I wanted to start a thread discussing techniques and tips for mixing songs in the OP-Z. Since we don’t have any real way of multi tracking (other than rendering one track at a time) I’m assuming most people are simply recording the line out of the OP-Z for their finished tracks. That means all the mixing is happening within the unit itself.
Now, don’t get me wrong, when constrained to 8 tracks of audio, the two engine controls, the bi-polar filter, and volume control can go a long way when mixing. Still, everyone is at a different skill level when it comes to mixing and the thought process of getting a “good” mix can go out the door when just trying to sound design. Since the OP-Z has a set number of “mixing” functions, I thought it a good idea to start sharing tips and techniques for mixing. I’ll start:
- Arrange with mixing in mind.
If you have a pattern going and it is feeling muddy, take a listen to where each track is located the frequency spectrum (low, low mids, upper mids, highs, etc.) Maybe you don’t need that low root note in your chord track since the bass track is already playing that. Maybe you can shift the arp track up an octave and darken the sound with the engine controls or filter. If you have one synth sound that is super dark and mid-heavy, layer in something more airy and thin. When you have too many sounds occupying the same frequency space, they start canceling each other out, causing problems, and overall ending up muddy. This is called frequency masking. When this happens you lose the clarity that each part brings to the song.
- Always use the filters.
The filters are the closest thing you have to EQ on the OP-Z. They can be a great tool to fight frequency masking. If you have a track where you aren’t using the filter in a sound design way, you might want to use it to help the mix. Simply high-passing sound that doesn’t need a lot of low end will help bring clarity to the kick and bass sounds. Conversely, say you have a bass or kick patch that is very mid heavy, but not enough low sub. You can high pass the track ever so slightly, but bring the resonance up to act as a EQ boost to whatever frequency you have it set to. You could also use this on a pad. Maybe you don’t need a bunch of low end on the pad, but you want more mids. High pass with some resonance until you get the mids popping out.
- Mix sound in context of the whole track
We all do it… We’re trying to get that perfect lead, snare, or kick sound, so we solo that track and get it sounding perfect. But when we put it back in the mix, it doesn’t always sit right. It’s fine to do some sound designing in solo, to make sure you have the sound you are looking for, but always mix and refine that sound in context of the whole song. You can turn the volume of the track way up so you can hear it better, but keep the rest of the song in your ears so you can hear how it is interacting with everything else. This goes back to point #1.
- Be careful of low end
This is more a general mixing tip, not specific to the OP-Z. Low end is awesome, it’s what hits us in the chest, it’s what brings the energy to a song. Or is it? In most contexts, it’s not the lowest sub frequency that we hear when we think “man that kick hits so hard,” or “wow, that bass line is deep!” We are often hearing the second or third sets of harmonics. On top of that, most playback systems are using a massive subwoofer that can push a 30 Hz tone, so you are hearing the 60 Hz. Because of all this, it can often be too easy to push the low end much louder than it needs to be and will just lead to a boomy track.
What are some of your tips for mixing in the confines of the OP-Z?