Best Mixing Presets

Best Mixing Presets


In this article, I’ll tell you about the universal preset that will make your track sound perfect at a high industry level. It might be an eye-opening article for you, and some of you might even hate me for what I’m going to say, but I’ll say it anyway, so keep reading.

What is a mixing preset?

Best Mixing Presets-photo 1Mixing presets are ready-made settings for audio processing that you can use while mixing for plugins like EQ, compression, reverb, saturation, and others to easily achieve a certain type of sound for your instrument or vocal track. Different preset packs are available for vocals, guitars, pianos, and other instruments.

You may hear that a certain preset pack for a specific mixing chain will make your vocals sound like those of a top-chart artist. Or if another preset is used to mix a guitar, it will sound like the guitar sounds in hits from a famous rock band.

Different drum and bass mixing presets are also very popular because these tracks form the groove and the basis for a song, so everyone wants these instruments to sound particularly well.

But how often do these presets really work and bring you the sound you have in mind? It’s obvious that the output sound depends as much on the processing settings as on the multiple parameters of the input signal. Keep reading and we’ll find out.

What is the best mixing preset?

What is the best mixing preset is a very popular question, and many artists ask me about this golden preset. Some clients, after I mix a song for them and they like my work, ask about the plugins and the settings that I used. They think there is a certain preset they can learn which will help them mix every song perfectly.

Also, talking about magic settings, there are a lot of advertisements online for some vocal presets that make you sound like a certain artist, or presets that “help you sound professional.” You may have to pay a certain price to get them or some of them may be free. And now, reading this article, you probably are searching for particular plugin settings that will help you mix your track and make it sound top-chart level like major artists.

What’s wrong with vocal presets?

Best Mixing Presets-photo 2First, let’s take, for example, vocal presets that are supposed to make you sound like a certain celebrity. Even if you got the preset, it’s very probable that it will not work well with your recording. Why wouldn’t it work? First of all, your timbre is different, your recording conditions are different, and the recording equipment is different. How loud you are singing and the recording volume is different. A lot of things may vary. Even the song’s key and other musical characteristics will influence the recorded sound a lot.

Each of these things I mentioned can make the preset you will be relying on useless because it won’t match your signal. Even if we suppose that you have access to the studio where your favorite artist is recording their hits and you can use their mic with all the recording settings, it still has a very thin chance to work.

Best Mixing Presets-photo 3Compression in mixing presets

There is a huge issue with vocal presets, especially with compression and similar processing. The compression depends on the level of the input signal, and you don’t know the characteristics of the original input signal of the artist’s vocal recording. If your recording has different parameters, the compression, even with the same settings, will give completely different results.

Presets are constantly changing

Artists don’t use the same recording and mixing settings for every song, they are constantly evolving to incorporate new ideas or keep up with changing music industry trends. Vocalists constantly improve their singing style, recording and mixing. That’s why even if the preset worked one time, very soon it will become outdated. The artist you are trying to copy will find a better sound as the trends in the industry change. And the preset you were planning to apply will become useless.

The bottom line: there’s no such thing as a magic preset. This article could have been finished at this point, but it’s not that simple. Although there is no universal preset that can help with every mix, there still are some tips and ideas I want to share that will help you improve your mixing process. So, let’s talk about what you can do.

What does a professional approach to mixing look like?

The professional approach to mixing is completely different from using someone else’s ready-made settings. Professional mix engineers listen to the mix and understand what sound they want to achieve for a song. After that, they use plugins to shape the song into the sound they have in mind.

Do every mixing step with purpose

Professional mix engineers know exactly why they use the plugins and how they are going to change the sound of the mix into the desired shape. Every plugin and every setting is applied with purpose, and the engineer knows how exactly this or that setting will help shape the song.

That’s why professionals will never use presets because this will not help them create the sound they aim for.

Let’s look at the simplest example of such mixing. For example, the vocal recording is a bit dark. And you want the resulting vocal part in the mix to be bright. You use an equalizer and make the vocal part as bright as you decided it should be. As you see, it’s much simpler to produce such changes without the use of any presets.

    Looking for a High-Quality Sound for your song?

    Can you create a unique song with someone else’s mixing presets?

    Well, this is another interesting question. Of course, each song is different, but if you aim at being different, if you want your fans to recognize your work by your sound traits, then you have to think carefully before copying other artists’ mixer channel presets.

    The way to build a successful career in the music world

    You know that the most success get the tracks that are original and unique. Would you like people to say about your song that it sounds just like the old one from another artist? Or would you like them to recognize your work?

    Check the top hits; it’s rare when a song that is similar to an old hit gets to the top of billboards. Yes, there is a marketing strategy when big labels create a new artist’s image similar to another successful artist. And sometimes it works, but remember, those are big labels and they invest a lot of money into such projects and have well-developed business strategies. And also they can allow some projects to slip and fail; they have plenty of other shots. But it’s not how it works for independent artists.

    As an independent artist, your success depends on your individuality, on your ability to create a unique recognizable image and new ideas. You need to create something that hasn’t appeared in the industry before. People already know the sound of the popular hit you are trying to copy using presets, and they will not be too excited to hear your song. It’s much better to create something new which will draw people’s attention and curiosity. It will not be boring for the listener and will be contributing to the progress of the whole music industry.

    By the way, if you wish to learn more about how to create your personal image, write unique new songs and grow your career, read my article How to get signed by a record label.

    A real-life example

    Best Mixing Presets-photo 4In my own career as a mixing engineer, I started mixing by trying to copy reference tracks as precisely as I could. Many engineers use this approach for mixing, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I was just trying to match all the parameters of the song I was mixing with the reference track. I understood that if the track had gained super high popularity, then copying its parameters while mixing similar tracks would bring another super hit.

    Such a way of mixing in the career of an engineer is necessary for training and learning, you also can use different mixer presets or mastering presets for learning, grab a preset pack, use them for beats or drop, piano, instrumentals, kicks and snares, you name it. However, the real hits you can produce only when you start using your skills and experience to create something new and unique. When your songs are different from others, not only with melodies, but with how they sound it’s a great sign.

    It’s also worth noting that in copying the reference tracks in mixes I created, I still wasn’t able to reproduce the parameters exactly as they were in the references because every song is different.

    Then I started to mix tracks according to my unique vision as a mix engineer. My vision is built on my experience and knowledge that I gained working on big projects in the industry. I try to understand the idea and the uniqueness of every track I mix and make the best of it. And now I use reference tracks to check loudness levels, to see industry trends, but I don’t copy reference tracks anymore, don’t try to make new songs sound as references. And when I started to mix songs this way, to create an original sound, to bring each song to its best unique version, my career as a mix engineer started to grow rapidly. And I can say that every engineer, artist, or producer will reach much more success when they create innovative and unique projects.

    How to streamline your mixing work and save your time

    Considering all that I explained here, I can say that presets won’t help your music production. It’s much more convenient to use your own settings than to use presets, and they won’t grow your popularity. All the presets you can find on YouTube or other platforms can only satisfy your curiosity but will not help you grow much. Moreover, if you stay too long using someone else’s presets, it will hinder your growth.

    Mixing templates

    However, there is something you can do to simplify and facilitate your mixing work. It’s mixing templates. If you prepare your standard mixing session as a template, this template will not affect the sound of the mix but it will create a starting point for mixing and will simplify your mixing process a lot.

    Best Mixing Presets-photo 5In my mixing template, I have buses for drums, bass, accompaniment, FX, lead vocals, back vocals, and so on. And my favorite plugins are already added to tracks. This way, I don’t have to search for the plugins that I use all the time; they are all here. However, these plugins don’t have special presets, they are just ready for me to choose whatever settings I find necessary for the song. Each plugin is at the initial settings, and I can set it up for the track very easily. You don’t have to drag the sound through some strange preset first, you choose the settings you want.

    What’s on my drum bus in the template? It makes sense for me to have here the compressors that I most often use on drums. It’s tape machine emulators, then a slow compressor, then there is an API compressor which is a bit faster, then I have another more aggressive compressor, then some more tools. By the way, having all these plugins on the drum bus doesn’t mean that I will necessarily use all of them for each song. In one session I may use some of them and others in another session. And the settings will be different each time.

    I can also have sidechain compression in the template, or parallel compression, and the send track will be ready to use and side-chain. All this saves my time and helps me quickly shape the sound according to what I have in mind.

    The same way, plugins that I often use are added to all the buses: to accompaniment, bass, and other channels. I add my favorite equalizers, effects, and other.

    You can make your mastering templates as well

    Not only for mixing but also I do it for mastering. On the master bus, I have a bunch of plugins that I use often. Again, I don’t use them all on one track as you understand, I may use one selection or another, what I see necessary for each particular track.

    I recommend you create similar templates for yourself in your DAW, whatever DAW you use: Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Nuendo, Cubase, FL Studio, or other. It will save you lots of time and make your work easier. These templates are not presets of course, but believe me, this is as close to using presets as it should get to create a unique and innovative mix.

    A perfect way to get an industry level mix

    Of course, there is a super-easy way for you to get a top-quality mix. This way, you don’t have to spend months or even years practicing mixing until you can create a good mix. I’m talking about reaching out to our studio.

    Seriously, we have professional mix engineers who have more than a decade of experience, have worked on big industry projects, and know all the trends and secrets of today’s music. They can make the perfect mix for your song within just 3 days. With our help, you can start growing your career as an artist from this very moment.

    Contact us now! You can even get free consulting, which is very useful. So, don’t struggle, just contact our Major Mixing studio today.