The best way to learn how to mix, is to mix. Period.
Yes, learning tips and tricks is important to expand your arsenal of mixing techniques. But simply doing more of the thing you’re learning is almost always the best way to learn. You’ll get hands on experience and you’ll start to train your ears. You should then try getting some critiques on your mixes to give you an idea of how you’re doing.
Before you can do all that, though, you’ll need something to mix. If you’re not at the stage where you’re getting clients yet, or you don’t have time to record a huge amount of music yourself, multitracks are a great option. There are plenty of multitrack recordings out there that you can download for free and start experimenting with.
I’ve pulled together three free multitracks to mix to make practice easier. Every multitrack on here is free so they’re all worth a look. Try to aim for one extra mix per week!
Telefunken’s Live From The Lab series features bands of an eclectic mix performing songs live in various rooms. The songs are all recorded using Telefunken mics, and the multitracks are offered to you for free for mixing practice.
The great thing about Telefunken’s multitracks is that they’re varied in style, allowing you to focus on your preferred genre, or the genre that you need more practice with. At the time of writing, there are over 100 multitracks available to download.
Cambridge Music Technology, run by Mike Senior from Sound on Sound magazine, offers a solid collection of multitracks and other resources. You’ll find a broad range of genres here, from jazz to rock to orchestral. You can find them at the bottom of the page, with submissions from independent engineers .
The beauty of Cambridge MT is that it’s got something for everyone. Also, if you’re looking for session files for a certain DAW, many of the multitracks here include them.
Producer/engineer extraordinaire, Warren Huart, offers up a tidy little bundle for free on his Produce Like a Pro website. The bundle includes a full 83-track rock song for you to practice your mixing skills on – one of the biggest free multitracks to mix that I could find. The beauty of having such a large session to mix is that you can choose to only focus on certain aspects of the track. You could bring in just the drums if you need more drum mixing practice. Or, you could leave out the keys and backing vocals to keep things simple, before ramping things up with a larger session once you’re more comfortable.
Warren has included his mix session as well, so if you’re struggling with the mix, you can see how a pro would tackle it. A small collection of drum samples are also included, with Pro Tools sessions. If you tend to use drum replacement in your mixes, these may prove useful.
Drop a comment below if you’re planning on tackling any of these mixes! And feel free to link any mixes of yours for others to critique. Oh, and if you don’t have any software to mix them yet, take a look at these free digital audio workstations.