How to Do a Mixdown in Logic Pro
By Scott Shpak
Updated September 22, 2017
The science and art of mixing fills volumes, and there are almost as many approaches to creating a mix as there are engineers. Logic, Apple's digital audio workstation software, has built-in tools and available plug-ins to help you control the tracks you're blending to create your final project. No matter how you approach the process, here are some Logic-specific ways to do a mixdown.
The Rough Mix
Open Logic's mixer in the main window by clicking the Mixer button on the control bar, choosing "View" and "Show Mixer." Choose "Window" then "Open Mixer" to create a separate mixer window. Logic has an array of options to alter the mixer's view, from single-channel strip signal flow to groups of similar channel strips, in addition to viewing all at once.
Create a rough mix by choosing tracks to include and adjusting the faders on the respective channel strips. Levels are adjusted by clicking and dragging volume faders, and channels can be muted easily by clicking the "M" button below the fader. Aim for a preliminary, overall balance for all tracks. This allows you to hear tracks in context as well as guiding later steps in the mix process.
Use the Pan/Balance knob to move the stereo location of each track. Clicking and dragging the knob down shifts panning to the left, while dragging up shifts to the right. Clicking the Pan knob returns it to the center position, and holding "Shift" while dragging permits fine incremental adjustments. Panning separates musical elements into virtual space in the stereo field, to reduce conflict from competing instruments.
Signal Processing and Grouping
Activate a Channel EQ for each strip as needed by double-clicking "Channel EQ." The EQ plug-in loads in the first audio effects slot that is open. You can force the EQ plug-in to load in the first position, ahead of other effects, by pressing and holding the "Option" button while double-clicking "Channel EQ."
Add audio effects plug-ins by clicking the Audio FX area, then choosing the plug-in from the drop-down menu. If other plug-ins are already loaded, the next free slot appears as a half-height area below the occupied slots. Click on this and choose your plug-in as above. Logic includes a variety of audio effects with the package and you can add plug-ins compatible with Apple's Audio Units format.
Combine channels into logical groups to aid the mix process, such as adding all drum channels to a single group. Activate channel strip grouping by selecting "Show Advanced Tools" in the Advanced Preferences Pane. Add a channel strip to a group by clicking its "Group" slot and clicking the desired group.
Use Logic's automation features to create changes in dynamics, volume, pan, effects and other settings related to your mix. You can show automation for any track by either clicking the Track Automation button in the Track header or by choosing "Mix" and "Show Automation," then clicking the Automation button in the Tracks area menu bar.
Choose the parameter to automate from the automation parameter pop-up menu. Volume, pan, solo and mute are always available and any plug-ins used for the track will appear on the menu as well. Once you select a parameter, you can add the first control point by clicking anywhere in the automation track. Clicking again adds additional points that you can then click and drag to create your automation curves.
Bounce your mix down to an audio file and simultaneously burn an optical disk. This is handy to give you perspective on your progress and to hear how your mix sounds on other systems. Select "File" from the menu bar, click "Bounce" and "Project." You can now select destination format, real-time or offline bouncing and other parameters before selecting a file name and location. Click "Bounce" to create your mix. Selecting "Burn to CD/DVD" as one of your destination formats permits optical disk burning as part of this process.
Converting MIDI tracks to audio prior to mixing allows you to include MIDI tracks in offline bouncing, which is faster than real-time bouncing. You can also use effects that are otherwise unavailable for MIDI instrument.
There are literally thousands of tiny decisions made during the creation of a mix. Save copies of your progress at plateaus, with date and time in the file name, and work on a copy of the project. This allows you the freedom to experiment without fear of losing previous progress. These instructions cover Logic Pro X. Other versions may have slightly different procedures.
A full-time content creation freelancer for over 12 years, Scott Shpak is a writer, photographer and musician, with a past career in business with Kodak.