How to Mix and Master a Trap Beat in FL Studio [13 Videos]
Thanks for stopping by!
This is probably the most epic post I have ever done and in fact, this trap tutorial was a paid product that I have since decided to add as free content to Modern Samples.
What You Are NOT Going to learn…
- First off this is not a production tutorial. If you are on this page, I am assuming that you already understand how to make trap beats.
- This is NOT going to teach you mixing fundamentals. Even though this tutorial is designed for beginners and intermediates a like, you must understand the basics of mixing (ie. compression, EQ reverb etc.)
- This is NOT an exact mixing blueprint that can be copied verbatim into your own trap beats. The simple reason is that mixing blueprints do not exist. Every situation is going to be different and will require you to assess the situation accordingly.
But if you get through this entire post, I can promise you that you are going to walk away with a better understanding of how to set yourself up for success and ultimately have better sounding trap beats.
You’ll be better organized, more prepared, and your trap beats will sound much more professional then they ever have.
So let’s get into it.
Organizing Your FL Studio Sessions
The first section of this tutorial is going to deal with the organization.
I can’t stress enough just how important this section is.
It’s so important that I had to break it down into four different sub-sections.
If you think this part is boring (it is) and you decide to skip it, everything else is going to fall apart.
The organization is a kin to the psychological aspect of mixing - the more organized you are, the more creative you will be.
You’ll notice drastic improvements in your mixes over a short period if you stay disciplined, and you organize your sessions.
Organization #1 - Removing the FL Limiter
When you first start up FL Studio, it’s going to come preloaded with the FL Limiter on the Master Bus.
There are ways to create templates to avoid this but for this article, let’s just pretend they don’t exist.
Personally, I don’t like the sound of the FL Limiter. I think it sounds restrictive, and at best it sounds “pumpy”
If you have a ton of experience with compression on the master bus, then go ahead and leave it on.
If you’re still learning - just trust me.
Try it my way for a bit.
If my way doesn’t sound better, then you can go back doing it your way.
Also, a lot of producers like to peg their meters in FL Studio, and we want to avoid that.
The FL Limiter prolongs the point when distortion occurs, and your ear gets used to the over compressed and squashed sound.
So my preference is always to start with nothing on the master bus. Let’s use our ears and our balancing skills to make things sound better!
So here’s what you need to do:
Load up the mixer window and click on the master fader
Find the Fruity Limiter at the bottom of the effects bin and then click on the left down arrow.
Now hover over replace and click on (none)
And there you have it.
You are now FREE and nothing’s holding you back.
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Organization #2 - Session Markers
Session Markers are a great way to navigate your production with a quick glance.
You don’t even have to push play!
Being able to move quickly through different sections of the production is what makes markers so powerful.
Never again will you be lost when looking at your playlist.
And in this video, I walk you through the exact process of how I set the markers up for this particular beat.
I have my style and way of doing things so just use this as a guide.
You can certainly create your own unique labels and sections in your productions.
As long as it makes sense to you!
I am looper at heart. What I mean is, I like to loop sections of the beat when I’m working on it so that I can balance those parts. It’s much more efficient that way. With the markers set up this way in FL Studio, you can now click on each marker, and it will automatically set up loop parameters for you, making it super fast and easy to loop whatever section you want. All you have to do is push CTRL and then click on the label and BOOM!Done.
Organization #3 - The Sequencer & Playlist
Look at you getting all organized!
So now that we’ve got some of the basics behind us, this is where the real work is going to happen.
I’m talking labeling, color coding and rearranging of the patterns and tracks.
You’re going to see exactly how I like to organize my sessions for success.
Personally, I come from other DAWs, like Pro Tools and Sonar, so I’ve picked up certain habits along the way while working in those programs.
I’ve since carried those working habits over to FL Studio, and now I’m sharing them with you.
The only problem with FL Studio is that to create a similar workflow that I’m used to in other DAWs, they make you jump through hoops.
It can be annoying, but the payoff is rewarding.
This is especially true if you have to come back to the session at a later date.
WARNING: There is a lot that’s covered in this video. You may have to watch it a few times to get the hang of things. Good Luck!
Organization #4 - The Mixer
After the playlist is organized, color coded and rearranged, I like to arrange and color code the mixer so that it complements the playlist.
Again, this goes back to working inside of other DAWs like Pro Tools.
The only difference is that Pro Tools will do this automatically for you and in FL Studio you have to do it manually.
Even though you have to do this manually, it’s not too complicated.
With just a few clicks you can get everything into the mixer, colored coded and in order.
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Gain Staging Your Beats
You’ve made it this far, without skipping ahead.
But there’s still some more work to do.
Before you start pushing any faders or adding any plugins, it’s important to make sure your levels are set up for success.
When you’re gain staging in FL Studio, you’re sending proper levels into the FX Bin so that the signal is not distorting or clipping while running through the plugins.
Some plugins are designed to handle the load without clipping, but it’s better to be on the safe side.
If you want clean, clear and punchy beats, this is where it all starts.
Truthfully gain staging happens throughout the entire mix but we need to start somewhere.
So let’s get into it...
When people think of mixing and the actual process of it, the balance would be classified as the starting point.
Even though it’s not the exact starting point, it is where the faders begin to move, and the music starts to come together.
The point of this process is to use our gut to place things in the mix and feel out the vibe of the beat.
If you can get REALLY good at balancing, your trap beat mixes will come together a lot faster.
I almost never add any EQ or compression until I feel like I have the over “feel” of the track in a good place.
From there I can start highlighting frequencies, taking away frequencies I don’t like, and just adding some overall sweetening to the beat.
In this video of the tutorial, I show you how you I achieve the balance to this trap beat in FL Studio.
The Finished Mix
In this video, I show you the what the finished beat sounds like after the mixing has been done.
Unfortunately, the mixing takes so long that I wasn’t able to record the process.
I also talk about any changes that are reflected in the beat, like sample replacement and newly added automation lanes for example.
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Adding Plugin Processing & Effects to Your Trap Beats
In this section of the tutorial, I’m going to go through every sound in the mix and break it down, plugin by plugin.
The goal in this section is to give you the thoughts and reasons behind what I was trying to achieve when mixing each particular sound.
So let’s get right into it.
Processing #1 - Trap Bass
Processing #2 - Trap Drums
Processing #3 - Effects
Processing #4 - Plucked Synths
Processing #5 - Orchestral Instruments
Mix Buss Processing (Mastering)
So at this point in the tutorial, I’m essentially mastering the trap beat.
I use that term extremely loosely, however, because there is so much more involved in the mastering process than just getting the beat loud and adding a couple of EQ curves.
Since I understand that 99% of the people reading and watching this tutorial have absolutely zero interest in paying a mastering engineer, this should do the job in getting you close enough to a professional sounding master.
For this particular beat I had a few goals:
- I was trying to round out the bottom a bit to give the track some more weight.
- I wanted to highlight the top end.
- I wanted to connect all of the instruments together (you can call it “glue”)
- I also wanted to make it loud and proud.
See how I achieved all of that in the video below.
A collection of high quality 808 bass samples recorded and mixed 100% through analog gear.
Automation is where your trap beat comes to life.
If you aren’t familiar with automation and have never used it before, just take a day and listen to some EDM music.
The automation used in that genre is super noticeable but at the same time, it’s very tastefully done and works well.
You don’t have to use the same obvious automation tactics in your trap beats.
The idea is to hear the automation and figure out why they are using it.
How did it make you feel? Excited? Anxious? Elated?
These are all feelings that you want to pull out of the listener when using automation.
Use it to your advantage to draw the listener in and make it a more enjoyable listening experience for them.
They’ll walk away loving the beat, but they won’t know exactly why.
With that said, I try to get away with using as little as I can, because I would rather use the production and arrangement phase to “play” in the dynamics.
And We’re Done
Thanks for sticking around until the end, assuming you got through everything.
I hope you learned a lot!
So take this new found knowledge and put it into action.
Leave a comment and let me know how it’s helped you out!