Struggling with Your Synth Recordings? These 5 Technical Mixing Tips Can Help

Whether you’re working on hip-hop, EDM or remixes, finding the right synth sound is always a bit of a challenge.

There are tons of templates out there that can help you imitate your favorite synth or style, but taking that sort of sound and making it your own is easier said than done. Oftentimes it isn’t your choice of synth or composition style that’s the problem, but rather than finer details of your mixing and mastering process.

If you’re struggling for more polished synth recordings, consider any combination of the following tips as fair game.

Work with New Wavetables

Perhaps one of the most significant yet subtle aspects of your synth sound comes in the form of its wavetables. If your synths sound “flat” or have no variation in terms oscillation, experimenting with new wavetables and patterns can make a world of difference.

Rarely do professional producers use default patterns and waveforms: thankfully, there are tons of free downloadable wavetables and presents out there to get you started on a new sound.

Rethink Your Reverb

Representing a relatively quick fix to any lifeless recordings, slapping on a layer of reverb to your synth tracks or entire recordings can create a sort of “arena” vibe. This sort of ambience is especially useful if you’re strictly relying on plugins and samples versus recordings you’ve made yourself.

The only caveat of reverb is that it tends to make your recordings sound a bit artificial if there’s too much of an echo. When in doubt, think “less is more” when it comes to reverb to avoid muddling your tracks.

Mind Your Layering

Layered tracks are the bread and butter of electronic producers; however, you can quickly drown out the tone of your synths when you’re dealing with dozens of tracks. To keep your synths from getting lost in the mix, consider mixing them first and working other tracks such as drums and bass around them.

Also, ensure that you spread similar setting across your synth tracks so they sound uniform versus all over the place.

Apply a Compressor

Composers need to do everything in their power to prevent clipping within recordings. Although your synths usually aren’t the worst culprit in regard to clipping (think: drums are usually much more of a headache), applying a compressor to your tracks can help cut down on harsher tones and peaks of your synths. Compressors can work wonders on lead synths, in particular, which can otherwise distract from other pieces of the mix because of their higher pitch.

Experiment with Your EQ

As the final piece of the production puzzle, improving the quality of your EQ might seem like a game of hit-or-miss for those new to mixing tracks. While your EQ can’t save a low-quality recording, it can make a huge difference for cutting down bass booms or unpleasant treble tones in your synths. There is no one-size-fits-all mix as genres and production styles vary, so don’t be afraid to experiment accordingly.

There’s no need to give up on finding that “perfect” synth tone. By being patient and sticking to these tips, you can fine-tune your synth recordings over time until achieve exactly the sound you’re looking for.