Online Audio Music Mixing With Synthesizers
If you are new to online audio music mixing, you probably have heard several producers talking about synths. Some love old fashion synths while other producers swear by the digital age. So what exactly do you need to know when mixing online with synthesizers.
What is an audio mixing synthesizer?
A synthesizer is a piece of electronic music equipment that produces sound by combining audio channels. A synthesize comprises of four main parts;
These four elements are the building blocks of what we call a synth sound. Putting these elements together is like building a car. You start with the chassis as the foundation of the vehicle. Then you design a body that will fit on the chassis. Finally, you finish up with painting the car, adding the wheels, the windows and mirrors, and the interior.
The result is a beautiful car you get to drive and show off.
It is the same when creating a synth from scratch.
An oscillator is the foundation of your synth. It creates the base sound that is known as a sine wave. The only way to create a single sine wave is by using a computer. Once you create a sine wave, you can build harmonics onto it. Harmonics are additional frequencies that make your sine wave more colorful.
Filters work the same way as the equalizers on your DAW. An online mixing engineer uses filters to get rid of unwanted soundwaves in a synth. Filters comprise of;
- Low pass filters
- High pass filters
Low pass filters cut high-frequency sounds and only let low-frequency sounds pass through. If a synth sounds too high and piercing, cutting off some of the high frequencies will tone down the harshness.
In the same way, high pass filters block unwanted low-frequency sounds while allowing high-frequency sounds to pass through. If a synth sounds too bassy, cutting out some of the low frequencies adds more headroom for high-frequency sounds.
LFOs refers to low-frequency oscillators. Mixing engineers use them to create slow soundwaves. An example of this is adding a fade towards the end of a sound.
It is an acronym for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release. An attack refers to the time it takes for a sound to play. Setting a short attack time plays the sound immediately. Slowing the attack time makes the synth fade in gradually.
Decay refers to the time it takes for a sound to fade out. Sounds with shorter decay time fade out immediately. Sound with slower decay time fades out gradually. A cymbal has a short decay time whereas an electric guitar has a slower decay time.
Sustain refers to volume the synth maintains after the first attack. Sustain only affects the volume of a synth while the rest of the ADSR affects the length.
'Release' refers to the time it takes for a synth to fade out when you press and release a key. Sounds with a slow-release fade gradually once you release the key. Sounds with a short release die immediately when you release a key.
Choosing the best synthesizer for online audio music mixing
Buying a synthesizer requires careful planning. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional online audio music mixing engineer, getting the right synthesizer makes or breaks the quality of your timbre.
Before we get to the Dos, let’s first discuss the Don’ts;
- Do not buy a synthesizer in a hurry. Purchasing the wrong synthesizer will only lead to buyer's remorse.
- Do not follow hype when choosing a synthesizer that suits you. Even if an online audio mixing engineer recommends the product, do your research first.
Buy what you need
Synthesizers have a variety of features. Some synthesizers have general features that suit many applications. Then there are synthesizers with features tailored for specific tasks. Determine what features you need before buying a synthesizer. It prevents you from buying more gear, in the future, to compensate for missing features in your synthesizer.
Buy from a good brand
As mentioned before, you are spending your hard-earned cash buying a synthesizer. Do your research and find out the best synthesizer brands on the market. If you are getting a secondhand one, ensure that the seller is reputable as well. Getting a warranty for the second option is better.
Test the product first
Buying your first or second synthesizer is like buying a car. You want to test drive it first to ensure that everything checks. If you are buying from a store, spend a little time with the synthesizer to understand its inner workings. When buying online, identify the best websites that sell synthesizers. Find out what other customers are saying about their products before you proceed with the purchase. Watch a couple of review videos on the specific product you want to discover more about its features.
Can you use it?
Purchase a synthesizer if you are confident that you will be able to use it. Modern digital synthesizers are a lot easier to learn than vintage ones. Start simple if it is your first time in online audio music mixing. Once you understand how synthesizers function, then you can move to an advanced model with complex features.
But there is nothing wrong with buying vintage synthesizers. If you have the patience and time, you can unlock great features on your analog synthesizer that will transform your end sound. Buy modern synthesizers with advanced features if you will be willing to learn as you go.
Consider your DAW set up
Will your chosen synthesizer fit your DAW setup. Is it an easy plug and play piece of equipment or you need more accessories to connect it? As a beginner in online audio mixing, get a synthesizer that is compatible with your simple setup first. Avoid buying synthesizers that require additional, often pricey, gear to get it to work.
Wrapping It up
Synthesizers are a worthy investment in your journey as an online audio mixing engineer. Find out how synthesizers work then take your time to explore the best synthesizers out there. Buy a synthesizer that is easy to use and can fit in your home or online mixing studio setup.