Summing in a Mix within your DAW

Summing in your DAW, how to manage gains and frequencies for maintaining headroom and clarity.

Gain Staging

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One of the biggest problems facing producers, all producers, is that of summing. A clear explanation is needed to understand what happens to audio in a mix project when summed and I hope that I have provided that both with the description below and the supplied video tutorial.


When identical frequencies that exist in two different layers (channels) are combined, you invariably get a gain boost at those frequencies.
If you take two sine waves of the same frequency and amplitude, and sum them you will get a gain increase of 6dB (example below).

The waveform on the top is at ‑9 dB, and when duplicated and summed into a new single mono file we get a value of ‑3 dB. This is important information to take on board and nail into your brain: you can imagine what happens when you have a mix with a huge number of channels all summing and clipping the output simply because shared frequencies are always summed at the output.

The subject of Summing – why it happens and how to manage it are too complex for some to grasp. Let me simplify it for you and get you managing your gains in no time.

In the video I show you how you can determine which frequencies are shared and which are summed. I explain how we use the GUI of DAW channel eq to tell us what is happening where in the mix. I explain every step of the process using a working mix.

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Summing within your DAW
  • Metering for Control
  • Gain Structuring your Project/Mixes
  • Loudness Compensation
  • Clashing and Smearing Frequencies
  • Peak and RMS Control
  • Managing Gains