6 best mixing and mastering tutorials and online courses
It’s all very well getting caught up in buying the latest plug-ins and outboard, but it’s no use if you don’t know how to use them! We’ve rounded up some of our favourite mixing tutorials and online courses that can help improve your production chops and take your mixes to the next level.
It’s all very well getting caught up in buying the latest plug-ins and outboard, but it’s no use if you don’t know how to use them! Here are six of the best mixing tutorials and online courses that you need to know about.
Best automation: Logic Pro X Automation Explained
It’s not big and it’s not sexy, but mastering automation is an essential skill to learn if you want to craft fluid mixes that ebb and swell dynamically along with the music. Aside from a few omissions, Logic has long had some of the most extensive automation tools available, and this course from Groove 3 goes deeper than deep to explain each and every detail across 28 chapters.
We said: “Topics covered include automation settings, creating and editing points and curves, working on multiple tracks at once, automation record modes, region automation, MIDI draw and much more. We consider ourselves to be Logic veterans and even on chapters covering topics as simple as creating and deleting control points, we still learnt several highly useful tips and keyboard shortcuts. Zangar has a clear presentation style, with concise use of examples, making this an essential tutorial for beginners and pros alike.”
Price $35 (download) $15p/m (stream whole site). More info here.
Best EQ: EQ Fundamentals
Frequency balance is undeniably one of the most important parts of any mix, and making parts sound as good as possible individually, whilst avoiding clashes and making the mix work as a whole, is an art form. If you’re new to the world of EQ or looking to brush up on your knowledge, then Rob Jones’ EQ Fundamentals is a good place to start, with clear explanations and plenty of practical techniques and examples.
We said: “This is an incredibly well-thought-out and presented course that takes care to show how to EQ instruments in isolation and with respect to a whole mix, and gradually increases in complexity as it progresses. Everything is taught using Logic and Live stock plug-ins, but the techniques are totally transferable, and you also get two sets of stems and project files to experiment with, plus a multiple choice quiz.”
Price £19.95. More info here.
Best acoustics: Home Studio Know-How: The Room & Acoustics
There’s no getting around the fact that trying to mix in a poorly treated room will make decision making much harder than it needs to be. This excellent course from Groove 3 helps demystify room acoustics, and offers practical tips to improve your mixing environment.
We said: “Things begin with a brief look at sound waves basics and the energy of sound, before moving on to the speakers, listening position and the room itself, and finally taking in acoustic treatment types and a practical walkthrough of treating a specific space. A great deal of time and effort has gone into the presentation and editing of each chapter, with multiple graphs and visual examples throughout helping to keep a potentially dry topic interesting and engaging. There’s also creative use of graphics to help visualise more complex concepts. Overall, this is an excellent course that’s fast moving, accessible and packed full of information.”
Price $35 (download) $15p/m (stream whole site). More info here.
Best stereo: Complete Guide to Stereo Width by Rob Jones
Have you ever noticed how the best sounding records have incredible separation between sounds across the stereo field? To craft a well-balanced sound stage such as this you have to carefully consider the position of each track, alongside its width and depth, and also stereo processing on busses and the master. This in-depth overview sees Rob Jones explaining all things stereo, from basic panning through to more advanced techniques on a range of instruments.
We said: “Jones mostly focuses on Live’s built-in plug-ins, but the overall techniques are relevant to all DAWs, and one of the chapters covers third-party stereo processors. Throughout the course, various chorus and delay effects racks are made, which come bundled with the course alongside comprehensive written notes to accompany each module, and a Live Project. The final video is a 30-minute-long walkthrough on how to bring together all the techniques that have been shown to mix a finished track.”
Price £14.95. More info here.
Best pop mixing tips: Produce a Killer Pop Track
A decent, full-sounding pop record is often the result of intricate production and well thought-out layering. Songwriter, producer and instrumentalist Paul Whalley has joined forces with MusicGurus for a breakdown of the track Red, and a behind the scenes look at the techniques he uses to create a polished final production. You also get stems available to download and mix yourself, plus 1-2-1 support and mentoring.
We said: “Producer Paul Whalley dissects a heavily-layered and professional-sounding pop mix, with a combination of shorter concept videos, and longer in-depth chapters that breakdown each part of the mix. The main focus is on the writing process, arrangement, hooks and discussions on why each part was processed in a particular way, with some excellent chapters on vocal processing and mastering. Although Pro Tools and an array of third-party plug-ins are used, the techniques shown are easily transferable.”
Price $120 (stream online). More info here.
Best vocals: Recording Vocals Explained
Rubbish in, rubbish out, as they say. A badly recorded vocal can add hours of additional work and require multiple processes to fix, assuming it can be fixed at all. Your best bet is to get it right on the way in and create a good quality recording from the off. In this course, multi-platinum selling engineer and producer Kenny Gioia looks at preamps, setting up microphones, compressors and EQs, then moves on to recording, comping, post-production and tuning.
We said: “Gioia’s presenting is snappy, fast-paced and to the point, resulting in an information-packed hour that you’ll probably end up revisiting to get the most out of it. The overall techniques are applicable to any DAW, but those working in Pro Tools will get a lot more workflow tips and shortcuts. There’s good use of diagrams and overlays to help explain things, and also of A/B-ing to hear what effect the plug-ins are having.”
Price $25 (download) $15p/m (stream whole site). More info here.
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