Skip to main content

Mixing Synths, Pads & Samples

Lesson 37 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

Mixing Synths, Pads & Samples

Lesson 37 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

most popular music & audio

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

37. Mixing Synths, Pads & Samples

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The lesson discusses how to mix synths, pads, and samples in a song, using examples from the band Periphery's album. It emphasizes the importance of finding the right sounds for the parts and leveling them so they can be heard in the mix without needing heavy processing. The lesson also covers the use of doubling-up on lead guitars with percussive instruments or synths with portamento, the inclusion of piano parts and advanced harmonies, the use of 8-bit samples, the addition of tambourine for forward movement, and the use of impact samples for cinematic effects.


  1. How should synths, pads, and samples be mixed in a song?

    Find the right sounds for the parts and level them so they can be heard in the mix without needing heavy processing.

  2. What can be done to create a percussive texture with synths?

    Double-up on lead guitars with more percussive instruments like synths or synths with high levels of portamento.

  3. How should piano parts be treated in a mix?

    Level them so they can be heard and add any necessary processing to fit them into the mix.

  4. What role do 8-bit samples play in a song?

    They can add a unique element to the song and create a specific atmosphere.

  5. How can tambourine be used in a mix?

    It can be added subtly to the choruses to add forward movement and give articulation to strummed parts with distortion.

  6. What kind of impact samples are recommended?

    Samples that have a cinematic, hard impact when they come in, rather than traditional sub-drop style effects.

  7. What is the importance of finding the right sounds for a mix?

    It reduces the need for heavy processing and ensures that the sounds blend well into the mix.

Next Lesson: Mixing Vocals

Lesson Info

Mixing Synths, Pads & Samples

Alongside these extratextual guitars, we do have all sorts of synths parts and piano parts. They're actually broadly left untouched. The only thing which I'm doing is using a little bit of the track spacer plugin to make sure it doesn't conflict too much with the guitars when they do, but also make sure that they have space. When they have space they can have the full frequency spectrum to themselves. If I were to solo what's going on synth-wise. (electronic music) So there it's clearly doubling on of the guitar lead-lines and it's allowing, it's giving a more percussive texture. If I were to find the lead guitar that goes with up here. (electronic music) It can really, it can be very cool to double-up on lead guitars with more percussive instruments like that or sometimes synths with quite a high level of portamento so they're really kind of gliding between the notes can be really cool. Doubling-up with lead guitars, we do a lot of that on various songs on the album. Sometimes those t...

hings sound terrible on their own like really honky-sounding synths that just blend really well into the mix. I really haven't had to do much processing to this because Mischa, who wrote most of these parts, spent a long time finding the right sounds for the parts. It's more about just leveling them at such a point where you can hear what they're doing, than really heavily hewing to fit into the mix. If I'm having to really heavily hew something, that generally tells me that it wasn't the right choice of sound. So, we've got some maybe straight-up piano parts down here. (electronic music) So it says piano but obviously that's not quite a piano. It must be some piano patched probably with an omnisphere, I want to say. And there's some really quite advanced stuff going on in there harmonically and Mischa is extremely good at coming up with very cool layers like that, that really add to the song. This song with none of those synth layers would be a very different sounding thing. It would be far more straight-forward. This really adds another layer of harmonic interest. We've also got the 8-bit samples of course that begin and end the song. Which, I believe was Mischa and Jake together, and that's a version of the intro riff of the song and you can hear those in isolation. Those were provided to me for the mix by them, just pretty much ready to go. There's very little needs doing to those. (electronic music) I think some people seem to think that we've got it from a video game or something, but that, or if that might have come before the riff in the song but that was written after the fact. We just have an arpeggiator riser as we go into the song. (electronic music) Which, I think I must be using, there's a bit of compression on one of them. It sounds like they kind of printed those through some delay trails as well. In general, I really don't like having to do too much to this stuff but sometimes songs really really require it. Maybe not within periphery but stuff I do with clients sometimes can be very synth-heavy and if that's the case you can really start having to carve out a lot of space within the mix or within the extra parts in order to make it all fit together. Thankfully this stuff all came together quite organically and we were able to make some rough level adjustments during tracking but the time we got to mixing, it really wasn't such a big deal. We did add one percussive element to the choruses which is very quiet and people probably haven't picked up on it just by listening to the song. We did add a tambourine courtesy of superior drummer underneath the choruses which to me, added a bit of extra forward movement. So, it sounds like... (tambourine plays) It's really not very interesting, but in the context it adds some forward movement. (driving electronic music) It can be really cool to mess around with layers like that or perhaps layering guitar parts with acoustic guitars which we did on a couple of songs on the album as well, where you get that similar kind of jangly effect coming from the guitar. That can be very good for giving articulation to strummed parts with distortion, which typically can lack lots of articulation. Tambourine was just a bit of fun, though. I was kind of surprised it made it to the final mix, but it's here in the session. And then, to round out the kind of synth effects that we have going on here, there are some just big impact samples. I'm not really a fan of the traditional sub-drop style effect samples, where you just get a sound wave dipping down in volume. I really like things that are more cinematic in nature, that have a real hard impact when they come in. So, here's a good example of one, and I think this particular example, I've used on a huge amount of productions that I've done. Bands seem to really really like this one. I'll show you what it sounds like. (dramatic electronic music) And this comes from a sample pack that I bought a long time ago when I started doing productions. If you go and look at electronic sample packs designed for especially club DJ's and stuff, you'll find a whole wealth of these kind of effects. I urge you, probably only need to buy one pack. It will probably last you your entire producing life, because it's going to come with hundreds of these effects. It can be a lot more fun than just simply having kind of downward-moving 8-0-8 drops or something like that. I'll show you, when that comes in, you'll really hear it. (electronic music) If I take that out. (electronic music) It's just lacking some of that impact and front-end energy. That really doesn't require any hew to sit in the mix. You could shape the envelope a little bit with some compression if you felt that it was sticking out too much, or you wanted to really exaggerate it, but clearly here it just sat right in the mix and was all good to go.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Halpern Drum Samples
Micing Guitar Cab
Nolly's Mic List

Ratings and Reviews

Connor Smith

I haven't even finished the course and already my mixes have improved dramatically. Night and day difference. I haven't watched the portions with Matt as I'm using drum samples (GGD specifically), but I have no doubt it's great. Matt is always incredibly helpful and is a brilliant drummer. I thoroughly enjoy listening to Nolly, he's very articulate and his approach to audio engineering is flat out brilliant. I'm so happy I purchased this course. Before my mixes were good (balance and things of that nature) but lacked life and energy. I just wasn't getting the professional level sound I was searching for. Now, I am proud of my mixes and actually think they're getting to the point where they sound professional and don't sound like they were produced by a dude in his bedroom with about half of year of recording and audio engineering experience. The metal genre is difficult to mix as there's a lot going on and the "current metal sound" is very crisp and clear while still being very heavy and punchy. It isn't 80s dad metal where guitars are hissy and flubby. lol I am a huge Periphery fan and it's a privilege to watch Nolly share his knowledge. I really enjoy his approach as its very simple but very effective. He doesn't have insane mixing strategies, he just does what works and it's applicable to any DAW and is helpful for almost any genre of music. Brilliant course!

a Creativelive Student

This was an amazing course! I loved hearing from both Matt and Nolly on their thought process behind drums in general. I love the point they drove home about getting a great source tone. That seems to be forgotten in a lot of recordings and they try to fix it in the mix. Jolly did a fantastic job of making it look "easy" to take already great sounding source tones and making them really shine! Cant wait to put these concepts into practice in my own projects. What a great source of knowledge here. Thanks for this great class!

Adrian Gougov

Best course and overall learning experience I've had in a long long while. Nolly and Matt are superb. Nolly is an astonishing mixing and recording engineer and a great teacher. Not only does he explains his methods carefully and in detail, but also lays down key concepts in an understandable language. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to mix modern heavy music. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to track drums properly. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna see one of modern metal's best drummers track a whole song from start to finish. Props to Creative Live for bringing this material to us.

Student Work