I've recorded voices for a good time now and I am currently learning how to mix.

First question about mixing I have is:

What is your sequence?

Do you level the voices and balance the effects and music off of them? This is the most common sequence I have heard.

What do you spend the most time on in mixing? Voices, FX, music?

When you work with a team, do you all mix at the same time? I.E. together in the same room and rolling through a reel at a time doing rides? Or do you work separately and marry it up later?

Sorry if these are newb questions but I'm trying to learn on a long runway before I take off.

3 Answers 3


Hey Ryan,

A lot of this depends on the scale of the project and the size of the crew / facilities being used. Here, we generally have 3 or 4 people doing pre mixes. One doing backgrounds, one doing effects, and another doing dialogue. Sometimes we'll have a 4th doing sound design / special fx stuff. Generally the music gets to us mixed, or at least in pre-mix stems, so we usually don't touch it until re-recording.

Once all of those parts are done, they get mixed down into stems and send to our re-recording mixers. We usually use 2. One handles Dialogue and rides the music stem, the other does backgrounds and effects. If music is broken out into a larger mix instead of a stem, we'll have a music mixer too.

Generally what happens is that one guy will be working on his pass for a section (let's say the dialogue mixer is doing his thing) and he controls the transport and all. While this is going on, the fx mixer might be getting general levels, but won't really be doing much fine tuning. When the dialogue mixer is done his section, he'll print it and then the fx mixer will do his fine tuning. We usually operate like this, back and forth for a while, until the project is done.

Things might speed up and we might try to get FX and DX mixing at the same time if we're really in a crunch.

As far as order, we really don't do things in a specific order really, but we do try to make sure dialogue gets the main focus. It often doesn't get mixed first though.

Does this help at all? Let me know if you want me to expand on anything

  • Hey! Great answer! How do the premixers know what level to mix the premixes at? Do you have a standard set level for that type of thing? Are you often referencing to earlier mixes you have done? And for the re-recording, how much fine-tuning do they do? Is that where the artistic ideas come in or do they get done way earlier? For example, is it the re-recording mixer who says "I want to fade all sound out to nothing and have a moment of silence here" or has that already been done earlier? I guess I just need more experience - while I write my questions I realize it depends on a lot of things.
    – Utopia
    Aug 11, 2010 at 17:33
  • And, pardon me for so many questions, do the FX and Dia premixers ever hear a rough mix of the music to know where the big hits are and how they should balance against it? Do you always get the music mixed before any premixing gets done (Dia and FX?) How does that whole thing work?
    – Utopia
    Aug 11, 2010 at 17:36
  • The premixes don't have a whole lot of level adjustment. Most of the faders are just set to unity. When doing sound design stuff, levels are set for the assets within a specific sound, but then once the sound is "bounced" or printed, the resulting sound file is just left at unity. All of the levels are pretty much set at the re-record. The fine tuning that is done at the pre-mix is usually something the editor will do to achieve a certain effect. The fine tuning that the re-recording mixers do is often to help sounds find their sonic home.
    – Colin Hart
    Aug 11, 2010 at 17:53
  • Also, most of the fine tuning is left to the stage since it is the most accurate reproduction of the sound. You don't want to be doing a whole lot of fine tuning on speakers (or worse, headphones) that don't translate to your final project!
    – Colin Hart
    Aug 11, 2010 at 17:54
  • As far as artistic ideas and all. Some of those are done at the premix level, some are done on the stage. I would say most are done at the premix level. Some ideas just don't manifest themselves until they are on the stage. There really aren't any rules on this stuff. It comes down to down your editorial and directoral teams like to work.
    – Colin Hart
    Aug 11, 2010 at 17:58

I always work from the back to the front... Atmos first and work my way to the things that should be in the front last. Not sure why I do it that way, but it's the way I've always done things.

  • Dave - cool. I have heard this answer often, too. Do you have a standard level you put stuff at? (like in music you start with the kick-drum around -5dB?) Just curious how you build it without going over proper levels in the end.
    – Utopia
    Aug 11, 2010 at 17:02
  • I don't. With music, I start with kick and snare, and I mix both of those 'til they're almost peaking. Then I mix everything to that. With atmos, it's exactly the opposite -- I mix it to the lowest level possible, where I can still hear all the detail. Maybe it's inexperience and something I never picked up, or something that just doesn't click with me, but I can never think of things in terms of dB or hrz. AFTER I do something, I can recognize it, but I can't think of the super technical side of things before hand. Aug 11, 2010 at 17:32

I normally start a show by just having the dialogue and mixing that first. a) it's the most important part of a TV show and b) it enables me to focus on it and things like meters (PPM or LM100).

I then bring in all the rest (music, fx, foley, footsteps, atmos). I find it quite a quick way to mix too, a 10 minute show normally takes me an hour to do my dialogue premix (which would include automating all the reverbs and effects), then around 3/4 hours for the rest.

One thing I would say is that this is a general workflow I created myself for the animated shows I work on, no-one else at my workplace does it like this and it's another thing I'm frowned upon for doing.

  • Thanks for sharing, Ian. Hey, tell those other co-workers of yours that if it works for you, back off. As Bruce Swedien says, "I don't care if you have to turn the knob around backwards. If it sounds good, it sounds good."
    – Utopia
    Aug 11, 2010 at 17:45
  • Never pay too much attention to what people say anyway. I came into the company with a few years freelance behind me where everyone else they've employed came straight from college so I quickly got a reputation for doing things my own way and not the company way. Fight the system!!!!
    – ianjpalmer
    Aug 12, 2010 at 8:22

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