Top 10 ways to Glue your Mixes & audio tracks – A Mixer’s Guide!

How to Glue your mixes together?

This article will show how you can glue your mixes together.

But first, let’s see what glue in mixing means.

The term Glue or Mix Glue focuses on making all the audio tracks in a mix sound as a single unit, as if all the tracks have equal importance and roles. It helps to create different audio tracks that sound cohesive.

Most of the time, different elements of a mix, like drums, bass, vocals, guitars, and harmonies, do not sit together and can cause imbalances where one aspect dominates the other.

Hence, glueing all the audio tracks and elements together helps to achieve beautiful mixes where each piece compliments the other.

When mixing in the box using a DAW, the following plugins offer glue in audio mixing. They are:

  • EQ,
  • Compressor,
  • Reverb,
  • Delay,
  • Saturation,
  • Exciter.

Top 10 ways to glue your mixes together

Here are the top 10 ways to glue your mixes together. Each one of these steps offers a unique technique that you can use to achieve glue in your mix.

Let’s go through them one by one.

1) Clean recordings & audio files

Clean recordings and noise-free audio files go a long way in creating an adequately glued audio mix.

The problem with noisy audio recordings is that the noise gets amplified whenever you apply any processing. It further reduces the chances of a mixing engineer blending these audio files with the rest of the song.

Even though the noise is low, some processing, such as compression, can become evident. And when you apply processing on multiple dirty audio tracks, the noise will intensify at each step.

Hence, I would suggest asking the producers, singers and all the other artists to send clean and noise-free tracks.

Ensuring all the recordings are clean and noise-free is the first step when preparing audio tracks for professional mixing.

2) EQ

EQ is the first processing unit you are most likely to apply in a mix. Many professional mixing engineers love to start the mixing process by using equalisation to audio tracks.

This tool is excellent for cutting or boosting a mix’s frequency regions. Below is an image of a stock equaliser that comes with Logic Pro X.

Glue your Mixes
Stock EQ

Notice different bands for various frequency spectrums. These bands are responsible for adding or cutting sonics selectively from a sound.

For example: for a bass sound, it is an excellent idea to low-pass and cut higher frequencies in most cases. Similarly, removing the low-end frequencies from a lead sound is a good idea for clean mixes and strong cohesion or Mix Glue.

Use the equalisation tool to cut unnecessary parts and elements of audio. Moreover, an EQ is a great tool to boost the specific frequency spectrums of an audio file.

Cut the overpowered frequencies and boost the underpowered frequencies or elements in a sound you want to rise above others.

Generally, there are two uses for an EQ in the mixing realm. These are:

  • Surgical EQ – to cut and filter out unnecessary elements in audio.
  • Additive EQ – to boost and add character to a sound.
EQ Sitral Arturia
EQ modelled after analog hardware unit
Surgical EQAdditive EQ
great to cut or filter frequencies.great to boost and add colour to a sound.
Example: DAW’s stock EQ plugin.Example: EQ plugins based on analog hardware.
Clean and do not add colour to sound.Add colour, character and grit to a sound.

3) Compression

FET compressors
Classic FET compressor

Another commonly used tool for transient control and adding glue to a mix is the compressor. It is one of the commonly used plugins to add character and control the dynamics of a mix.

A compressor works by squashing or reducing the peaking transients from an audio file or a bus unit, leading to greater control over sound dynamics and hence achieving the glue effect in a mix.

Related: An ultimate guide to glue compression! [plugins rated inside]

Different types of compressors are available in the analogue world and plugin industry. However, these can be classified into countable kinds.

  • VCA compressors,
  • FET compressors,
  • Opto compressors.
opto compressors

Each of these three types of compressors has a different feel and quality associated with them.

While some compressors are aggressive and quick, others are smooth and revealing. The choice of a compressor is greatly determined by the feel you want in a mix.

FET compressors are aggressive and used to add punch, whereas Opto compressors are smooth and used to fit an audio track into a mix by taming the transients and reducing dynamics.

4) Busing audio tracks

Busing audio tracks is a great way to apply the same plugin behavior across multiple audio channels and achieve more glue in your mix.

Therefore, I recommend creating buses for similar audio tracks like basses, drums, vocals, background vocals, etc. It is not a hard and fast rule to make buses. However, creating multiple audio buses will help different audio channels to blend and sound cohesive.

Bussing audio tracks Glue your Mixes
Creating buses in Logic Pro X

Once the buses are in place, apply plugins like reverb, compressors, etc., and use them subtly. Make sure not to push the bus plugin values too hard, as it will ruin the mix. The buses are not a place to heavily process the audio channel. Here, you must carefully create and tweak settings based on the bus unit.

Also Read: Top 10 tips & techniques for Popping Mix Bus Processing!

It is okay to use aggressive plugin settings on individual audio channels. It can help the audio track to get its identity and shine in a mix. But using aggressive plugin settings on a bus component will only prepare it for a disaster.

The bus processing is a great way to apply glue to a mix and make the mix sound fantastic as a unit. A piece of expert advice here is to handle the plugins on the buses carefully, as they can quickly mess up the bus audio.

5) Mix Bus Processing

Glue your Mixes SSL Mastering Compressor
SSL 4000 console

Mix bus Processing is the final step of achieving glue in a mix. The mix bus in a DAW environment is above the master fader, where all the audio tracks meet.

Applying plugins on the master fader is a great way to seal things effectively in a mixing session. Just running the audio through analog plugins like tape saturators will make the track sound cohesive and round off the peaking transients.

A mix bus is a place where you can apply plugins or analog gears to control dynamics further and smooth out a song’s transients.

Related: Tips on Mixing loops and samples!

SSL 4000 mastering compressors are one of the widely used analog hardware units placed on the end of the SSL mixing console to shape the transients and achieve GLUE in a mix.

Most of the mixing engineers used to set the mix bus compressor first to control the dynamics of the whole song and then progress with the rest of the mixing stage. This technique gives subtle transient control and dynamic shaping to a mixing engineer.

Not to forget, the mix bus is a great place to apply most of the processing plugins like compressor, EQ, Multi-band Compressor, exciter, saturator, and vintage analog hardware units.

Remember not to add plugins for the sake of adding plugins but to achieve a blend or glue of different audio channels.

6) Parallel Compression

Parallel compression is widely used to bring grit and fatness to a thin-sounding mix. It powers up the shadowed elements of a mix.

Take any thin-sounding audio track of a mix, duplicate that channel, heavily compress the signal and then blend it with the original track to make a big fat sound.

The great thing about parallel compression is that until you don’t love how it sounds, bring the fat audio up.

Additionally, you can use parallel compression on the whole mix to amp the mix-up. However, be careful while you blend the original and compressed track.

7) Use Saturation in your Mix

Waves Abbey Road Saturator

Good mixing with a saturator will improve your mixes and make them sound cohesive.

The role of a saturator is to add new harmonic content to an audio track or mix. Unlike an EQ, where you can only add or remove specific frequencies, a saturator adds new harmonic content to a mix.

Different saturation plugins work in another way. However, they all add warm and exciting tones to the audio based on the applied settings. An exciter plugin works similarly to a saturator but focuses more on brighter tones or high-end frequencies.

So, how does saturation helps to add glue to any mix?

Saturation plugins add new harmonic content to audio, making it tie knots with other channels that do not have a specific tonal range. Add grit and warmth to your dull sounds using saturation plugins.

8) Use Automation

How to glue your mixes together?

Automation is a way to alter different aspects of a track or plugins as the song or mix moves forward.

It includes but is not limited to:

  • Volume,
  • panning,
  • compressor ADSR,
  • synth settings,
  • And many more.

Using automation is a great way to glue and de-glue the mix at times to create width in a mix.

Volume automation eases the work of the compressor and also varies the emotion of the song as it moves forward.

Similarly, reverb and delay automation adds depth and character to a mix and creates spaces in a song.

Synth automation relies heavily on automating different aspects of a synth, such as filters, envelopes, etc.

The bottom line here is that using automation in a mix offers a great way to glue the mixes together and also, at times, make the song sound greater than life.

9) Don’t overdo processing

Glue your Mixes

Most of us, as mixing engineers, are guilty of throwing more plugins than necessary. We know the starting point but don’t know where to stop and how to tell if the mix is finished & ready for mastering.

However, it is crucial to take a break and analyse the mix. The point where adding a plugin brings hesitation to your face is the point where you need to cool down on plugin processing and adding more plugins.

Use the plugins selectively depending on the song genre, and keep the settings in a place where the mix does not feel overcrowded.

10) Run the audio through Analog Gear

If situations allow and you have access to a professional recording or mixing studio, going to a studio will significantly boost your mixing skills and learning how to glue your mixes together.

Related: 15 Recording Studio Tips for first timers – An Essential list!

Only running the audio tracks through an analog piece of equipment will glue your audio tracks together in a mix. Notice how these analog gears like EQ and compressor smoothen out the peaking transients.

Since the transients are taken care of, the dynamic range is also controlled.


All in all, these were some of the top techniques to glue your mixes together.

Implement these tips and techniques today, and notice how your mixes sound blended as if the audio mix is straight out of a blender.

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