Logic Pro: Mixing Concepts & Tips

Posted by Esteban Miranda on

Being a music producer today means a lot more than it used to mean 20 or 30 years ago. In today's world of electronic music production, the defiinition of music producer is usually someone who writes and creates their own music. That's often the first thing that comes to mind these days when someone says they're a producer.

However, there are a range of specialities available to music producer in 2022, with many different avenues you can go down on your musical journey. 

I've said it before, but I think it's worth repeating the unofficial distinction between creative music producers and technical ones. From my own personal experience, people seem to fall somewhere on a spectrum between those two areas.

Some producers are far more technical, with interests in sound design, studio techniques, or recording theory for example. Just look at how complex Max for Live (a software which lets you build your own musical devices within Ableton Live) is, and how you have to be a technically minded producer to get your head around that!

Others prefer a more creative route, actively composing music, learning music theory as well as how to write songs or tracks. It’s a whole different skill set to be able to compose a melody, harmony and rhythm than it is to be able to master an audio track.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, the waters have become a lot more muddied in recent years, as many modern music producers are finding that they're picking up skills and disciplines from both ends of the spectrum. 

So that's where today's guide comes in. 

In this article we are going to look at Mixing. Which I believe is the realm of music production which can perfectly encapsulate both the creative and the technical sides. 

We'll be focusing on mixing in Logic Pro, so while the core concepts will be good for anyone, there will be a few nice Logic-specific tips along the way.


What is mixing? Why do you need to know how to do it?

For those of you who are new to music production, this is going to be a core concept to get your head around.

But it's also good to remind yourself of the basics even if you're an experienced producer.

Especially in today's landscape of producers who can do a bit of everything, it's important to understand the disciplines behind elements of your music production.

Simply put, mixing is the art (or science!) of balancing the elements of a track to create a cohesive and balanced mix. 

This is the first step in creating music that’s ready to be released for public consumption, and it’s full of dos and don’ts, as well as room for creativity and trends. Just look at the loudness war, or how certain 1960s recordings would pan the entire drum kit hard right.

You can hear a great example of this in Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel.

So, mixing is something that has core concepts and principles, the things you always want to make sure you do and get right, but there are also trends and styles that come in and out of fashion. The point to remember is, while there’s definitely a lot of room for experimentation, you also need to know all of the basic rules before you can begin to bend them.


Mixing is all about getting your music ready to be heard by your audience.
The goal is to take an unpolished but finished track, and turn that into a polished and clean sounding mix. 
This is an important point to focus on. The mixing stage of your track should begin once your musical writing phase has finished. It's too easy to blur the lines otherwise, and though there is a case to be made for mixing as you go, it can often be easier to separate these two tasks. 
So, if you're finished writing a track in Logic and you want to move onto the mixing stage, you can export all of your tracks out as audio, and then open them in a new project. To do this, head to File > Export > All Tracks as Audio Files or hit Shift + Cmd + E. 
Doing this can help you focus your attention on the mixing process, instead of getting distracted by adjusting the parameters of that synth part ad infinitum.
Now, the key thing to remember is that your audience, which could be the general public, or someone a bit more niche, is used to hearing professionally mixed music every day.  They know what music should sound like. That's how they consume all of their music. It's mixed and mastered before it gets to their ears. 
Have you ever finished a track and felt really proud of it, but also thought it's missing something? This is a problem that a good mix can often resolve. There are many subtle but noticeable ways that mixing can help to bring out the clarity of each individual part of your track, creating a nicely refined finished product.

So what are the basic rules?

The fundamentals of mixing are something that people could write entire books on. They're out there, so if you're looking for a super detailed deep dive, head over to google.

That being said, it's worth pointing out what the basic concepts are here.

When you're beginning a mix, you'll be looking at it from the following angles:

  • Volume
  • Panning
  • EQ
  • Compression
  • Effects & Automation

If you've managed to balance each of these elements in accordance with everything else, then you're on your way to a good mix. 

The first thing to consider in your mix is usually your volume levels. So let's have a look at approaching this in Logic.

Balancing your levels.

You can see in the image above that mixing in Logic can seem to be a really complicated affair. Now, it certainly isn't a super simple task, but there are a number of things you can do to ensure your mixing is efficient. You can see all of the various plugins and buses that are going on in the mix above. Things can quickly become overwhelming.

So, before you even begin thinking about volume levels, it's a good idea to do a bit of housekeeping. A great thing to do here is to colour code your tracks. 

Right clicking on a channel head and selecting Assign Channel Strip Color will bring up the window pictured. You can then colour-code your mix by grouping like elements together, or using whatever colour system works best for you.

The point is, don't go in blind.

When you're beginning a mix, the first step - as we said - is to balance your volume. So a good place to start with this is to set one track's level where you're comfortable with, and then mix everything in relation to that track. 

If you have a particular part of the track that you want to stand out, begin with placing that at a comfortable level (but always leave yourself 6dB or so of headroom) and then begin to balance the other elements of your music around it. 

One of my favourite tips for mixing is to mix using your ears. And while this seems like I'm making a joke, you'd be surprised at how often we use our eyes to mix volume. So, to get a real feel for your music, close your eyes and bring the volume fader on a track all the way down. Then, slowly bring it up until it sounds right. There's often a sweet spot where something sit comfortably balanced with everything else.

Now, it's tempting to want to pan your mix as you're balancing the levels, but to begin with, I'd say it's a good rule of thumb to roughly get your levels sorted first, and then move on to panning.

Many hit records in the early days of recording were mixed and released entirely in Mono, when Stereo panning wasn’t even an option. So mixing your volume with everything panned down the centre should be your starting point. 

Most DAWs or mixing consoles have a control to switch your mix from Stereo to Mono, so make sure you regularly do this to check there are no glaring issues. These can hide in a Stereo mix that would be far more noticeable in Mono, and since some radio stations still broadcast in Mono, you don’t want your mix sounding terrible to the listeners hearing it in that format.

Now, let's move on to panning.

The Stereo Field

So, balancing your volume levels isn't the only consideration when mixing your music in Logic. You also need to consider the stereo field.

Now, traditionally, this was a left vs right scenario, but now there are even more advanced options out there, allowing you to mix in 5.1 surround sound and using Dolby Atmos to place your sounds in three dimensional spaces.

However, we're going to stick to basics today.

When panning in Logic Pro, there are a number of options. The basic principle here is, you are imagning your music in a three dimensional space, and adjusting the panning position of elements of your track to coincide with both conventions (it's typical to mix your kick, bass and main vocals down the middle) and your vision for your music.

Most producers would say you want to have most of your elements panned close to the centre, with things only panned really far out wide for more unusual effects. But, if it sounds right to you, go for it!

The pan knob is your control for panning, and there are several options available in Logic, which you can view if your right click the control.

The options available depend on the type of channel strip:

  • Pan: This is the default panning mode for mono channel strips. The panner determines the position of a signal in the stereo image. At the center pan position, the channel strip sends equal amounts of the signal to both sides of the stereo image. If you increase the pan position on the left side and decrease it on the right, the sound would move to the left.

  • Stereo Pan: The Stereo Pan mode is only available on stereo channel strips. Use this mode to place the position of the left and right signals individually in the stereo field, as if you had two separate pan knobs.

  • Balance: This is the default panning mode for stereo channel strips. It differs from Stereo Pan mode in that it controls the relative levels of two signals (Left and Right) at their outputs.

  • Binaural: Binaural panning is a method to simulate the full range of spatial information—angle, elevation, and distance—on the panning plane. Binaural panning is best suited for headphone playback.


The distinction to make here is whether your tracks are in mono or stereo.

If you've recorded an instrument in stereo, such as an electic piano, you'll have two channels worth of sonic information to consider when panning.

However, the general rule of thumb with low-frequency instruments like kicks or bass is to keep them in mono and panned down the centre. In contrast to this, giving your high frequency sounds more stereo space in the mix.

With the stereo field, there are some rules to follow, such as the mono rule I mentioned about kicks and basses, but there's also some room for creativity in your stereo imaging.

One track I always come back to as a reference for fun stereo imaging is Four Kicks by Kings of Leon. In this track, the two guitar parts are panned hard left and right, so you get a really clear sonic image of each guitarists' place in the set up.

Another one for you electronic producers out there is Cirrus by Bonobo, it has some really interesting panning going on with the electronic percussive elements.

Once you're happy with where you've panned things, it's time to consider EQ.

Understanding EQ.

So, Logic has some great options for EQ. We covered these recently in review of the various traditional digital EQs and some more tonal vintage emulation models within Logic Pro.

Now, the basic idea of EQ is to shape the frequency character of each element within your mix, ensuring that no two elements are fighting to occupy the same space, and that everything sits correctly and sounds natural.

Your kicks and basses obviously occupy the lower end of the spectrum, with your cymbals and higher pitched instruments occupying the top frequencies. Most sound sources, however, have something happening across quite a wide range of frequencies, so it's important to solo your individual parts and ensure you're cutting any of the unwanted noise or information that may be detracting from the fundamental frequencies of your sound.


Above is Logic's default Channel EQ. It's the first port of call for scultping your sounds. It has a really great analyzer, and the colour coded bands are really helpful for letting you mentally organise the different frequency ranges.

I've said many times that I'm a huge fan of the look of this EQ. The UI is so clean and polished, and it's really nice and easy to use. It should absolutely be the EQ you use most when you're beginning to mix, and learning what sits where in your frequency spectrum.

However, I came across an interesting tip recently.

As with mixing, the inclusion of visual analyzers (or just the fact we're making music with a screen in front of us) can mean it's tempting to use our eyes when approaching our mix, rather than our ears. In days gone by, a lot of the hardware units used to process sound, whether it was EQ units or mixing desks, required the engineer using them to rely on what they were hearing.

This always sounds like a silly inclusion; ofcourse making music relies on hearing. But you'd be surprised at how much we use our eyes, now that we're making music in a digital studio environment which gives us so much visual feedback.

So, a good way to get around this in the EQing stage is to use an EQ without a visual analyzer. That's going to take away a huge. chunk of the visual information, so you can close your eyes and use your ears.

Pictured above are two of the other options for EQ in Logic, the top is Vintage Tube EQ while the bottom is Vintage Graphic EQ. Both of these are part of the Logic's bundled Vintage Emultation EQ plugins, and they're really great. I recently did a review of these, so head over and check it out if you haven't read it yet.

As you can see, neither of these have a visual analyzer, so they aren't going to be giving you any visual reference points for your EQ. This means you can focus on using your ears.

You can see that, especially in the case of the Vintage Graphic EQ, there are far fewer controls, so things will be a lot less complicated. 

One of the most important tenets of using EQ is that you're there to cut and remove unwanted frequencies first and foremost. EQ should largely be a subtractive process, rather than an additive one.

So this means removing glaring issues, such as hum, sibilance or unwanted noise, and only ever slightly boosting interesting or pleasing resonances. Things can very quickly begin to sound unnatural if we boost frequencies too much.

The goal is to ensure your mix retains as much clarity as possible, both in terms of each individual instrument and the overall sound of the mix. 

So you'll want to make sure things panned in similar directions are remain clear when they're playing. And though I advised to solo each individual element to EQ it, this doesn't mean job done. You need to make sure things all sound good together as well.


Now, Compression is one of the most ubiquitous effects used in music production. It's a mixing tool, and it's also a highly creative one.

The basic concept is to shape the dynamics of your audio.

In this sense, dynamics means the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of your music. Compression can narrow the sonic distance between these elements; bringing up the volume of the quietest and reducing the volume of the loudest.

I recently wrote a comprehensive overview of Compression in Logic Pro, which you can find here.

I also reviewed Logic's native Compressor, which has a ton of options and is a really solid plugin.

So, we won't cover too much here. If you want an indepth look at Compression in Logic Pro, head over to the guide linked above.

The final thing you need to consider in your Mix is effects and Automation.

Effects & Automation

Effects & Automation is the part where you can get really creative with your mix. 

Once you've got things sounding clear and balanced, which is what the steps we've covered so far are aimed at helping you achieve, you can look at how you want to add some creativity in through the use of effects. Because up to this point, you should have a very clean (but also very clinical) sounding mix.

Some of the obvious ones are Delay & Reverb.

In Logic Pro, you should make use of Auxiliary Channel Strips for your effects.

These are used for a variety of signal routing purposes. One of the obvious ones is for your reverb.

Instead of putting the same reverb on every single track, which could be a killer on your CPU usage, instead you should load up one instance of your Reverb on an Aux Channel, and use your sends to route your signal from any track you want to this reverb.

Other than the obvious benefit on your CPU, and not having a million instances of the same plugin running, it also helps you to gel your mix by having everything routed through the same reverb.

But obviously, you don't only have to use Aux channels for reverb. You can add any effects you want into these, and use routing from various signal paths to get your desired effects applied.

Now, Automation is another element of music production which helps separate the amateur from the professional.

Once you've added an effect, you don't have to keep those settings static. By using Automation, you can program changes to happen over time, which can make things really interesting.

The thing about effects is, it's largley down to you, and how you want your music to feel. You can add all sorts of interesting effects to your music, so this is the part to get creative.

The effects applied are going to be largely down to how you want the track or song to feel. Remember though that if you are using reverb, it can often sound dead when applied after Compression, so route an uncompressed signal to a separate reverb bus channel to allow the dynamics to be present in the reverb.

Another great tip is to apply subtle delay on vocals to thicken them, listen to a whole host of pop songs and pay close attention to the vocal parts, there are often subtle and filtered delays on the vocals that serve to add warmth and thicken the overall sound. Pipe It Up by Migos is a prime example, there is a very subtle filtered delay on the main vocal line, most obvious when they're repeating the chorus phrase in the left side of the stereo field.

The limits on effects are really up to you, so as long as the effects you're using fit within the context of your msuic, and don't introduce any unpleasant sonic artefacts, you're good to go! 


The final product.

So, hopefully this helped clear up some of the myths around mixing, and gave you a few tips along the way too.

Logic is a really great program to mix your tracks in, and it has a great suite of plugins to help you achieve a nice clear mix.

Clarity is the aim of the game here, though. As long as your musical elements are coming through in a clearly defined way, you've got a good mix.

Mixing is a really valuable skill, so be sure to practice as much as you can. There's a really great project called Shaking Through by Weathervane Music which offers a relal yneat documentary of a recording session, but also allows you, as a member, to download the stems of the tracks recorded and get some mixing practice in.

So thanks for checking in with us here at Logicxx.comWe hope you found this guide useful, and if you want to get even more info on how a good mix is put together, be sure to check out our deals on Logic Pro Templates. These allow you to get a fully produced track to play around with, to see all of the tricks that go into a professional mixed track.

Keep making good music, and be sure to check out our next guide on Logic Pro!



Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →