Creating depth in mixes, Start to mixing

Hi, Tchad. How to ensure that the instruments in the mix are on different planes? Due to what processing, apart for the level balance, it is possible to “move” the instrument back into the depth of the mix? How to make a mix not only in width, but also in depth?
What part of the song do you start mixing with? Is this the culmination of song? Or you start to playing song and mixing in process? What usually the first musical instruments do you start mixing with?
Regards, Vlad.

Hi V,

  1. It’s easier if you learn a little about how humans hear and what aural cues let us know direction and distance. There’s too much to go in depth here but I can get you rolling.
    Human hearing is described as “binaural”* as opposed to stereo. Binaural takes into account the head as an acoustic network of filtering, delay and phase. (It also includes body cavities and bone conduction but I won’t go into that here).
    The basics are: Left side sound source will arrive at the right ear with less hi frequency (filtered by your head). It will also be delayed since it has a further distance to travel. In mixing, use your imagination to play with this using EQ, delay and phase.
    (I think it’s important to see the phase reverse button as an additional tool to expand EQ capabilities. It’s not just for troubleshooting lo freq).
    For depth, besides using reverbs or delays, it could help to know a bit about equal loudness curves** which show how frequency response is related to level. Level often being how close or far the source is. In a nutshell, the lo and hi freqs drop off faster than the mids when the sound source moves further away and vice versa. Again, use your imagination and experiment!

*Sound localization - Wikipedia

  1. All depends on the song/music. I like to change it up but if the song starts quiet and ends with a bang I’ll often get initial levels with the end of the piece or the loudest part of the arrangement.
    Also, individual sounds don’t count as much as the sum of all the instruments in.

Thank you for answers!