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K-System Mixing Tips

March 10th, 2011 by Ian

A few days ago I had a user ask me how the K-System could be applied to mixing (as opposed to mastering). Here are a few tips:

Leave more headroom
Do your mastering engineer a favour and leave plenty of room for he/she to work. Use the K-20 scale when mixing to maximize headroom. You can always compress down to K-14 or K-12 at a later time.

Beware the red zone
Know where you should be on the K-System scale. The 0 dB mark is used for forte (loud) passages while the red zone (+4 dB and up) is for fortissimo (very loud) passages. Add interest by exploiting the dynamic range of the K-20 scale. Keep verses somewhat softer than the chorus.

Calibrate and tweak
Before you do anything, calibrate your studio monitors with K-Meter. This will establish a reference level that you can return to again and again. Depending on who your target audience is, you’ll likely need to test your mix at various volume levels to ensure a positive listening experience. Your calibrated reference level will serve as a starting point.

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