In this article, we are going to see 11 unique techniques and recipes to mix loops and samples.
Importing samples & loops into a project is one thing, mixing them is another. Therefore, it is highly crucial that you start mixing loops and samples in a right direction.
11 Expert ways Mix loops & Samples
Here are some of the standard principles that industry professional use to instantly make any loops or sample sit well with the rest of the mix.
1) Pitch mapping & tempo correction
After importing samples and loops into your DAW, the first step is to ensure that the tracks’ pitch and tempo match that of your project.
This is a crucial step to ensure that the imported sample or loops compliments the mix sonically.
DAWs like Logic will automatically match the tempo of a loop to that of the existing project. But you can also fine-tune the sample using flex mode in Logic.
Next, for pitch correction, the same flex pitch option offers a great way to modify the pitch of loops and samples.
This step makes loops and samples sound in tune with the rest of the music mix.
2) Filtering loops & samples
Filtering is the next step after pitch and tempo correction in mixing loops and samples. Here, we will use EQ across the frequency spectrum of the imported loop or sample for filtering purposes.
Filtering in mixing is essential to clean up and add character to the audio tracks. Use subtractive and additive EQ to eliminate unwanted frequencies and make the key elements cut through the mix.
Stock EQ plugins that come with a DAW will do the job well. However, I recommend using Fabfilter Pro-Q to have much more control over equalising the audio. A feature of the Pro-Q I adore is the dynamic EQ option.
3) Use compression (if required)
If you are using loops and samples that are already compressed and processed, you can proceed without compressing the audio track.
For example, most of the loops and samples from the splice are already compressed. Here, applying compression will not add a significant difference to the track.
However, for raw loops and samples having little or no processing, compression can add a magic touch to them. Also, the reduction will make the pieces sound consistent across the song.
Use analog VST compressor plugins to add color and character to your samples. Some of must try compressor plugins are:
- Arturia Compressor Series,
- Waves CLA compressor plugins,
- SSL Bus compressor 2,
All in all, applying compression to an imported loop or sample is a good idea, even though it is subtle.
4) Increasing stereo width
Stereo width is another essential factor to consider when mixing loops and samples.
There are multiple ways to increase the stereo width of the loop or the sample you are mixing, such as:
- Mid-Side EQ.
All these methods will sufficiently add stereo space into your mix and inject life into instrumental and vocal samples or loops.
Sprinkle these effects and see the mix spread across the stereo space.
5) Mixing drum samples
Mixing drum samples depends on whether the sample or loop has been processed. Also, what can be added without ruining the natural quality of the audio?
Compression on a processed drum loop or sample will have no significant effect. On the other hand, using eq, compression, reverb, and further processing on raw drum samples will tuck them into the mix and blend them into the song.
So, how do you mix raw drum samples and loops?
There are three main tactics to mix drum samples and loops.
Firstly, start with equalization. Use filters to remove low-end rumble noises and boost the high-end to add crispness and air.
Secondly, add a compressor for transient control. Depending on the type of compressor, you can make drums sound punchy, smooth, or cohesive.
Next is to add reverb and delay to add space and depth to the sample. It can also be used to create a dark drum sound.
Moreover, look for missing pieces in the puzzle. Hear the sample or loop to check if it can be further enhanced by applying processing effects.
6) Use buses to add FX
This tip is related to workflow rather than the mixing process. Creating and using buses is an efficient way to add effects when you want to mix loops & samples.
Moreover, think of all the CPU power you save for the power-hungry plugins!
Create buses to add processing effects such as reverb, delay, saturation, etc. All the DAWs have a way to implement buses inside the project session.
7) Add reverb & delay
Reverb and delay are two commonly used creative effects to inject depth into audio tracks when mixing audio in general.
Both these creative effects will make your mix sound cohesive and glued together.
Try reverb or delay on audio tracks that may sound better when spread across the stereo space. Avoid throwing any of these two effects on the bass or drum samples.
By putting a glue compressor on the master bus, you can make audio samples and loops blend in with the rest of the mix. Therefore, keeping such an easy mixing step in your bag of tricks will do wonders for the music mix.
Getting the glue effect is easy.
Put a compressor, preferably a glue compressor, on the master bus. Then, lightly engage the compressor to get a compression of 4-6 dB.
A glue compressor helps to mix different audio files and subtly control the dynamics of the whole track.
Make sure to apply glue compression before you dive into mixing audio tracks. It will help all the loops and samples in a song to blend.
9) Slicing samples
Slicing samples and loops is another effective way to mix them with the rest of the audio tracks.
Most of the DAWs offer a way to creatively slice up a sample. In logic Pro X, this can be done using the Sampler. Simply, drag
All in all, slicing will make sure that you emphasise on the shining elements of the sample or loop.
10) Double it!
Sometimes, doubling up a sample or loop & pan them left and right. This way, you can increase the stereo width of the song and make the loop or sample take its own space without overcrowding the rest of the mix.
Moreover, you can automate the panning levels to make the audio elements far or near the center as the song progress. This is a great way to create excitement, anticipation, and tension in a song.
Doubling audio tracks also allows you to apply different processing on both channels and blend them together per your creative workflow and choices. It is one of the innovative techniques you can use for sound design.
11) Try Saturation
Saturation is another flawless technique to mix loops & samples. The upside of using saturation is that it fattens up an audio track, adding depth.
Saturating a loop or sample introduces new harmonic content to the audio track, which can make it blend smoothly with the overall mix.
Some of the most popular types of saturation effects are:
All these saturation effects are based on different circuitry, thus emulating other saturation effects and tones.
All in all, these were some of the top-rated and industry-used techniques to mix loops & samples. Implement these tips when you mix loops & samples to make the whole mix sound cohesive and glued correctly.
Moreover, mention any tips that you think are worthy enough to be on the list.