In this post, you will get one guaranteed trick to mix your EDM leads successfully. And it’s much easier than you might think.
The problem with mixing leads
The biggest mixing problem most people have is the ability to mix a lead properly. If that’s you, you always end up with a mix where the lead gets overpowered by the kick or vice versa. Or even worse, the lead gets totally smashed.
Though, in your efforts to make it work, you may try to enhance the volume of the lead, yet it only seems to make things worse. Inevitably, the mix always ends up being too muddy and out of balance. So, how the heck can you fix this?
Today, we will discover exactly what the problem is and how to fix that. So, take a seat and make sure to read until the end as you don’t want to miss any important tips coming up.
How to mix leads properly: identify the problem
First, you must identify where the problem comes from. You see, an EDM lead is usually quite fat. It has a bunch of harmonics (aka musical frequencies), especially when you play chords.
If you want to learn more about chords and harmonics, start now with The Ultimate Melody Guide.
The problem arises though when you throw the lead into your mix where it meets other instruments. Just like the lead, these instruments also fight for attention and need to have the space to do so. So, these different instruments may clash and work against each other, of course resulting in a bad mix.
Mixing the lead with the kick
Now, when we talk about the mix in EDM, the biggest so-called “headroom” eater, is the kick. This is due to the nature of its purpose, which is filling out the lower frequencies in the spectrum. The lower frequencies are very crucial. Too little and your mix sounds weak. Too many and your mix is ruined.
Ultimately, it’s your job to mix the lead in a way that it allows the kick to excel. Else, these two will simply always clash. So, let’s find out how to fix that.
How to mix leads properly: use a high-quality kick
Now, in order to fix the lead’s mixing problem, you FIRST have to make sure you are using a high-quality kick-drum with a tight sub bass. Else, no matter how good your mixing skills are, it’s practically impossible to get it to sound right.
If you don’t have high-quality kick samples yet, don’t worry, you can start by downloading my free hardstyle sample pack. Just click the link to start your download now.
Once your kick is powerful, tight and of good quality, naturally, it will be much easier to get a nice mix. That’s already a big plus, but now you have to make room for the kick so that it CAN actually breathe. Because if you don’t, your song will still end up being too muddy and you find yourself having to sacrifice the lead or the kick being pushed towards the background.
How to mix leads properly: EQ the lead correctly
The way to fix this is really simple. And I mean, really really simple. All you need to do to make room for the kick to breathe, is filter out the lower frequencies of your lead when they play together in your mix. And the easiest way to do that is by using an equalizer.
Simply, send your lead to a free mixer track and add an equalizer to one of the available slots. Then, use the equalizer to shape the frequency-balance of the lead. In this case, we want to remove the lower frequencies from the lead. Let me show you how to do that.
Low cut your lead
Obviously, you can do that in many different ways and it always depends on how it sounds together with the kick. So, the best way is to use a low cut (or high pass) band on the equalizer and change the cutoff frequency while listening to your mix.
Usually, but depending on the EDM genre, I found the best results somewhere between 130 and 180 Hz. You can use that as a guideline, but don’t see it as a cut-in-stone rule. Because it’s not.
Furthermore, you may also want to play around with the steepness of the band, whereby the steepness dictates the “gradualness” (is that a word?) of the frequencies being cutout. For me personally, I found a default 12 decibel slope working well. But it depends a little bit on the type of lead and mix.
Help! My lead sounds weaker now…
Now, by doing all this you may ask: “but Cep, if I cut out the lower frequencies from my lead, it starts to sound a bit weaker in the break of my song. What about that?”
Well, the answer is also really simple here: just add a bass type of sound underneath your lead. This will automatically fill up the bass-spectrum. But when the kick starts, stop playing the bass layer as the lower frequencies in the kick will take over. And that’s basically all there is to it.
If you’re curious about making a fat EDM lead yourself, simply get the Supersaw FL Studio instruction guide. This is a special booklet I’ve written to give you a quick step-by-step tool to create your own fat supersaw lead in FL Studio. Check it out!
How to mix leads properly: summary
So, to recap; by cutting away the lower frequencies, the lead opens up. This allows the kick to punch through if you will, but it also enables the lead to fall over the kick nicely, without them crushing each other.
Consequently, you may also want to use this strategy with other instruments in your mix. However, ALWAYS use your ears and judge it based on how it sounds.
Of course, there are many more mixing tricks you need to know, but for now, give this one a shot first and let’s see how that works out for you.
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