Submixing in Home Recording - dummies

By Jeff Strong

Submixing is essential if you have a recorder with fewer tracks than you have instruments. The advantage of creating submixes is that you can get by with fewer tracks. The disadvantage is that you can’t make many changes to the sound or volume of the individual instruments after you record them.

Recording by using submixes presents challenges that overdubbing doesn’t. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Make sure that each instrument sounds the way that you want it to sound on the final mix. You can still make minor adjustments to EQ and effects, but only to the entire submix group.

  • Before you record, make sure that each instrument’s volume is where you want it to be relative to the volume of the other instruments.

  • Decide where in the stereo field you want each instrument. This is called panning, and it determines how far left or right each instrument can be heard.

This can take time to set up, but if you’re limited on available tracks, you can record a lot of instruments on few tracks.

If you’re not sure exactly how you want the final submix to sound, you can record more than one version onto separate tracks and use a bounce procedure after you’ve recorded. This gives you more time to experiment with alternate versions of your submix.