LCR mixing in Hip-Hop
Last Post 30 May 2012 08:31 PM by Pompey Productions. 15 Replies.
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Mach6Kid

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    23 May 2012 01:39 PM

    I was speaking with a local DJ where I live, and he was giving me some mixing tips for some of my tracks. He suggested I give LCR mixing technique's a try. I read up on it, and I kind of get the idea of what's trying to be acheived, but I'm still a lil in the dark. 

    Does/has anyone used LCR mixing technique's in their mixe's? And if so, could you please elaborate on some things you do in your mixes or when do you actually apply LCR techniques?

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    QuickSkimper

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    24 May 2012 08:47 PM
    I haven't heard of this technique, but once I googled it I realized that I have used it before... It seems like a styelistic choice... there are many times where it's appropriate to pan things less than hard (actually, most times). However, hard panning does make the track extremely wide and more "intricate/clear." As long as you balance things out, it should giver you a nice, spread out mix. What I mean is... your kick, snare & bass will be dead center, so that's already balanced, but all your other parts ie, leads, high hats & other percussion will be panned hard left & hard right... you need to balance each one. For example, if you have a hat panned hard left, put a reverb on it panned hard right. If you have a synth panned hard right, put a delay effect on it panned hard left.

    Personally, I doubt any one of my mixes will ever be purely Left Center Right, but it's a good tool to use when you need clarity or width.
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    Mach6Kid

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    25 May 2012 08:05 AM
    I understand what your saying about making sure the mix is balanced. But what other part's would be panned hard left or right. For instance, if i was making say, a trap beat. Would I pan my low brass on way, and my higher brass another? Or if I'm making a very synth oriented hip-hop track. Would I pan my synth pad's and many of my other leads?

    -I understand that things like bass, kick, snare would be dead center. I read somewhere that there's a reason why there's no point in panning them.

    But another thing is, when you said having a hat panned one way, and putting a reverb effect on it panned to the right. Or having synth panned one way, with a delay effect on it panned the other way. Why have the effect panned another way? And is it neccessary to add some type of effect to a sound when LCR mixing to help get the balance, or is that just for example?
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    Mach6Kid

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    25 May 2012 08:05 AM

    * Another thing I was wondering, when you hard pan sounds like this in your mix, does it sound very noticeable when listening to it being played back on regular home speaker's, or like on car speaker's? 

    I'm assuming that you can hear it on your monitor's when everything's playing back. (I can't tell right now, I got my laptop getting work done so I've just been spending time reading up on mixing and production technique's and practice's.) 

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    QuickSkimper

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    25 May 2012 07:55 PM
    Lower sounds would be ones that you want to keep centered. You want to pan delay and reeverb effects in the opposite direction to balance the mix and make it sound more natural. Visualize your mix as if it's being played live on stage. If you have a high hat on the right side, you're going to hear the hat on the right side, and it's echo or lingering after effect on the other side. Picture the left and right sides of the mix as the ends of a seesaw. You want it to balance over the center. This is just my opinion BTW, based on the fact that most trap music seems use a "wall of sound" type of mix where everything is just hitting you with power and energy.

    When mixing, you want high, mid and bass frequencies to be balanced. So say you have a high hat, and no other instrument is in it's frequency range, then it's a good idea to use a noticible balance effect on the other side. Say you have a mid range piano or syth, and a pad melody in the same range, you can pan them opposite each other, and they'll create that balance. (Sometimes you still might want to put a balance effect so they don't sound so dry, but keep it moderate and less noticible)

    As far as using effects for balance, I'd recommend sticking to inverted delays and opposite panned mono reeverb and shying away from phasers/flangers/choruses. Delay and reeverb create natural sounding reflections when applied correctly. phasers/flangers/choruses are all actually a type of delay, but they also effect the panning of the signal so they defeat the purpose LCR mixing as you'll have the effect signal taking up space between the center and it's hard-panned sides. (Not to say it won't sound cool if you mess around with it, and know when to use it... just won't be LCR)


    Lastly, Hard panning makes stereo spread much more noticible on random play back systems such as car stereos, etc... That is the whole reason people seem to use this method. It's easy to create a wide, separated and clear mix. LCR might not be my cup of tea right now, but it's useful to know it.

    ... Just my two cents.
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    BenMilli (TRS)

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    26 May 2012 04:18 AM

    Just don't pan vocals all the way to one side like 'Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles..... Song is so annoying to listen to in a vehicle with no left speaker

    (I know that's not really related to the topic but still it's annoying as hell)

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    Mach6Kid

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    26 May 2012 07:28 AM
    Thanks for all the info Quick. Everything you said was easy to understand, and I'm starting to get the whole idea of what's trying to be achieved in LCR. BEATS ME, that's some cool piece of info there. Sounds like a trivia question.

    But Quick, there is one thing that's kinda bothering me now. I realize that LCR is just considered a mixing technique, and it's one of many. I myself am still learning some of the mixing process. So I still make some pretty common error's.

    What I'm wondering is, what would be the regular way to mix a track? Like what's the most common process of mixing a hip-hop track that you might see? So far, I've gotten down what some would consider the basic's, like, EQ, reverb, and I'm good now with using a compressor for certain things.

    I'm not necessarily looking for some secret/golden tips. I more would kinda want to know what's the process chain someone (or you) would use when mixing. For ex. would you adjust your volume fader's first? Then maybe begin EQ'ing certain sounds? Then add effect's?

    If there was maybe an article or video with a step by step process your could point me to, that would be great. Again, I'm not trying to follow what someone does exactly, but for some reason, when I read or watch something, that goe's through the entire process of how to do something, I can almost instantly build off that and then approach it my own way. But looking on the internet so far, I can only find info regarding just one part of the mixing process.

    -Thanks for all your help so far!
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    QuickSkimper

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    26 May 2012 10:33 AM
    I kinda mix as I compose. There's no set rules, tough getting volume levels right seems to be a natural first step. EQ might come second. ACTUALLY... the first step should always be determining what kind of mix you are going for. You need to picture/hear the final product you want before you can start doing anything. I urge you to read David Gibson's "The Art of Mixing." No one does a better job of explaining the art in a way that gives you tools to be creative as opposed to setting down "rules" for mixing that don't really exists.
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    Mach6Kid

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    28 May 2012 08:40 AM
    Thanks for all the help Quick, I've went ahead and ordered that book already. Thanks a bunch for all the help man. I definitely appreciate it too. Now I can't wait to get my laptop back. Three more day's now!
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    Pompey Productions

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    28 May 2012 04:02 PM
    good info here skimper.
    www.PompeyProductions.com www.twitter.com/P_O_M_P_E_Y www.facebook.com/pompeyproductions
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    BenMilli (TRS)

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    28 May 2012 04:31 PM

    So QuickSkimper, you say LCR isn't your cup of tea right now? What type of mixing do you prefer then? 

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    QuickSkimper

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    28 May 2012 08:46 PM
    As far as I comprehend there is only one type of mixing that exists, the kind where you arrange separate tracks into a whole

    Each track will have its own approach based on what I want the outcome to be. I try to make each sound separate and defined, and have all the sounds come together in a balanced, exciting fashion.
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    Pompey Productions

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    29 May 2012 04:48 PM
    there are different sounds that different ears are trying to obtain. LCR is just a method to create a certain type of feel and gain some space in a mix. I don't think it's an actual TYPE of mix. LCR can definitely be used to space some things out. LCR is probably rarely used in hip hop due to the nature of the music. It's pretty much driven by the vocal and the beat. the stereo field isn't used as much to give the generalized feel that hip hop music is known for: intense, aggressive, in your face. also when using LCR, it's important to check the mix in mono from time to time. LCR is GREAT for when using live instruments and when trying to imitate the live instrumentation feel.
    www.PompeyProductions.com www.twitter.com/P_O_M_P_E_Y www.facebook.com/pompeyproductions
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    QuickSkimper

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    29 May 2012 05:39 PM
    ^^^ 2nd that.
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    Mach6Kid

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    30 May 2012 09:34 AM
    So I just finished watching this video, and man I feel like it helped clear up a lot of issue's I was having with mixing. The guy went over a few important thing's when it come's to getting a good mix, and a lot of them were very simple.

    1. He first stressed the importance of getting your volume fader's correct. I can't remember the exact number he said, but he mentioned that when he's adjusting his volume fader's for his sound's, his master volume never really peaks that high, even when all the sound's are playing at once. (I think he said, that overall on the master he only peaks at about -11 or -8). Getting the volume's right can quickly make a mix sound entirely better.

    2. He said that it's important to EQ your sound's properly. As in "cutting" frequencies that are not being used in a particular sound (like the Hi's in a Sub bass), taking out frequencies that are causing some type of noise you don't want in a sound, or simply just to improve the sound. He mentioned that boosting is ok, but try to only use it when neccessary, and DO NOT over use it.

    3. Using certain effect's on certain thing's. Like you might use reverb on lead synth, if you feel it sound's right. Panning hi-hat's so they don't seem so repetitive. Or maybe a delay on certain sounds. One thing he mentioned, is that a lot of people alway's try to compress sounds. Like everyone seems to compress there drums or snare's. And sometime's, you honestly don't need compression on those thing's. I believe he said that compression on drums is usually used when the wave of a sound is really broad, and taking up a lot of dynamic space. Or something like that. All the effect's mentioned though, he said use sparingly and do not overdo it. Just use it for whatever sounds good to you, and try not to fix something that isn't broke.

    These are just a few example's, so please, if some are wrong or don't seem entirely true do not hesitate to correct me.

    Now that I think about it though, I actually think I read a thread somewhere here Pompey, where you listed some number's for the volume aspect of mixing and at what Db's your sounds should be hitting at. I might be wrong though.
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    Pompey Productions

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    30 May 2012 08:31 PM
    the db varies. typically with a mix, it depends on genre and preference. I like my mix peaking around -6db to -3db.
    www.PompeyProductions.com www.twitter.com/P_O_M_P_E_Y www.facebook.com/pompeyproductions
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