We all know mixing can be hard. For professionals there’s always a new challenge, and for beginners it’s hard to know where to start. So if you’re feeling a bit stuck try going through this list of 1o mixing tips. Although some of these tips may seem like common sense, the idea is to make sure you are focussing on the right things, and not overcomplicating your workflow.
1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
Before you start mixing you should know how you want your mix to sound. Is it going to be compressed and loud? Or do you want a dynamic mix with lots of expression? What genre is the music and how does other music with that genre or a similar genre sound?
2. REFERENCE TRACKS
Always use reference tracks. Load up a track with a similar sounding mix to what you want and reference your mix with this reference track throughout the mixing process. You may even have multiple tracks you want to reference, import all your reference tracks into your DAW so that you don’t have to switch programs for referencing.
3. WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?
If you’re adding compression, reverb, EQ or other effects make sure you know why you’re doing it. Many people make mistakes such as over compressing tracks when compression is not needed in the mix. Ask yourself why this track needs this effect before getting too friendly with your plugins.
A good mix takes time. Don’t make sloppy decisions because your getting tired or bored, if you feel like your spending too much time on a particular track try working on a different track for a while. Be patient and be ready to listen to the mix over and over again.
5. LISTEN FOR THE SUBTLETIES
Listen carefully and train your ears to be able to notice subtle adjustments. This could be noticing the slight differences when adjusting the gain on a reverb bus, or the difference you hear when getting the phase aligned on drum tracks.
6. LISTEN WITH YOUR EARS NOT YOUR EYES
Spend some time once in a while listening to the mix without watching it playing on your screen. Let your ears be the judge and try not to let your eyes trick you into thinking you can notice a sound more just because you raised the gain level on the screen.
7. UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOUDER AND BETTER
When listening to music the louder it is the better we perceive it to be. This is no secret, it’s the main motivation behind the loudness wars and the ever increasing compression rates in commercial music. Louder just sounds better. Always keep this in mind when mixing and make sure when you add effects or plugins to a track that it’s not just sounding better because the peak gain just crept up a few dB.
8. DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS
Even though the mix may sound great through your headphones it may not sound the same once you hear it through your stereo or another pair of headphones. Always listen to your mix through different speakers and headphones. In the case of speakers its also a good idea to listen on a different speaker setup in a different room or environment because each environment has different acoustics. Take note of what you hear and if there’s anything that may need to change in your mix.
9. TAKE A BREAK
Take a break once in a while and come back to it with a clear head. You’ll be amazed at what you notice after you come back to it with a fresh perspective.
10. TRY DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES
If your not getting the result your looking for try something different. Maybe a new reverb or compression plugin, something different with your EQ. You could even replace a recording with samples and see if you get a better sound that way. Repeating the same things isn’t going to get you new results so switch things up a bit.
BONUS TIP: MUSIC PRODUCTION LESSONS
There’s always room to increase your knowledge, and when it comes to mixing you can never know enough. Even if you’ve been mixing music for ten years, there’s always somebody out there who you can learn new techniques from. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge about music production YouTube is a great place to start. It can take some time to find the really great advice on there, but if you search around enough you can find it. Some of the channels I regularly check out are ADSR Music Production Tutorials and Future Music Magazine.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Try to keep these tips in mind when working on your next mix.
ANY TIPS TO ADD?
Do you have any tips or tricks that you use for your mixes? If so I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below and tell me what helps you get your mixes finished.