Thoughts on top down mixing?

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by 洋鬼子, Sep 30, 2022.

  1. 洋鬼子

    洋鬼子 Kapellmeister

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    I sometimes hear some engineers critique this kind of mixing and im quite eager to hear the opinion of different people since im currently experimenting a lot with top down mixing.
    Im a huge Nolly fan and I noticed that my mixes in comparison seem to sound much better with this method.
    Obviously im not an experienced mixer so im pretty sure people will view this topic quite differently.

    Would you recommend this kind of mixing style or not?
    (For those that don't know top down mixing I added a video of Nolly applying it)

    Top down mixing is mentioned starting at 1:50
     
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  3. droplet

    droplet Rock Star

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    Top down works fine and it could be faster. I use midi. Do the midi tracks without much processing. fast fast. then group the tracks... for example syths. add eq to the synth buss and then move it to all the synth tracks then vari the eqs based on the needs of the individual synths.
     
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  4. Stevie Dude

    Stevie Dude Audiosexual

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    yeah, it's the way to go, everything will become tighter as you mixing into a compressor, where every little move you make will change how it react and you will always need to consider how the compressor will react to the changes. I only add a compressor and start the "top down" when I got few stuff grooving, where there's a rhythm felt in the mix after few single elements tweak, 3 4 tracks, most of the time it's the kick, snare and bass, sometimes maybe percussion or guitar, depends on what drive the main rhythm. Fine tune the rhythm with mixbus compressor until it capable of making you moving your body with the music, the release time of the compressor. That's how it's done, you are mixing music, if it can't make you move while working on it, it probably wont make others move. The mixbus compressor although some would say it glue stuff together whatever, its most important job is to get the main groove of the song right and it is always better to get the groove right at the very beginning of the mixing process. It's always no more than 2 or 3db already enough to get things grooving. The rest is just balancing and fine tweaking. It also make you aware of the gain staging and not boosting volume to make things sound good because it will make the compressor hit harder and you'll lose everything. Choosing the right type of mixbus compressor for the song also important, whether it is single stage dual stage triple release, auto, the transfer curve etc etc.

    wait, are there people that only add mixbus compressor at the very end of the session ?
     
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  5. petrrr

    petrrr Kapellmeister

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    if you start making a beat, and u're fine with it,

    why would u add a compressor to change its feeling? it must be a conscious decision you need to change the pulsing or something right?

    its not always a rule u need to add a compressor to make it sound better?
     
  6. Lieglein

    Lieglein Rock Star

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    You do not need mixing if the production has been made well enough.
    It's not advisable to see "mixing" as a task with objective qualitative targets, or even as a necessary task.

    People just complicate very simple operations here again. You can put your audio processors when and where you want to. You do not need a special designation for every one of your behaviors.

    "Oooo I am a top down mixer :mad:"

    I'd just rate it as dubious.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2022
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  7. Stevie Dude

    Stevie Dude Audiosexual

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    It doesn't really fully apply to these days style where people mixing while producing or beat making. This approach is only a little meaningful when you are mixing a fully produced music (sometimes not produced, but only recorded someplace else) that's already has a version of "rough mix" where you are getting paid to make your version better, whatever that means, without hurting the original idea and vision of that song.
     
  8. playtime

    playtime Rock Star

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    I do top down mixing. Much faster for my workflow and very often I must deliver things very FAST. Keeping in mind I know how each track/instrument/sample sounds on the way in + saved track & master templates it's much easier for me.
     
  9. No Avenger

    No Avenger Moderator Staff Member

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    I've tried it with hardware and software, both for quite some time and it didn't work for me.
    1. EQ: Even if the input level doesn't matter that much, bear in mind its setting affects each sound, every single channel. How do you know what your final mix will need? A 60Hz boost? In every sound?? What if this is the root freq of the kick and it's already too loud? Or you don't want that boost in the bass (not to speak of all the other sounds that don't need this at all)?
    Same for high boosts. What if the cyms/synth/guitars/vocals are already too bright?
    ATME, the quality of my mixes decreased when I used an EQ in the main out right from the start.

    2. Dynamics: Even worse because they depend heavily on the input level. You'll need to adjust it all the time, with every single additional sound. For me this was too much of a hassle and it's way easier to add a compressor when I'm at 80 - 90% of the mix - if the mix needs it.

    At the end of the day, if it works, it works, but I really don't know how this should improve my basic mixing - neither in theory, nor in practise.
     
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  10. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    Personally I don't do top-down-mixing. It's not working for me and it's not my workflow. I still have a fixed 2-bus chain with an EQ and compressor, but that's not really top-down-mixing.

    But if it works for you then just do it!
     
  11. macros mk2

    macros mk2 Member

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    one thing I think is kinda funny is "if the production is good you don't need much mixing"... but if you think about that a bit it's because the "mixing" has already happened- its balanced and clear etc. what I get that to mean is that the closer you get your song to as good as its gonna get before you hand it off the less will have to be done later- sure, that makes sense. it's like saying if you're going 55 entering a 60 speed zone you don't need to accelerate much.

    it seems like this runs counter to the "be a producer and let someone else mix" (if your goal is not to be a mixing engineer)- either you're getting your own song as mixed well as you can or not right? if there is a curve to completing a mix of a song, I get not wanting to get bogged down in that last 5-10% where it's the most work for the most subtle improvements, but I also don't get from a creative/production standpoint how mixing knowledge/skill doesn't directly effect your creative ceiling.

    In theory (aka if I had money) I'd hand any song I finished (again in theory lol) off to engineers, a second/third pair of expert ears are always gonna be good. that being said just a few days ago I ran into another of what I consider a good example of how shrugging about the mixdown of an unfinished song doesn't work for me.

    while recreating a song from Ableton in reaper, which I find to be much more condusive to mixing as I go, I decided to spend some time cleaning it up. its just an intro with distorted synth bass, 3 layers of ambient choir, one "normal" choir and a ton of reverb and delay, in Ableton I had just tried to balance the volumes and pan stuff to make room, and it sounded full/complete to me. in reaper i spent more time, eq'd, slight compression on the choir bus to smooth it out...so nothing crazy besides like actually spending more than 2 minutes on it. what did seem full earlier afterwords did not, however it also didn't sound like too thin or anything, I prefer it in an a/b with the older version for sure.

    once I had tamed things and sat back and listened to it what had been passing my insane "this part of the song is complete enough/I'm not driven to add something I hear in my head" test now was not, and the core was good it just could take more elements now. it could be I'm not using the right words to differentiate between me dialing in the sound I want while producing and handing a project off to a pro as well. but if making a song is knowing what elements it needs/doesn't need, and mixing is arranging those elements so they all fit- it seems like it sure helps to have things more than less fitting to get an accurate look of what a song needs.

    if you're a jack of all trades, or a 5 of some trades like me, then if you suck ass at mixing then imo youre not really hearing your song accurately (to your own vision) and your ego is either compensating by filling in it's potential (ie it sounds good until you play it front of someone hahaha. "fuck") or by bogging you down as you search for answers in places besides the mix, where you should be looking.
     
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  12. KungPaoFist

    KungPaoFist Audiosexual

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    I just discovered it can help with getting the low end right so I think i'll be doing some form of mixing into the limiter now.
     
  13. Mud Jones

    Mud Jones Platinum Record

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    Me. Nothing on the mixbus until I feel like it sounds good and doesn't need anything on the mixbus. Then I unnecessarily add stuff on the mixbus after bouncing everything to waves files (Stems?) and call that mastering.

    The End.
     
  14. Trurl

    Trurl Audiosexual

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    I suppose I've been a "top down" mixer all along without realizIng it but the reason it works is because I've got the individual tracks dealt with during the tracking process so they're in line once the "mix" phase arrives. So there's a bottom-up process during recording that leads to a top-down phase. I'm not sure you can top down without having tracked yourself and worked on sounds along the way.
     
  15. Funk U

    Funk U Platinum Record

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    I mix diagonally.
     
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