Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

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Darksynth FX
KVRist
165 posts since 15 May, 2016 from Vienna

Post Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:57 am

Hoping that someone can help me with this problem I have since I started making music about 4 years ago:

In my instrumental tracks I struggle with the mixing levels of lead instruments (having not so much troubles with vocals, because they are easier to reference and distinguish from instruments). I always focus on beautiful, strong melodies and I know I have the tendency to mix my leads too loud because I love my melodies so much! ;) The problem is, because I am afraid that the leads are too loud, I often turn the levels down and the melody gets lost in the mix. It's difficult for me to find the sweet spot or even the range where it sounds fine.

Any tips on setting the levels right? I am also looking for reference tracks, like for example these:

https://youtu.be/QwqmJilXxJY

https://youtu.be/_OqSpYHlfVE

https://youtu.be/MhCj6ZS235k

Thank you in advance!
Female dark synth producer.
https://soundcloud.com/darksynth-fx

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Forgotten
KVRAF
4462 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

Post Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:49 am

You’ve answered your own question already - if you think it’s too loud but it’s lost when you turn it down, the level was OK.

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Darksynth FX
KVRist
165 posts since 15 May, 2016 from Vienna

Re: Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

Post Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:00 am

Forgotten wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:49 am
You’ve answered your own question already - if you think it’s too loud but it’s lost when you turn it down, the level was OK.
Well yes, I also know it's a matter of taste to a certain degree. But the problem is, I don't have a feeling for when the level is too loud.
Female dark synth producer.
https://soundcloud.com/darksynth-fx

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Forgotten
KVRAF
4462 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

Post Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:13 am

It’s really a matter of taste most of the time. However, it’s also dependent on dynamics and how you EQ all the tracks in the overall mix.

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andymcbain
KVRist
254 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Re: Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

Post Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:06 am

To me if the lead is drowning out another important element of the track, then it's too loud.

Which elements are more important is up to you. If it's a dance track then I certainly wouldn't want it obscuring the high percussion, for example. So I'd get it to the level where it seems slightly too loud then EQ it. A bit of a high shelf to leave room for the hi-hats, etc.

xandde1
KVRist
104 posts since 12 Nov, 2018

Re: Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

Post Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:33 am

I like to be as technical as possible when mixing, so I use a few different methods.

The first one is using a LUFS Meter to make sure that my main elements (kick, snare, bass...) are hitting about the same loudness. Vocals and lead instruments will probably require a bit more volume.

Tip: Hornet LUMeter has a nice auto-level feature.

After doing that and balancing every element of the song, I like to check the spectral response with an analyzer and ask myself: is there any frequency bump that I need to be concerned with?

Also, always compare your track to a level-matched reference.

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Darksynth FX
KVRist
165 posts since 15 May, 2016 from Vienna

Re: Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

Post Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:19 am

Thank you all for the tips!
Female dark synth producer.
https://soundcloud.com/darksynth-fx

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BertKoor
KVRAF
11275 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Lead instrument mixing level - any tips or references?

Post Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:20 am

Another tip: listen in your car while driving 100 kmh (60 mph) with a window a bit opened. Start with volume zero, slightly increase the volume.

What sound do you hear first get above the ambient noise? Is it just the lead? Then it might be too loud. Is it a couple of things at the same time? Nice balance! Is it only kick & bass? Then you suffer fro. bottom-end-fixation.

Can be done in the studio as well, play pink noise and mix in your track. Don't do it too loud!
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