What’s the best mixing level for tracks

How do you set the levels of your tracks when mixing, especially of your using analog type plugins. Do you use vu Meters or do you just keep levels at a certain decibel when mixing etc

The only thing that really matters is that you leave yourself enough headroom so your master doesn’t go too much over 0dB. That’s really about it. How much headroom that means depends on what sort of music you make. If you only have a guitar and vocals then you don’t need to leave yourself as much “playing room” compared to some intense electronic piece with 40 tracks of layering.

Usually I have my tracks around the -10dB to -20dB range.

Remember that if you then decide to stick some plugins on the master after you’re done mixing, like compression or distortion or whatever - plugins that are dependant on the level coming in - you can always stick a-gain or a similar plugin before your mastering chain. So what levels you mix at doesn’t really matter. Just leave yourself enough headroom not to have a clipping master.

If you want a trick for getting a rough mix balance, you can set some pink noise at your calibrated level (say, -18dB) and set each individually soloed track with the gain knob so it is barely heard above the pink noise. You’ll find you have an excellent starting for detailed fader adjustments and automation after that. It still ends up being all about listening and good judgement :wink:


That is an interesting trick I will need to try out sometime.


I’m very newbie. Is that a plugin on Ardour I can use to generate pink noise?

Ya I heard about this, some swear by it, some say it’s not good but I’ll have to try it for myself one day

Yep: https://x42-plugins.com/x42/x42-testsignal

Ya also there is plugins you can download and many other program have their own included signal generators, a good plugin is this one here

This one is only for Windows and Mac. I suppose it has a decent chance of running via Wine/LinVST but a native option is probably the best bet. The x42-plugins work across all platforms in Ardour/Mixbus.

Right, I thought about it as I was sharing it but I just wanted to put it out there in case the user was using windows or Mac, and the fact it was free as well. I do like nice GUI interface plugins lol but any will do and Linux does have this.

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