How to Mix Pop Music like a Pro

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


So you want to know how to mix pop music like a professional? Here are some tips to get you started.


Learning how to mix pop music can be a great way to improve your production skills and create more exciting and polished tracks. Pop music is usually heavy on melody and lyrical content, so it can be helpful to start by focusing on these elements when you begin mixing. You should also pay close attention to the overall energy and feel of the track, as this is what will make it truly pop. With a little practice and some guidance, you’ll be mixing pop music like a pro in no time!

The Tools You’ll Need

If you’re serious about mixing pop music, you’ll need more than just a standard sound system. You’ll need a mixing console, outboard gear, and plenty of software. Here’s a look at the tools you’ll need to mix pop music like a pro.

-A mixing console: This is the heart of your studio. A good mixing console will give you a wide range of options for manipulating sound. Look for a console with at least 16 channels, and make sure it has plenty of EQ and effects options.
-Outboard gear: Outboard gear can give your mixes a professional edge. Look for compressor/limiters, EQs, and reverb units.
-Software: You’ll need a good digital audio workstation (DAW) to do your mixing in. Pro Tools is the industry standard, but there are plenty of other good options out there, including Logic Pro, Cubase, and Ableton Live.
-Monitors: You’ll need a good set of monitors to hear what you’re doing as you mix. Active monitors are the best choice for most studios.
-Headphones: A good set of headphones is essential for monitoring while you mix.

With the right tools in place, you’re ready to start mixing pop music like a pro!

The Basics of Mixing Pop Music

Mixing pop music can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! With a little bit of knowledge and practice, anyone can mix pop music like a pro. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of mixing pop music so that you can get started making great sounding mixes.


Equalization, or EQ, is the process of adjusting the balance of frequencies in a recording. In mixing, EQ is used to help create a pleasing balance of sounds, to make elements fit better with each other, and to solve problems such as muddiness, lack of clarity, and harshness.

There are two main types of EQ: parametric and graphic. Parametric EQ gives you more control over each individual frequency, while graphic EQ offers pre-set frequencies that can be adjusted with a simple slider. In general, parametric EQ is more versatile and powerful, but graphic EQ can be quicker and easier to use.

When equalizing pop music, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, try to avoid using too much EQ – it’s easy to make a mix sound muddy if you boost too many frequencies at once. Second, remember that each element in a mix should have its own space in the Frequency Spectrum – if everything is fighting for the same space, it will sound cluttered and messy. Finally, when in doubt, Less Is More – it’s always better to start with less EQ than you think you need and then add more if necessary. With these tips in mind, let’s take a look at how to equalize a pop mix.


In its most basic form, compression is when you lower the volume of the loudest parts of a recording, and raise the volume of the quietest parts. This evens out the overall sound, and can help to make a recording sound fuller and more polished.

There are a few different ways to compress a recording. You can do it manually, by riding the faders up and down as you listen; you can set up an automated system to do it for you; or you can use a plug-in.

Manual compression is often used on vocals, as it allows the engineer to really zero in on the peaks and valleys of the performance. Automated systems are typically used on drums, as they can be quite effective at evening out the sound of a kick drum or snare. And plug-ins are often used on both vocals and drums, as they offer a great deal of flexibility and control.

When setting up a compression plug-in, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. The first is threshold: this is the point at which the compression will start to take effect. The second is ratio: this is how much the signal will be compressed once it reaches the threshold. And finally there’s makeup gain: this is used to boost the overall level of the signal once compression has been applied, so that it sounds natural and un-compressed.

Getting these settings right takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get them right. And if you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of presets available that can help you get started in the right direction.

Reverb and Delay

Reverb is an important tool for creating a sense of space in your mix, and can be used on individual tracks or bussed across multiple tracks. There are many different types of reverb, but the three most common are halls, rooms and plates.

Halls are large, reflective spaces that create a long decay time — think of the sound of an empty concert hall. Rooms are smaller spaces with a shorter decay time, while plates are metal plates that create a distinctive metallic reverb.

Delay is another important tool for creating space in your mix, and can also be used on individual tracks or bussed across multiple tracks. Delay is created by repeating an audio signal at regular intervals, and the three most common types of delay are single delay, ping-pong delay and modulation delay.

Single delay is the simplest type of delay, where the repeated signal is a straight copy of the original signal with no change in pitch or tone. Ping-pong delay is similar to single delay, but the repeated signal bounces from left to right in the stereo field. Modulation delay is more complex, and modulates the pitch and/or tone of the repeated signal to create a chorus-like effect.

Intermediate Mixing Techniques

If you are just getting started with mixing pop music, there are a few things you should know. In this article, we will cover some intermediate mixing techniques that will help you take your mixes to the next level. These techniques include using EQ to create space, using compression to control dynamics, and using reverb to create a sense of space.


One of the most important mixing techniques is layering. This is when you add different sounds on top of each other to create a more full and interesting sound. A good way to think of it is like an onion, with different layers being added one at a time.

One common way to layer is to add different percussion instruments on top of each other. This can create a really full sound that really drives the beat forward. Another common way to layer is to add multiple guitar tracks, with each one playing a different part. This can make the guitar sound much bigger and more powerful.

Layering is a really important technique that can take your mixes to the next level. So get out there and start experimenting!


Automation is the process of using a computer to automate the creation or manipulation of sounds. Automation can be used to create or enhance a wide range of sounds, from simple transitions to complex soundscapes. Automation can be an effective way to add interest and texture to your mixes, and it can also be used to save time when working with large files.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using automation:

– Use automation sparingly. Too much automation can destroy the natural feel of a performance, and it can make a mix sound “sterile” or “cold.”

– Use automatable plugins sparingly. If you find yourself using an automatable plugin on every track in your mix, chances are good that you’re overusing it. Again, this can destroy the natural feel of a performance and make a mix sound unnatural.

– When in doubt, less is more. It’s always better to err on the side of using less automation rather than too much. You can always add more later if needed, but it’s much harder to remove automation once it’s been applied.


Saturation is a very important tool in the mixing process, and can be used to add depth and character to your track. There are many different types of saturation, but they all basically achieve the same goal: to make your track sound bigger, fuller, and more exciting.

One of the most common types of saturation is clipping. Clipping occurs when the signal exceeds the maximum amplitude that the system can handle. This can cause distortion, which can be either a good or bad thing, depending on how it’s used. If you want to add a bit of grit and excitement to your track, you can intentionally clip the signal to create distortion. Just be careful not to overdo it, as too much distortion can make your track sound muddy and unpleasant.

Another type of saturation is analog emulation. This is where digital plugins are used to simulate the sound of analog hardware. This can be used to add warmth and character to your track, and make it sound like it was recorded in a professional studio.

Finally, there’s tube saturation. This is where the signal is passed through a tube before it reaches the speakers. This can add a bit of compression to your track, and make it sound thicker and more “glued” together.

There are many other types of saturation out there, but these are some of the most common. Experiment with different types of saturation to find out what sounds best for your track.

Advanced Mixing Techniques

Pop music is all around us. It’s in commercials, on the radio, and in countless movies and TV shows. Even if you’re not a huge fan of pop music, there’s a good chance you still enjoy some of it from time to time. So what goes into making a pop song sound good? In this article, we’re going to take a look at some advanced mixing techniques that will help you mix pop music like a pro.

Sidechain Compression

Sidechain compression is a technique that is often used in electronic dance music, and it can be used to create some really cool effects in your mixes. Basically, sidechain compression allows you to duck the volume of one track whenever another track plays. This can be used to create a pumping effect, or to make sure that certain elements in your mix stand out.

To set up sidechain compression, you will need two tracks that are playing at the same time. For this example, we will use a kick drum and a bassline. We want the bassline to duck out of the way whenever the kick drum hits, so that the kick can really thump through the mix.

First, open up your compressor on the bassline track. Set the attack to around 10 ms and the release to around 100 ms. These settings will let the compressor respond quickly enough to duck the bass whenever the kick hits.

Next, set your ratio pretty high – around 10:1 or even higher. This will ensure that the bass ducks significantly when the kick hits.

Now, set your threshold so that it only catches the very loudest peaks of the signal – around -10 dB or so.

Finally, set up your sidechain trigger. In most compressors, this will be a separate input that you can choose from a drop-down menu. In our example, we want to use the kick drum as our trigger, so we would choose that input from the drop-down menu.

Now when you play your track back, you should hear the bassline ducking out of the way whenever the kick hits!

Parallel Compression

Parallel compression is a mixing technique that can be used to add density and punch to a track. It involves sending the signal of a track to a compressor, and then mixing the compressed signal in with the dry signal. This can be done with any type of track, but it is particularly effective on drums and bass.

Here are some tips for using parallel compression:

-Start by setting the compressor to a moderate ratio (3:1 or 4:1) and a fast attack time.
-Increase the threshold until the compressor is just starting to compress the signal.
-Adjust the release time so that it is just long enough to avoid pumping.
-Play with the makeup gain to taste. You may want to add some boost for extra punch, or you may want to keep it flat for a more natural sound.

Remember, parallel compression is just one tool in your mixing arsenal. Use it judiciously, and don’t overdo it!

Drum Replacement

In many modern recording studios, drum replacement is an essential part of the mixing process. Drum replacement is the process of using software to trigger pre-recorded drum samples in place of the original drums in a song.

There are many reasons why you might want to replace the drums in a song. Maybe the original drums were recorded with a poor quality microphone, or maybe they were recorded in a room with too much reverberation. Whatever the reason, replacing the drums can help give your song a much cleaner and more polished sound.

Drum replacement can be a very time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be. With today’s advanced software, it’s possible to replace drums quickly and easily with just a few clicks of your mouse. In this article, we’ll show you how to use Drumagog, one of the most popular drum replacement plugins on the market, to quickly and easily replace drums in your next pop mix.


Now that you know the basics of how to mix pop music, you can apply these techniques to your own mixes and see a dramatic improvement in the quality of your work. Remember to take your time, experiment with different techniques, and most importantly, have fun!

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