At the "top-down mixing” you get faster for a better mix and this with fewer plugins. In addition, only what is really needed is removed from the signal. This becomes yours Song much more musical and you have to struggle with fewer phase problems because fewer filters have to be used.


Top down mixing is a technique that, as the name suggests, is mixed from top to bottom. In our case, if you take the master bus as “above” and the individual tracks as “below”, it quickly becomes clear that we are using our Mixing on the master bus begin.

The aim here is to record the song in the master track and in the individual group tracks as far as possible tonal, hospital and dynamic to be perfected in such a way that we save as much as possible of single-track processing.


  • Faster overall result
  • Detect interference areas earlier
  • Less plugins
  • More musical sound
  • Less phase problems
  • More controlled result for later mastering


  1. We open ours Master bus or stereo out in our DAW. Here we need at least an EQ and a limiter. If you want to compress a little more specifically, you can also load a normal VCA, FET Cmpressor or a multiband compressor into the channel.

    In the limiter, we first choose one of the standard Mastering presets and pull the threshold down until the song as a whole has a loudness that other titles in your genre also have. Then we try out different presets and decide which one suits our song best.

Top Down Mixing Master Bus Process Peak Studios
Master bus process
  1. Now let's start with the "level” of the individual groups channels and at the same time also take the Panorama distribution, if necessary. Afterwards we dedicate ourselves to the individual channels within the group lanes and do the same as described above. So we have a very rough one Rough mix.
Top Down Mixing Bus Process Peak Studios
Group bus process
  1. Now we go back to the master bus and start with that Equalizer Boost and cut frequency rangesuntil we get a little closer to our desired end result.

    In order to be able to work more efficiently and objectively here, we repeatedly compare A / B with our reference.

    If we have not yet come to a satisfactory result with the limiter and the equalizer, we can do another one compressors get help. The use of existing presets also applies here. These can be modified according to your wishes and needs.

    First and foremost, it is important to rely on what has been heard. If this is still too little or inaccurate, you are of course welcome to use a metering system.

  1. After we have processed the master bus to our satisfaction, we go to the Group lanes over. The way to the mastering studio is often found here and a so-called stem mastering made (mastering of group tracks).

    Here we need an equalizer and optionally one or more compressors. In the group tracks, we combine individual instruments or sounds into groups.

    Useful groups would be e.g. drums, bass, vocals, backings or choirs, guitars, EFX, strings etc.

    First of all we bypass all active plugins so that we only hear the raw material. We then switch everything back on and process the individual groups with the compressor and the EQ, as described in the points above. We carry out another "comparison check" and switch all plugins to bypass again. This helps us to get a before/after feeling and to decide whether we like the sound as it is, or whether we would like to include one or the other frequency or sound characteristic in the title that we suddenly no longer hear after editing.

Top Down Mixing Bus Leveling Peak Studios
Group track leveling
  1. We modify our master bus again in coordination with the individual group lanes until we have achieved a better result than before.


  1. Now we start with the individual track processing and modify each of these with an equalizer and / or compressor so that they contribute positively to our overall result. First we modify these to the sound of the individual group tracks and then to the entire title. Here, too, we turn on again A / B comparison with and without plugins.
  1. As soon as we have coordinated all channels in our mix, we can turn to the musical processing in the next step.

    So we add sound-changing processes added. This can be done by one Reverb to Delay or other fancy effects such as phasers, Auto tune, Saturation or automations. In doing so, however, the overall result and the sound of the master track should always be taken into account and, if necessary, changed again according to the above order.

    An A / B comparison with and without plugins should be made here in any case!

  1. If everything is sound to our satisfaction, then as a last step we check again whether all Specifications for the respective medium or streaming provider were adhered to.

    We should ask ourselves here whether our loudness is competitive, we are working in the correct file format Sample Rate and bit depth is correct and whether Output peak and TruePeak correspond to the selected specifications.

    One last look whether the frequency response is similar to our reference and we can export the finished song.


In order to recognize necessary changes or superimpositions of frequencies and instruments that can hide each other even more efficiently, we recommend the following procedure:

Grab one Analyzer in which you can isolate a certain frequency band, ideally you can in the analyzer as well Middle and side signal listen separately.

If these options are not available to you, a simple multiband compressor is sufficient.

But be careful: set this so that no processing takes place here in the form of compression. Now you have at least 3 or more tapes that you can listen to or listen to separately from each other.

If you now solo the middle signal or side signal, you can use the frequency band isolation to listen to individual sections of your song and compare them with your reference and, if necessary, make the necessary changes in individual group or instrument tracks. A simple example of this is the bass range, which we can freely define from 20 Hz to 100 Hz.

If you solo this area and listen to the side signal, you can quickly determine whether your bassline or other instruments are leaving bass components in the side signal, which the "mono middle" could no longer show in a sufficiently differentiable way.

Conversely, if you listen to the middle signal separately, you can also determine here whether instruments or vocals are playing too much in the low-end area and thus perhaps masking overtones of your baseline or kick drum and robbing this area of ​​energy.

Chris Jones

Chris Jones

CEO - Mixing and mastering engineer. Has been running Peak Studios since 2006 and is the first online service provider for audio services. More about Chris

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