Mixing for Vinyl – Everything to Know

While CD’s and subsequently music pirating and most recently music streaming have largely taken the place of vinyl, it has been experiencing a small resurgence as of late, having been steadily growing for the last decade.

According to Statista by way of the RIAA, vinyl sales reached 43.4 million in 2023 which accounted for 8% of all recorded music revenues that year.

vinyl sales statista

That’s a number not seen since 1988, and the resurgence is trending higher and higher each year.

Most passionate music fans cite the sound quality or experience as the reasons for purchasing the physical medium that is vinyl when it’s certainly not the most convenient form of music listening.

Part of that quality comes with a few limitations which you don’t get with CDs or digital music, so let’s talk about how mixing for vinyl is a different process.

Mixing for Vinyl

There are a few things to understand when it comes to mixing for vinyl as it does come with certain limitations as I just mentioned.

mixing for vinyl

An obvious question is do you need a separate mix for vinyl? Like I mentioned in my article on mastering for vinyl, not necessarily.

But if you want the BEST possible sounding mix for a vinyl release, here are the things to keep in mind/change as you approach mixing for vinyl.


There are a few things which can throw the needle out of the groove.

The bass, or specifically the width of the bass is one such example. This normally isn’t an issue in most genres and mixes because I recommend as part of my low end mixing that everything below 100-200Hz should be centered in the mix.

This has nothing to do with vinyl, but rather this is where the anchors of the rhythm of your bass reside in the kick and bass in particular. These should be centered to ensure that they’re equal in presence across the mix no matter where someone is standing in relation to the speakers. Also, keeping the bass in the center helps to keeps the mix clean and create space for the mids and higher frequencies on the sides.

EDM as a genre is a possible exception where wider bass synths are commonplace. Typically the vinyl cutting service you use will tell you if they notice or have any issues before they go ahead and replicate a huge order.

High Frequencies/Sibilance

High frequencies and in particular sibilance can cause distortion when printed to vinyl.

As such, an effective use of de-essing smooths out the sibilant sounds of certain consonants like “T” and especially “S” sounds.

I put together a tutorial on how to turn a multiband compressor into a de-esser if you don’t have a dedicated de-esser, so refer to that to help ensure your vocals sound good.

multiband compressor de-esser

A word of warning I always mention when talking de-essing – this process involves attenuating frequencies around 7-11k where sibilance typically exists. Overdoing the suppression at this frequency range on a vocal smooths sibilance out to a fault so the vocalist sounds like they have a lisp.

It’s also a good idea to low pass tracks which don’t need high frequencies as this helps to minimize distortion at high frequencies and adds to a better sounding vinyl mix for that trademark warm sound that the medium is known for.

Sequencing/Dynamic Range

A practical limitation of vinyl lies in how vinyl records are setup. The grooves on the outside of a record are much wider than they are in the middle. Wider grooves can more easily accommodate a lot of dynamic range.

As such, the louder and more dynamic songs should be placed first on each side of the record and ideally end with the quietest, tamest songs.

Putting a louder, dynamic song at the end of a side of vinyl can cause the needle to jump out of the groove. If you own a number of vinyl records, you’ve probably noticed that the tracklist has likely been switched from the digital/main version on a few of them for this very reason.

Admittedly this is more of a mastering issue when we’re talking sequencing.


One more thing to mention which is somewhat in the same vein is that vinyl doesn’t handle excessive volume very well.

It’s not uncommon to drop the overall volume of an album by a few LUFs, backing off the limiter.

Admittedly this is another issue which is likely more geared toward the mastering stage, I oftentimes get a lot of mixes for mastering which are ridiculously loud and have been limited beyond capacity.

If someone is purchasing and playing a vinyl record, they aren’t looking for a competitive volume which has the dynamics squeezed out of it.

The best strategy if you’re going to artificially turn up the volume for a vinyl mix or master using a limiter, for example, is to simply turn it up enough to ensure there’s zero gain reduction necessary.

Those are the main things to keep in mind when mixing for vinyl.

Keep your louder, bassier songs earlier in the sequencing, keep the bass mono, use de-essing to minimize distortion, turn up the volume just enough to ensure there’s no gain reduction on a master bus limiter, and you’ll have a mix which will sound great on vinyl!

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