How to mix Black Metal (For beginners)

First of all I’m not a specialist, I’m just writing here how I mix my songs. If you record your own songs at home and you are a beginner then this article might help you.

Some say that you should not mess with the mix too much especially if you want a raw sound. But if you want to reduce the mud and glue things together to get a cleaner sound, then here are some tips.

In each channel in the mixer I have an equalizer and sometimes compressor and some reverb effects. I will get there later, now let’s focus on the equalizer.

If you have several plugins on a mixer entry the equalizer should be the first thing you want to touch so the output to the next plugin will get a more polished sound.

EQUALIZER

Bass

To make the bass to cut through a massive wall of guitars I boost somewhere around 60—70 Hz. I also boost a little bit around 1 Khz and at 1.5 Khz. This will make the bass visible on small speakers. I cut everything over 4 Khz completely to save space.

Guitars

On guitars I boost 5 Khz for brigthness. I cut gradually below 70 Hz and everything above 12 Khz. If you want you can go lower under 70 Hz but not to much to give the bass some space to live.

I also cut around 2 Khz (and also 1.5 Khz –  here we boosted previously the bass a little bit). 2-3 db should be enough.

Kick

First of all the drums should go in multiple channels in the mixer, the kick must have it’s own channel, snare on another one and so on. If you put all the drums in a single channel you will get a muddy sound and you will not be able to control everything.

After you set up your drums plugin to route in separate mixer channels, all these must be routed to a new channel (let’s call in „Drums” bus) and this channel will point to Master.

I boost the kick around 8 Khz for attack and 2.3 – 4.5 Khz for slap (2 – 5 Db – listen and see how much it will be ok). I also boost 50-70 Hz to add some low end. These frequencies will overlap with the bass. If you want you may sidechain the kick with the bass – this depends on what DAW are you using but you can find on google how to sidechain things in mixer.

You might also want to cut 150-350 Hz to eliminate the mud. Again, you have to listen and see how much you should cut.

Snare

I boost the snare at 8 Khz with few Db and also around 200 Hz to add some fatness to the snare. Boost at 2.5 Khz to add some „body” to the snare.

Toms

I boost 120-150 Hz (or 70-90 for floor tom) for boominess, 4.5 Khz and 8 Khz for attack. The same as we did on the kick, you can cut a little bit between 150-300 Hz to eliminate the mud. You should listen how your rack toms sounds within your song before cutting as the body of the tom sits between 240 and 500 Hz and maybe it would rather destroy the sound. I am also cutting between 700-900 Hz (do this only if you want a more modern sound).

Cymbals

I don’t touch cymbals too much here, if you want to add some clarity boost around 6 – 8 Khz.

Vocals

For vocals I boost 1 – 2.5 Khz to get the voice up-front. I also boost 8 Khz for brigthness and 12-14 Khz.

Master

At the end, in the master channel I cut everything under 40 Hz and over 17 Khz. If you want more sub-bass you can go even lower.

COMPRESSOR

I use a multi-band compressor for the master and for the drums. This multi-band compressor divide the frequency spectrum into multiple bands so it allows you to have individualized compression settings for each.

I find these compressors quite important with drums because the drums can have extremely sharp peaks on hits and with a compressor you can drop the volume when your audio gets louder.

You have to use your ear to set these up as it may ruin your sound. But overall try not to over-process and keep the gain reduction to no more than 2 db. If your compressor have presets, use them. Most of them should have presets for drums and don’t be embaressed for using pressets. This applies for other instruments as well. At least for beginning, you can tune them as you want once you will get more experience.

Other plugins

Besides Equalizer and Compressor I add some reverb on drums and voice. I use Fruity Reverb 2 (I am using Fruity Loops) but any reverb plugin should do the job.

Master

On master channel I have a limiter (Fruity Limiter), Fruity Stereo Enhancer and of course, another EQ where I cut some low and high frequencies to make room and make the sound louder (or at least I’m trying to get there).

Good luck! And share your opinions or questions in the comments!

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