I was wondering if anyone could share any tips for mixing sound design with music, especially electronic music or trailer style where a lot of the frequency spectrum is already covered. I guess a lot of it comes to creating the right sounds that will work. I see a lot of trailers where the sound design really seems to jump out of the mix but whilst not sounding harsh / loud or over driven.

This is something I always struggle with. Would be great to hear some tips for mixing in this way.


5 Answers 5


It is always a challenge to mix sound design with heavy music. Try to find the frequencies in the music that really define the character of the track. Do the same on a case by case basis for the sound design. Then, at the points where the sound design is to take center stage, pull those frequencies out of the music. When the music takes center stage attenuate its defining frequencies from the sound design. It's not a cure all, but it definitely helps.

Also, if you can truncate some of the longer sounds in the sound design track so they punch and then quickly duck down or even go away it will help. Your brain will finish the sound while the music takes over.

Best of luck. Tony Friedman, Outpost Sound


Side chaining can be quite effective, the right sounds to cut through the mix and appropriate use of EQ to help them sit correctly.


it's detail work for sure. I haven't had good luck with sidechaining or other superquick volume rides on wide frequency music because you can always hear the pump.

Instead, I tend to do a lot of EQ automation on the music and on the effects to get them all to hit where you need them to hit.

Big music and big sfx hits can't effectively occupy the same moment. If there's a giant impact visual cut directly on the beat, you'd be amazed how much low end you can cut out of either the music or fx just for that quick moment to really make that design element pop.

Also, regarding sound design elements - midrange frequencies, mono sources (especially if you're , distortion, and pitch movement all cut through a mix waaaay better than stereo low frequency static pitch things.

Make your elements honk and buzz and shimmer and wiggle, and they'll rate. Make them thump and thud and they won't.

Arrangement is also key - if you can cut a frame or two out before a big impact it'll smack harder. If you can find musical passages that breakdown a bit during big sound design moments (even if only for 1 bar) that can help out a lot.

bob and weave, execute moment by moment.


Also think about the stereo space along with carving EQ when needed. You can automate a plugin like Brainworx Digital V2 or Waves Center to EQ the Mid and Side of the music track accordingly.


I had similar problems with Music and Speech in commercials since the new EBU R128 recommendation is out. So what I use often now -> Dynamic EQs

The way it works is the following: In music bass and highs are the thing that you really feel if it is gone. The Mids especially 800-3000 Hz is where the timbre, action, sound, melodies happen. Rhythmsections, bass and chords on the other hand are not that heavy in this frequency area.

So If you see Sound design like Lead instruments or speakers like singers of the song then it makes sense to reduce the monetary midfrequencys when such a sound is happening, whilst keeping the backbone of the track -> treble and bass.

With a dynamic EQ you have a very cheap solution to this problem just trigger a midband cut via the sound design/speech and it automatically ducks away the midrange whenever the sound is happening. For speech I also bring in notch filters with the dynamic EQ to remove strong lead guitars at 1500-2500 hz (the area they scream). Or you just automate an EQ to do this. BTW 3-6 dB of gainreduction are a good point to start. A lot more will make the effect too obvious.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.