So normally when working with a mix, I generally (or at least I was taught to) mix with the rhythm section first and work my way up. In recency however, I've been hearing that it's more advantageous to work the other way saving the low end for last aka starting with mid-high responsive tracks, and working towards the low later.

The advantages these people claim: Saves your listening accuracy for a lot longer Slows down listening fatigue Allows you to concentrate on the bulk of what makes the mix "good" while giving you freedom to tighten up the troublesome 200Hz - 1k areas.

In rooms that seem less than adequate for bass heavy mixes (most home studios), it seems that this direction would be better too...at least initially.

Naturally with everything creative of course "There are no rules" so working either way is a matter of preference, but I do believe in some forms of best practices in specifics situations, and if this could aid me in strengthening my stereo separation, then I would like to at least try it.

That said, can anyone vouch for this approach? What are the disadvantages of starting the mix with elements that aren't necessarily the focus point of the song? Does it "tend" to change the mix's focus over a prolonged period, or...well...does it just work? Lastly, would/does this approach work for bass heavy mixes and what other new problems may arise if any?

Thoughts please as I would like to try this on my next mix.

  • I start with drums first solely because the kick is almost always the most energetic / driving feature of the songs i mix. Setting the kick allows me a reference point for setting relative levels. That being said, your question has shared a new perspective with me. Thus "in pursuit of science" :P, I intend to bring the bottom end of my next mix in last, and refelect on my findings.
    – N.Balauro
    May 9, 2014 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


Thinking about my personal process, I normally alter my process based around what I'm mixing. For your typical rock mix, the drums form the foundation around which everything else is built, so I generally at least get them close, but then vocals and guitar are what people focus a lot of listening on, so I normally move to them pretty quickly once I have a general idea of the drums. I get them where I want and then go back to fine tune the drums.

I guess you could say I mix down, then up then down again. It works as a hybrid approach that maximizes the space I can give to the mid range, but also keeps a solid foundation built around the drums and bass.

That all said, if it is something other than a rock mix, that all goes out the window and I build from whatever the foundation of that musical style is. It really depends on what I'm mixing and the way the group sounds.

It is far more important to capture the sound and feel of the group well than it is to follow some particular pattern or process of mixing. Figure out what is important about the sound, figure out what needs to sound the best, what you need to focus on when and work from there based on your knowledge of your own abilities and limitations. As you alluded to, there is no right or wrong answer. It is a creative process and you need to figure out what works for you and the music you are mixing.

  • Proper answer. Let the music guide the mix. This topic spurs lots of psuedo-acoustic questions. I see this somewhere along the lines of: I have considered the creative aspect of this "music", now considering the way this finished product should sound, how do i most effectively apply the science of acoustics and human hearing/perception to my work routine to achieve this desired end result. eg: Am i able to more accurately perceive what I am hearing by doing it this way? Will this allow me to arrive at my finished product more quickly or efficiently?
    – N.Balauro
    May 9, 2014 at 20:59
  • @N.Balauro Exactly. It is art and science. Figure out what you need to do by art and how best to go about it by your knowledge of what has to happen to achieve that goal. It unfortunately doesn't fit a neat formula though.
    – AJ Henderson
    May 9, 2014 at 21:03

Well, nice question. It is all about personal taste, but did you think about this approach? 1,Make the static mix (just volume,panning) 2, Make a group channels for drums, guitars,vocals,and other instruments 3, Start with basic EQ and slight compressor changes on master fader to give mix quick "look" and global review (for you) in few minutes 4, Then go level down to all let's say Drum channel and again ... 5, End with the single tracks like kick,snare,dist.guitar and so Maybe you will be surprised how it could change the way of seeing mix and how it can save your time and give more complex review of the song. What do you think guys?

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