10 KEY POINTS TO PROPERLY DELIVER YOUR SONG TO YOUR MIXING ENGINEER (even if that's you!)
Updated: Jul 27
Ever since I started mixing, I always felt that the transition from production to mixing was a challenging step, whether I was the one mixing my own production or when an artist wanted to hire me.
And let's be honest, anyone who has reached the point of exporting a production for mixing has eventually made a mistake of forgetting a track, or an instrument was not lining up with the rest of the song and much more. I have been there!
Since many of the questions and concerns regarding this topic seemed to be the same across the board, I eventually concluded that it would be a good idea to create a short blog post with some essential points to check before moving on to the mixing phase.
Here are my 10 key points to follow before moving to the mix phase:
Save As: before exporting anything, you should do a “save as” of your session because you will probably change some levels, print virtual instruments, etc. during the exporting process. It is always safer to “save as” and label your export session “songtitle_bounce” or “songtitle_export.” This way, your production and/or rough mix sessions will still be there unchanged.
Pitch and time correction: any pitch and time editing should be done prior to the mix phase. These are artistic decisions rather than technical decisions that are part of the production process. These should be handled by the producer and/or the artist. Don’t leave this to the mixer.
Labeling: give proper names to your individual tracks. No mixer wants to receive files called “Audio 01”, “Audio 02” and have to do the work of listening to and labeling them one by one.
No effects: deactivate all the effect plugins on each individual track unless they are distinctly a part of the sound.
Export range: export all the tracks within your DAW session from the same starting point. This is crucial as it guarantees that all your tracks will be played back in sync when the mixer imports them into their mixing session. I usually use the loop playback function to create a play range for exporting and keep the start and ending point the same throughout the entire export process.
Beginning and ending: be sure to set your starting point early enough to not have any transients cut off. Your exporting endpoint should be far enough from the end of the song. Otherwise, it could result in cutting off reverb tails, sustain of cymbals, guitar, bass, etc. Leave enough room for all the tracks to fade out naturally.
Proper level: export tracks at -18DBFS on average. If it occasionally peaks at -6DBFS, don’t worry. A good rule of thumb is to aim for the meter of your track to just slightly touch the yellow. Be careful with transient-heavy instruments such as drums, percussions, vocals, as they tend to have high peaks.
File format and sample rate: export all the tracks as .WAV files at 96kHz/48kHz/44kHz (sample rate) (whatever your session is set up at) and 24 bit (32 bit works as well, but the files are larger). Don’t export at 16 bit and never use MP3 files.
Tempo: include the tempo of the song (if the project was recorded to a click) in the title of the master folder to which all the tracks will be exported. You could also put the tempo in the title of the rough mix file.
Provide a rough mix: the rough is very important because it provides the mixer with an overall idea of the balance between all the instruments, the panning, as well as the fundamental ambiance and vibe of your song. It also showcases your artist’s creative intention. The mixer should improve upon this rough mix, emphasizing its key elements and moves.
These 10 key points are the most essential ones.
For a more in-depth look at this topic, you can download my free eBook:
"Get The Most Out Of Your Mixer“.
This simple guide clearly explains how to export your tracks in detail, as well as the mindset you should have when sending your song to your mixing engineer, even if it is you!
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY: