How to mix – free guide from iZotope

izotope mixing fullBecause of the wonder that is the internet, there are lots of great sources you can turn to for free information on almost any topic (er….  like the various iOS music making blogs) but, sometimes, what you really want is the convenience offered by having all the key information on a topic in a single, concise resource. And, old fashioned as it may seem, books (a tried and trusted format!) do that pretty well.  And the electronic book – document, PDF, Kindle or iBook – even manages to bring it into the digital era :-)

If you are new to the recording process – whether under iOS or in some other format – one topic that can be a real challenge is mixing; taking those (hopefully) well recorded individual instrument and vocal tracks that, one their own actually sound pretty good, and stopping them from turning into complete mush when you try to combine them together. Mixing is most certainly a skill that has to be worked at and, like any skill, the more you do it, (usually) the better you get at it. However, while there are no ‘rules’ that can be applied to every mix, there are some basic concepts that can be applied which, if you keep in mind, can help you improve your mixing.

Mixing with iZotope

And, rather generously, those wonderful people at iZotope – makers of some rather excellent desktop music software such as Ozone and Alloy – have taken the ‘basic concepts of mixing’ and put them into a concise PDF book format that they are giving this away for free via their website. The book – titled ‘Mixing with iZotope‘ – covers topics such as setting levels, the use of EQ, dynamics, using the stereo image, time-based effects (reverb, delay, etc.), distortion and then suggests some approaches for building your mix by looking at drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals before finishing with some comments on song structure and generating your final stereo output format.

Of course, all the way through the book are examples of how you can use iZotope’s own software tools to perform and improve the mixing tasks described in the text but don’t let that distract you; this is a seriously useful read and even the somewhat more seasoned recording musician will, I’m sure, find a few useful pointers to think about.

Mastering with Ozone

izotope mastering fulliZotope’s mixing guide is a fairly recent production. However, you you like the idea of that guide, the company also have a long-standing guide available that covers the equally challenging process of mastering your audio. This was updated during 2013 and is based around their Ozone mastering plugin.

Ozone is a very powerful tool but, as with the mixing guide, the ‘Mastering with Ozone‘ guide is both free to download and contains a really useful summary of the principles involved in mastering. This covers topics such as getting your mix right first, mix problem diagnosis, what mastering is for, the tools required for mastering, using EQ, dynamics, maximizing, reverb, stereo imaging and exciters in the mastering process and why metering is useful. There is all a short section of ‘tips from the pros’.

While Ozone does, of course, feature heavily in the guide, you could take the information provided here and apply it to any combination of software (or hardware) tools used for mastering. So, if you use something like Igor Vasiliev’s Audio Mastering app on your iPad for your own DIY mastering, there will be some very useful pointers you can easily take from the iZotope guide and translate into the feature set of Audio Mastering.

Hats of to iZotope for making these resources available. Yes, they are, in one sense, promotional platforms for their own software but, because of the way the material is presented – with a focus on the general principles – they do read much more like a ‘mixing 101’ or ‘mastering 101’ course than a sales brochure.  Both a very useful read if you want to get your mixing or mastering up to speed and both are free with no purchase necessary. Just follow the links and grab your own copy.

Mixing with iZotope free guide can be downloaded here.

and the

Mastering with Ozone free guide can be downloaded here.


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    1. Chris Catalano says:

      That is great, John!

      Anyone involved in mixing music should give this a go. It is clear, concise, and loaded with excellent real world information about the art and science of working with EQ, Dynamics, Time Based stuff, stereo imaging, all the critical stuff that needs to be understood, at the very least sonically.

      This PDF is not Izotope specific, but I have nothing but respect for these guys, as their price to value, degree of innovation, gorgeous visual aesthetic is so consistently high. Thanks for a fantastic freebie.
      May have to invest a little more in some Ozone…

      • Hi Chris…. I used Ozone for a number of years. It is powerful and flexible… it can produce some wonderful results but, equally, really mash a mix if you are not careful. I’ve experienced this more than a few times myself – thinking I’d ‘nailed’ it only to send the mix to a client and have them really not like like it. It’s not the tool itself though – just to doofus in front of the computer using it (that’s me then) :-) I’ve also recently tried Nectar (a suite of vocal processing options for Mac/PC) and that is also very powerful stuff…. These freebie guides are, however, worth a read whatever platform you make your music on…. best wishes, John

    2. Chris Catalano says:

      I switched to Mac in 2008, and migrated some PC stuff to another partition (so long deleted I cannot even remember what the setup was called!) One piece of software I always loved was Wavelab. Now that there is a Mac version, I have thought about getting it again, because it worked so well for me, and I LOVED the editing features, and the way I could just plop bits of wave files into other wave files and create these great audio montages.

      I do most stuff in Logic 9 now, but the Mastering options for Apple are not cheap…I still plunk things down into my old PC Laptop into Wavelab, but PIA.

      My excuse for now echoes your thoughts to some degree: Mastering is overrated! (In truth, I just think it does get overdone, over thought about, but mostly just by me, I guess)

      Excited by the Positive Grid App, but I bet that for a so called Mastering app, there won’t be much in the way of editing. Is it just me, or do these guys overhype their products a little. Sorry, John, still a bit turned off the way the IAA thing went, and also lack of Universality for Bias. A bit confused, that bunch, from the ground up, IMO…They will learn, as the products are obviously high quality.

      • Hi Chris…. I’m running Wavelab on an iMac…. it’s a pretty powerful piece of software.

        Mastering is most definitely a skill that takes some learning (and I haven’t got there yet). It is also a very good example of ‘less is more’ until you really (REALLY) know what you are doing and you have a very accurate monitoring environment so you can judge exactly what the processing is doing to your audio. All that said, apps like Audio Mastering give you the tools to do the processing – and you can’t really blame the tools if what really sucks is your own judgement in using them :-) I get ‘fooled’ so regularly by my own ears in this context….

        It will certainly be interesting to see (hear) what the PG Mastering app brings to the table…..

        best wishes, John

    3. Jayson Vein says:

      Wow, these how to’s on Mixing and Mastering are incredible! Thanks for the heads up on them. I’m learning a lot of things I didn’t know about, for sure.

      • Hi Jayson… glad they are helping. There is some good stuff out there if you know where to look :-) best wishes, John

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