3 dBs there. Can work wonders and sounds even more “musical”.

Example B: Trailer Music – Let’s say you want your drums, all of them, have the greatest impact at the final climax. The same thing: As you can probably have 10 drums, which have too low-end when combines, you need to pick only one of them, as your “main character”. All other will be ducked by this character. As in example A. If you have a well thought-out template, you will usually see this: 1. Bus is your Kick, 2. Bus is your Bass or Low-End, and so forth. This gives you the option to use side-chain triggers, so you can really “control” your mix.

Another options: Let’s say you have a great bass-patch, however you think that it’s just too much “unclear” low-end with a lot of saturation, dirt, etc. You can A: take one of the oscillators and change it to a clear “Sine-Wave”, or B you cut the low-end and use a clear sine-wave as a layer track. The problem for sub-woofers is always to move this heavy low-end, which is really difficult for the speakers to handle, as too much uncleared frequencies are playing at the same time. The sub is basically “distorted” 2x times. By your sound and by your sub-woofer. So this “clear” sine-wave option can work wonders as well.

Saturating low-end doesn’t make sense, as I said before, only if you want to achieve a certain sound. However if you saturate the first octave of the bass (creating rich harmonics), your brain thinks you have “more” low-end actually. This is fact, as this is how our brain works. That’s the case why everyone wants to hear the low-end on smaller speakers. You trick your ear/brain that you have more, but actually you don’t.

But all above are only “tricks” for mixing. If you want to make something even more “clean”, you just need to adjust your arrangement and decide really, where and how certain things should play and sound. Arrangement is your second friend for your great productions. The first one is using already great rich sounding samples, where you don’t need to layer anything else to sound even more “awesome”. :slight_smile:

Kind regards,
Alexey :slight_smile:


Wow man, this is some serious high quality response. Thank you so much! I love how detailed you got and described all the potential scenarios that I’m looking for. Thank you again! I will test these techniques out today on one of the recent tracks I worked on :slight_smile:

Saturating low-end doesn’t make sense, as I said before, only if you want to achieve a certain sound. However if you saturate the first octave of the bass (creating rich harmonics), your brain thinks you have “more” low-end actually. This is fact, as this is how our brain works. That’s the case why everyone wants to hear the low-end on smaller speakers. You trick your ear/brain that you have more, but actually you don’t.

I have been using compression but more often than not, it didn’t produce the psycho-acoustic effect and made it muddier as you described. If you don’t mind clarifying just a little bit more, if you have let’s say kick and bass (1 instrument each) and they both reach below 80 Hz, is it better to have a sidechain or try to cut off the bass out completely, and just replace it with a basic sine wave layer as a separate track, sidechained to kick track?


I am glad as well, that @Mikael made this site, for people like me and you, so we can share things, help each other and have a great professional/serious conversation. Thank you! Just today, was reading on Facebook in a group, how many unnecessary comments are made. People laugh above the question you asked. You waste so much time there until you get a good and valuable answer, if you get any at all! You will never experience this here! :slight_smile:

Back to your question :slight_smile: : Well, first of all, compression “controls” the sound. As you said, you can “tame” unnecessary peaks, which is important to control your headroom.
The lower note E(1), which you can reach on a normal bass, is at around 41 Hz. Usually the bass is playing the octave above. So around 80-120 Hz. That said, in most cases the Kick has it’s fundamentals at around 50-60 Hz, so it’s not really conflicting with bass in that area at all. So if your bass hits let’s say C2 at 65 Hz, you can cut everything out below this note – you make instantly room for your Kick. If you think, your bass needs more impact “down-under”, the best and easiest way is play sine-waves on a separate track, mix it under your normal bass sound and side-chain to your Kick.

The Kick has it’s body one octave above it’s first resonance. So in our case around 100-120 Hz. In most cases a difficult area, as our bass is playing there as well. Here you need to decide, if the bass is more important to you, or your kick. If you prefer your bass, then you need to cut that area in your kick. I most likely do it with a dynamic EQ. Sometimes a grab a normal EQ, if I think it doesn’t “ruin” my overall kick sound. What you can do as well, as you tame the kick there, saturate that area a little bit, so you still hear the impact. If you want your kick to be the main voice, then the same thing but reversed. As well, a little bit saturation on the bass will help to preserve the “Hey, I am the bass and I am still here!”.

Another cool trick for the bass could be: double the track, cut out the lowest octave, take a transient shaper and give it some beaf (3-5 dB attack) . Then you dial back to your original bass. That way your bass still has the transients, which you could lose by side-chaining to your kick.

Hope that helps somehow :slight_smile:
Alexey :slight_smile:


Seriously you should have a blog sharing articles on music production, mixing, effects etc. You have so much great advice that you share in such an organized way. You have all the talents of a good teacher Alexey! :slight_smile:


Thank you so much, @Mikael!

Well, as I said, it’s all in making…and takes some time. You know it yourself :slight_smile:

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