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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Summing in a Mix within your DAW is a detailed video tutorial explaining what summing is and how to avoid it when mixing.

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- is too complex for some to grasp. Let me simplify it for you and get you managing your gains in no time.

In the Summing in a Mix within your DAW 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.

The plugin used in this video:

Steinberg Cubase

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

If you found this tutorial helpful then give these a try:

Avoiding Masking and Summing of frequencies by Panning

The Pan Law within your DAW explained in detail

ISP – Intersample Peaks

Total and Partial Phase cancellation

Headroom and Dynamic Range

Stealing Transients – Maximising Loudness

Gain Staging using VU Meters

Gain Staging using True Peak Meters

MixBus Strategies

Mixing Hip Hop