The Quickie Guide To Mixing, Parts 1-25
and Windows Recording Guidelines 

2/2/06 - 5/23/06
from Sweetwater:

Here are all the tips for the year

(Part1) Most of us in the home studio world function as composer, musician, engineer, producer, and mixer. The downside of this type of multitasking is that we must constantly shift our focus and concentration among various areas. Since it takes years to be really good at doing just one thing, we've assembled a crash course in mixing to save you time spent away from other musical endeavors.

Our focus will be on DAW mixing. An advantage of DAW mix windows is that you don't necessarily need to keep a track sheet since you have the ability to label tracks in the GUI. But keep some form of written production sheet to provide a handy reference for what you've accomplished and what remains to be done. Most DAWs offer a virtual notepad, but in the unhappy event that you lose your data, a production sheet will let you retrace your steps. Keep it where you can get to it easily, even when you aren't working at your computer, so you can save your production ideas as they come to you.

(Part2) Adjust your DAW's hardware buffer size before you mix. Since your computer's CPU determines the amount of audio tracks, plug-ins, audio instruments, and automation data you can use for a session, it's necessary to make adjustments for optimal performance.

The hardware buffer determines the amount of audio data in samples that the computer's CPU takes and processes for recording and playback. Smaller buffer sizes mean less latency, which is good for recording, but it also means more processing is needed and therefore less plug-ins become available. Larger buffer settings mean more latency (not as big of an issue once tracking is completed), but more plug-ins can be handled. It follows that larger buffer sizes are more useful for mixdown. Make it a habit to set hardware buffers before recording and reset them before mixing. Depending on your system, we've found a good rule of thumb to be 128-256 samples for recording and 512-1,024 for mixing.

(Part3) If your tracks comprise MIDI performances (audio instruments, soft-synths, samplers) along with audio tracks, first render all virtual tracks as audio tracks, or use your sequencer's "freeze" function. This eliminates confusion and saves CPU resources. Since DAWs use math to process audio, technically, you should have more than enough headroom to work with, but in reality, you can run out of headroom fairly easily. Set your track and master faders at unity and listen to the tracks as they were recorded. This will give you an idea of relative balances between instruments, and thus a place to start building a mix from. Watch the master fader peak meters for digital overs. These usually take the form of two boxes side-by-side above the stereo master fader turning red. If you see this, leave the master at unity and bring all of the track faders down uniformly until the clipping goes away. We want to maintain the highest signal-to-noise ratio, which results in clarity in the mix. Leaving the meters at just below clipping won't allow you room for additional processing such as EQ and compression, which tend to add gain. It follows that you should do this step prior to inserting plug-ins.

(Part 4) In Part 3 of this series, we set levels for optimum signal-to-noise before clipping. So what do we start with first and how do we keep levels from creeping back up to overload as we add more instruments?

There are two basic schools of thought regarding where to start. Some mixers start with drums and bass and then add instruments, saving the vocals for last. The problem with this method is that as instruments are added, volume increases leaving less headroom by the time we get to vocals.

Some mix engineers using analog gear would set the kick drum and bass levels to average between 5dB and -7dB on the VU meters with the snare hits at up to 0dB. Of course, digital and analog meters respond differently, but this approach is still useful.

The other method is to start with vocals at an average level of 0dB then add drums, bass, and other instruments without ever boosting vocals. Since vocals are the focus of the song, using vocals as a ceiling helps ensure that instrument levels are brought in to support and not out-shout them. A good compromise between the two methods is to set a level for drums and vocals first (you can use settings above as a starting point) and then fill in the blanks with other instruments. The advantage of this approach is that once drums and vocals have a good balance and the right energy, the rest is gravy.

(Part5) Back in the prehistoric times of the Large Formatus Consoleasaurus, creating subgroups was a smart move, since it meant less faders to move. For example, one fader could control the level of an entire submixed drum kit. Even though we have intensive automation capabilities in DAW software, it's still a wise move to create subgroups for drums, background vocals, and sectional instruments such as trumpets, saxes, or entire horn sections. Once you have a good balance, this allows you to change overall levels in the mix without having to go back and change each individual track separately. There's also the added advantage of conserving CPU resources when adding effects processing to a subgroup, since you only need one instance of the plug-in. For example, background vocals generally should sound like they are coming from the same ambient space. Therefore, using the same reverb for all voices is perfectly legal. First, create an aux channel and insert the reverb plug &mdash use your personal custom preset if you have one. If not, once you're happy with the 'verb, this would be the time to make one. For each track in the subgroup, create a bus to send the signal to the reverb aux channel. Now, when you change the level of the group, the effects will change accordingly.

(Part 6) In Part 5 of this series, we discussed subgroups and how they make overall level adjustments easier. Let's talk about those adjustments and when not to make them. We tend to group drums and backing vocals more than anything else in pop music and the rules for the two are pretty much the same. The overall level of your drum kit should remain for the most part constant throughout the song. Changes in dynamics from verse to chorus, etc., will have been taken care of by the drummer. Of course, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't experiment with raising the overall level slightly during a chorus to create a little more excitement, and pulling it back a little on the verse. This is most useful when working with MIDI sequenced drums however, rather than recorded acoustic kits.

(Part 7) Let's say you have your basic rhythm section and vocals in balance, but you have heavy guitars and synth pads that are covering up the vocals in certain places. The problem is, that you like the level of the guitars for the most part and raising the vocals creates more problems. In the analog days, mixers used a technique called ducking with a compressor or a noise gate that had external control capabilities. The vocal track was fed into the sidechain of the compressor that was controlling the level of the guitar and synth tracks. This way, whenever the vocals came in, the guitar and synth pads would drop in level by two or three decibels, rising again when vocals were made their exit. Not only does this contribute to clarity in the mix, but also with a fast attack time and a short release time, a pumping effect would occur, which in a rock mix could contribute extra energy and excitement. The pumping phenomenon is also used on snare drums for the same reason. As with any effect, subtle application is required.

(Part 8) Now that you've established levels and balances, it's time to add plug-ins.

In the past, we've advised creating a sequence template to speed the recording process. For mixing, a template may not be necessary since it's more of a build-as-you-go process. However, you can save time setting up plug-in settings in advance. If there are particular plug-ins that you favor for certain tasks, for instance, a UAD1 1176 compressor with a Pultec EQ for kick drums, create a folder and save those settings. When you move on to the next song, you can access your settings folder via the plug-in's preset recall. While the settings may not remain the same from song to song, you have an in-the-ballpark reference to start from.

(Part 9) In a previous Mixing Tech Tip, we established levels and balances. Technically, you could say that we're done. Of course, that implies that we're completely happy with the results. Let's say that we're 80 90% happy; now, we want to add the secret sauce that makes a mix sound magical. In the past, we had a few ingredients to work with: EQ, reverb, delay, and compression. Today, these still form the basis of our secret sauce, but thanks to plug-ins we have many more options. Let's start with the basics and work our way into more advanced techniques. Following our list, let's begin with EQ, but remember, while we deal with these components of sound individually, their effects are interrelated. The basic rule to observe when it comes to applying EQ is this: If you have two instruments playing in the same range and you boost a specific frequency range on one, make sure you cut the same frequency range on the other. Remember that boosting frequencies adds level to the overall mix, thus reducing headroom. If you do find yourself boosting, particularly in the bass or low mids, you'll start running out of headroom real quick. Most, if not all EQ plug-ins come with an output gain control. Reduce the gain slightly to compensate for the rise in volume. Conversely, if you cut a frequency, which is always preferable in EQ problem-solving, add a little gain to compensate for the resultant loss of volume. The creative decisions for when and how much to boost or cut EQ will be the subject of our next few Tech Tips.

(Part 10) Before we get to the finer points of boosting and cutting EQ, it's important to establish a quantitative reference. (That's geek-speak for "how much.") Since our ear doesn't perceive volume in a linear fashion, we use a logarithmic scale to measure increase and decrease in volume, measured in decibels (dB).

Contrary to popular belief logarithms are not produced by beating sticks on hollowed out tree trunks, but there are musical applications. One dB is considered the least amount of change in sound the human ear can detect without a reference. Certain "golden ears" can hear smaller subdivisions, but for our purposes we'll stick with one dB as a reference point.

Getting back to the logarithmic scale, while 1dB is the smallest rate of change we can hear, a boost of 3dB is not merely adding by two, it actually results in a doubling of voltage, which equates to sound pressure in audio equipment. As applied to mixing, a small boost or cut will sound more natural. Too much EQ can introduce phase problems, plus the added gain decreases headroom by adding more volume to the overall mix. To hear the effects of a 3dB boost or cut, import a song from a commercial CD into a stereo track in your DAW software. Insert a parametric EQ, select 10kHz with a fairly broad bandwidth (if your plug-in allows it), and cut it by 3dB. Use your EQ plug-in's bypass to hear the results. Do the same at 8kHz, 6kHz, 3.5kHz, 1kHz, and 250Hz. You should hear a pretty dramatic difference when you compare it the original. Now do the same with 1dB cuts and boosts. In the following tips we'll discuss where in the frequency spectrum we might wish to boost or cut EQ, and what musical effects this will have.

(Part 11) In Part 10 of this series, we discussed how much to boost or cut. Now we'll talk about where we cut and musically relevant reasons why.

Let's start with the extreme highs and work our way down the frequency spectrum. Generally, we boost high frequencies to add clarity, presence (often referred to as bringing a sound forward in the mix), and adding a little thing called "air." This is a technique that many mixers use to bring sheen or sparkle to a mix. It's mainly applied to vocals, but other instruments can benefit from this technique as well. Adding "air" is nothing more than boosting EQ in the extreme high register, or at around 12-16kHz (centering at 14,000 Hertz). On the plus side, the result is a little more clarity, detail, and sparkle. It also serves to bring vocals a little "forward" in the mix in the recording. The downside is that boosting this range also brings out any noise and hiss.

It's important to remember that this technique was born out of analog recording, where high frequency content was lost in numerous passes of tape, and more so when bouncing. As such, it was often left for the mastering phase.

In digital recordings, adding "air" can sound downright obnoxious, particularly if you've recorded at 48kHz resolution. The reason for this is due to high frequency "cramping," which occurs when EQ curves approach the area close to half the sampling frequency (Nyquist frequency). The curve becomes increasingly steeper as you approach the upper end of the frequency range. The effects of HF cramping are exactly the opposite of what we want; a reduction of high frequency response, causing the sound to be less open, and with added harshness. If you record at 88.2 or 96kHz, the problem is greatly reduced. Use an EQ plug-in that has a high-frequency shelving control, such as the UAD-1 Pultec.

Another thing to remember is that in the analog days, EQs like the Pultec, and those made by Neve, were chosen because of the specific quality of the "air" they imparted, which was based on their circuit design. Rule of thumb: try it with whatever EQ you have &mdash if it sounds right, it is right.

(Part 12) In the previous tip, we discussed adding "air" or extreme high-frequency content to vocals and possibly other instruments. Let's move down the frequency spectrum a bit to the high treble (or top) and lower treble range. High treble centers at 10kHz, while the lower treble centers at 8kHz. A slight boost in this area will add some detail and clarity to vocals, again, bringing them forward in a mix. The "tail" of a cymbal can be either emphasized or de-emphasized in this range. The downside of boosting in this range is added harshness and phase problems. To understand what we mean by phase, if you have a parametric equalizer, try this experiment: In the high-frequency band, boost the gain control to maximum (+15dB) and sweep through the frequency range. You'll hear a sound very reminiscent of the phase shifter effect used on guitars. So, if you boost in that range, you'll be adding pitched noise to your track. If you want to bring vocals or an instrument forward in a mix without adding the harshness or emphasis of a frequency that is unnatural in relation to its source, try using an exciter instead (such as the Aural Exciter by Aphex). Speaking of cymbals, an exciter used judiciously will add some sizzle to the tail of the cymbal hit without harshness. Used in conjunction with a compressor, sampled cymbals will take on more of the sound of being played live, as the decay of the cymbal will trail off "naturally" into the following measure of music without sounding choked or obnoxious. The best type of compressor to use is one that allows you to change the slope of the compression (non-linear compression), such as the Joe Meek SC2 plug-in found in the Digidesign Digi 002 Factory Bundle. Use a slope setting that causes the cymbal tail to dip in volume rather quickly while adding a fairly long decay. The effect is a sparkling decay that trails off naturally, as a cymbal being played live would, but without the overbearing "Keith Moon effect." Attention to subtle details such as this will not draw the listener's ear in as much as it releases it to focus on the music. Basic rule of thumb: Avoid excessive EQ boosts in this range (8-10kHz), and if you must, try to limit it to one thing in the mix.

(Part 13) Previously, we discussed the elements of boosting EQ in the upper and lower treble range. As we move down the frequency spectrum, we encounter the midrange, which we divide into three sections: lower, mid, and upper mid ("mid" is jargon for midrange). This encompasses a range from approximately 250Hz (low mid) to 5kHz (high mids). Keep in mind there is an overlap in all areas of the frequency spectrum. E.g. upper mids do not end abruptly at 250Hz or 5k. Since most of pop music lives in this range, with the exception of bass, which we will discuss in later tips, we'll proceed from here on a case-by-case basis, but first, some basic rules of thumb: Subtle boosts from 5kHz to 8kHz can add clarity and life to an otherwise flat-sounding instrument. To emphasize a specific range of frequencies, medium to wide octave settings with small amounts of boost yield the most musical results. To emphasize specific instruments such as bass drums or hi-hats, you can use narrower octave settings, but remember; too much boost creates an unnatural sound.

(Part 14) If you recall from our last tip on mixing, (Part 13) we talked about EQing in the midrange. Since this is where most of the sound of pop and rock music lives, we decided to go on a case-by-case basis rather than address the issues of EQ globally. Just by way of refresher, we use EQ boosts to alter an instrument's sound, we cut when we wish to have an instrument sit better in a mix. Since we're discussing rock, let's start with guitars.

Electric guitars often need a little EQ to add bite or presence. Depending on the type of sound you're after, 1.2kHz, 2kHz, or 3kHz, are good starting points. The frequency range from 2.5kHz to about 5kHz adds edge and definition to most guitar sounds. The degree of boost should be determined by ear (remember, small amounts work best) and the bandwidth should be set to one octave, although this may also be fine-tuned by ear.

Equalization at the low end of the spectrum (80Hz-125Hz) may also be beneficial in controlling the amount of cabinet resonance added to the sound. 100Hz can add a good solid low end. Boost this frequency sparingly, as a boost here will conflict with the bass guitar (many tend to cut this frequency quite often on guitar). Guitars sound muddy at 200Hz, so it's best not to boost here. A cut at 200Hz can expose the lows and the highs so that the sound has more clarity and low-end punch. Also, cutting this frequency can help a humbucker pickup sound like a single-coil pickup. The frequency range from 250Hz to 350Hz can add punch and help the blend of a distorted rock sound, and the range from 500Hz to 600Hz often contains most of the body and punchy character. Remember when you boost a specific frequency, try to cut the same frequency elsewhere.

(Part 15) In the previous tip (Part #14) we discussed equalizing guitars individually. Now we're going to talk about EQ'ing multiple guitars to fit in a mix. Let's say you have three guitars panned left, right, and center. (We'll talk about panning in future tips.) Assuming that you've followed the previous tips and have them EQ'ed such that they don't conflict with one another, and you're pleased with the overall sound, how do you get them all to sit in the mix without changing everything you've done? The answer is to use a stereo bus or aux track) and route the guitars to it.

Logic Pro and other DAWs allow you to do this quite easily. For example, in Logic, Go to the track mixer window. On the guitars' audio tracks select "bus 1" from the output popup (the last popup on the object) as the output destination. Now all audio on the guitar tracks will be routed to the Bus 1 object in the track mixer. Make sure the Bus object is set to stereo and its output is routed to your main mix, otherwise you won't hear anything. You should have your three guitar tracks being output simultaneously from the Bus object.

Next, insert an EQ plug-in by clicking on the Bus object's Insert slot. Set the EQ to cut at around 2.5 to 3kHz, and also at approximately 400Hz. By cutting the guitars at these frequencies, we're allowing the vocals to have more punch and clarity in the overall mix. Remember to use a bandwidth of one octave to start, EQ to taste, and as always, do so sparingly &mdash we're not going for a dramatic effect here, just trying to create some room for the vocals.

(Part 16) In previous tips (Quickie Guide to DAW Mixing parts 14 and 15) we discussed some EQ scenarios for electric guitar. Today's tip concerns EQ for acoustic guitars. When properly miked, acoustic guitars require very little or no EQ. However, if the mic was placed too close during recording, an acoustic guitar can sound boxy. A slight cut at either 100Hz or 160Hz can help to reduce that effect to manageable levels.

The range from 300-350Hz can also be an area where "mud" occurs, although it's probably more the case with overdriven electric guitars.

For dull and lifeless sounding acoustic guitars, try adding some boost between 5kHz and 8kHz.

To help an acoustic guitar sit nicely in a busy mix, use a high-pass filter to reduce a little of the bottom end.

One of the great advantages of using a DAW to process acoustic guitars is the ability to automate EQ. For example, if you have a small section where the acoustic guitar solos, such as the break in Boston's "Peace of Mind," you can automate the EQ to remove the high-pass filter and/or boost certain frequencies to bring back the body of the sound just for that section. Another trick is to automate the EQ to make subtle changes for dynamic effect. For example, you could boost highs subtly during a 2-measure transition to a chorus, thus adding a sense of excitement going into the chorus.

(Part 17) Unless you're going for an obvious effect, our familiarity with the sound of the human voice makes over-treated vocals obvious or unpleasant to the ear. While different vocalists require treatments that are unique to their individual voice, in general, use wide octave settings and gentle amounts of boost. EQing at the following frequencies can improve the sound of a vocal performance: For fullness, adjust between 140-440Hz, for intelligibility, adjust between 1-2.5kHz, for presence adjust between 4 and 5kHz. Sibilance occurs between 6 and 10kHz. It's best to cut here. Stay tuned for additional tips for EQing vocals.

(Part 18) In our last tip (QGtDM #17), we gave some basic guidelines for EQing vocals. Here are some additional suggestions:


(Part 19) By now a cliche, but still a very effective one, you can use EQ to create an AM radio or telephone vocal effect: Cut high frequencies, frequencies below 700Hz, and dramatically boost frequencies around 1.5kHz. Another trick to making vocals stand out is by EQing the formants of the voice. Formants are the resonant properties of a voice based on the physical characteristics of the singer. The main formant range for men is around 2.5 to 3kHz and roughly 3 to 3.5kHz for women. There are also low formant ranges: 500Hz for men and 1kHz for women.

(Part 20) As we mentioned in the previous tip (QGM 18), vocal sibilance, that annoying "sss" or "sh" sound, can play merry havoc with our ears. However, if we cut EQ in the high frequency range where sibilance occurs, which is around 6kHz and upward, we run the risk of removing the bright, open sound of the vocals, rendering them dull and lifeless. We need a means of selectively removing sibilance. Back in the good old analog days of stone cutting tools and therapeutic bloodletting, we used a somewhat complicated combination of EQ and compressor tied together via the compressor's sidechain.

Since the net abounds with tips on this archaic technique, we'll just skip ahead to the DAW world, where all we have to do is find the sibilance in the vocal track and automate our EQ plug-in to reduce the offending frequency when it occurs. This is similar to what the EQ/compressor sidechain setup does, but instead, we can be surgically accurate. As you find the sections where sibilance occurs, boost the gain of the high frequency range and sweep through the frequencies until you find the one where the effect is most pronounced. The loop playback function of the DAW really comes in handy here for repeatedly listening to a passage while searching for the right frequency.

Once you've isolated the fiendish frequency, set a very narrow "Q" or octave range/bandwidth, and cut until the sibilance becomes civilized. Set your EQ plug-in to read automation, and have it reduce gain by that amount, but only during the sibilant portion of the word (which coincidently, will be a word starting with the letter "S") and then return gain to normal.

With DAW software, you have the luxury of dedicating as many EQs to your vocals as you want, so that one can do tone-shaping while the other merely reduces sibilance. Or, if you have a 7- or 10-band EQ plug-in, you can dedicate one band to de-essing.

(Part 21) Since we're focusing on DAWs, there's a good chance you're using sampled drum sounds. It's important to keep in mind that these sounds may have been EQed within an inch of their lives during the production process. If you've chosen a sample, chances are you already like the sound. The only issues you really need to contend with are EQing drums to fit in the mix. Here are some basic guidelines that apply to both samples and acoustic drums.

For a defined, punchy kick drum, boost at 80Hz, cut around 400 Hz (to remove boxiness and conflicts with other instruments), and boost at 3-4kHz (to bring out attack). For snare, add body at 250Hz, presence at 1.8kHz, and highs at 7kHz for a little crispness. Toms should be handled individually if possible; the approach is pretty much the same as for kick drum with the exception of boosting the lows. If you like a crisp, clean sound on hi-hat, roll off the lows and boost a little at 10kHz. If you like a chunkier sound, boost the upper mids (5-6kHz) a bit.

(Part 22) This tip deals with using EQ to add some interest, and the illusion of realism, to acoustic drum samples. The boring sameness of repetitive samples is well-covered territory, with drums being the primary offender. Since drums produce timbral changes based on how hard they are struck, we can automate an EQ plug-in to simulate that change. For example, on a snare hitting at beats two and 4, set the EQ to boost

slightly in the highs (around 7kHz) on beat two and back off a little on beat four. This will create a sense of movement. For snare fills at the end of a phrase, set the EQ to track the rate of change in volume levels of the snare, such that as the fill rises in intensity and volume, the EQ adds highs accordingly. For hi-hat patterns, try automating an EQ to track levels, adding highs (or other frequencies of your choice) subtly. For example, in a 6/8 pattern, there would likely be an increase in level most noticeably at beat one and four in the phrase. Having the highs on the EQ plug increase accordingly will create the illusion of the timbral change that comes with changes in playing levels. The same thinking can be applied to kick drums. A simultaneous boost at 3-4kHz for attack along with a slight boost at 80-120Hz may yield some interesting results. As always, experiment freely.

(Part 23) Last time, we discussed creative EQ for drums (3-30-06). Moving to the more mundane, lets talk about finding problem frequencies with instruments like drums. Since the drum sounds go by so quickly it's difficult to use the boost the gain all the way and sweep the frequency band trick to isolate obnoxious frequencies. Here's a way to deal with fast-moving musical events. This technique works whether you're looking to boost or cut.

Let's say that you have an instrument that's playing in the mud. For sake of example, let's take the 250Hz - 450Hz range. First, create a loop so that the instrument's phrase repeats indefinitely. Next, boost the low mid gain control all the way. Separate the frequency range into four or five points, i.e., 250, 300, 350, 400, and 450 Hz. Now, all you have to do is listen through the loop at each of the settings instead of trying to sweep. You can subdivide the frequency range as far as you have patience for. Since our example referred to mud, let's assume that you just want to cut low mids for clarity. By way of shortcut, cut the gain by about 2-3dB and do the same process.

(Part 24) In a previous series of tech tips, we discussed using the Sony Oxford Transient Modulator to bring drums forward in a submix for clarity. This tip deals with clarity of another fashion; that is how to pan drums (that aren't fighting for space) for clarity. Let's assume that the drums are miked in the usual configuration; a pair of overheads and separate mics on the kick, hi-hat, snare, and toms. First, pan the overheads hard left and right. Next, listen for the position of each drum as it occurs in the stereo soundstage and then pan each separate drum so that they are in the exact position they occupy in the soundstage; i.e. hi-hat slightly left of snare, toms to the right, and etc. Because the individual drums occupy the same sonic space as they do in the overheads, this will yield the greatest amount of clarity. Otherwise, if you pan them elsewhere, youղe actually creating a separate stereo pan for each instrument, which occupies more of the sound field, and therefore clutters it. Despite this, some engineers will pan toms more dramatically for added fun-factor.

(Part 25) Generally when we apply reverb to instruments such as a drum kit, we tend to pan reverb in stereo (hard left and right) in order to create the effect of reverb as it occurs in a room. In mixing, there are two schools of thought regarding this. One school says do it; the other says no, because the more sounds you have hard-panned, the more it clutters the speakers and thus, the stereo field. Keep in mind that the stereo soundstage is an illusion. Ultimately, all we have is left and right. One way to create an interesting sonic signature in a mix, as well as open up space for other instruments is to pan an instrument's reverb in mono exactly where the instrument itself is panned. This works best with reverbs that have short tails or gated reverbs.

Notes on Compression and EQ

When applying both EQ and compression to a track, should the compressor go first, or should the equalizer? There are no hard and fast rules for the order of processing &mdash except to use your ears to decide what sounds best. But there are some basic guidelines that can help you find the right combination for your situation.

Typically, you want to compress the signal at the point where there is the least amount of bass energy present. Bass frequencies have a lot of energy, and a compressor responding to changes in the level of bass-energy can cause the high-frequency instruments to seem to jump out in front of the mix. Applying compression where there is the least amount of bass can keep the compressor from "pumping," eliminating the sudden rise in volume of treble instruments.

Of course, feel free to experiment with the order of effects and find what works best for you. Sometimes things that are against the "rules" can conjure cool sounds. And even if you follow these guidelines, it's never a bad idea to do an A/B comparison to see which one fits the mix better.

Optimization of Windows XP for Audio
6/6/06 - 6/8/06

By default, Windows sets virtual memory automatically, which can limit system performance when it comes to audio. It would be wise to disable virtual memory to get the most out of your Windows-based system. To do this, perform the following:

1. Go to Control Panel, select System, and select the Advanced tab.

2. Under Performance, click the "Settings" button and select the Advanced tab.

3. Under Virtual Memory, click the "Change" button.

4. Select "No Paging File" and press "Set," then "OK."

It would be a good idea to defragment your hard drive after performing this task. Defragmenting your disk places the data for your files next to each other (rather than scattered randomly throughout the disk), which speeds up reading writing to and from the disk, increasing system stability.

Disabling write-behind caching will increase your system performance by writing data immediately to disk. To disable write-behind caching

1. Right click on My Computer and choose Properties, or open the Control Panel and select System.

2. Select the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button.

3. Click the "plus" sign next to Disk Drives and select a drive.

4. Choose Properties and uncheck "Write Cache Enabled."

5. Repeat for any and all drives in your system.

Disabling the continual logging of Input and Output data to your hard drive will free up some system resources. To disable this, go to the Start menu and select Run. Type in "diskperf n" (without the quotes) and hit Okay.