16 Tips To Make Your Mixes Better
Todd Simpson
Jun 27 2020, 08:29 PM
GMC:er
Posts: 20.609
Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA


1.)GET IT RIGHT AT THE SOURCE
“GARBAGE IN GARBAGE OUT”. It’s been true since day one. If you record bad quality signal going in, then it will sound bad when played back (coming out). It’s that simple. You gotta get it right as you go in. Use a decent mic, use good mic placement technique. Make sure you can hear what is going in to your system. Don’t just trust it to sound good. Make sure.

2.)GET THE BALANCE RIGHT FIRST
Volume Balance is key. It’s constantly changing and sometimes requires automation. Before you start with E.Q. or compression, make sure your volume balance is good.

3.)RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK
Every second of mixing is a race against the clock. Your ears start to fatigue as soon as you start to mix. If you mix loud, it’s even more of a race against the clock as you ears will fatigue more quickly from loud noise. Don’t waste time.

4.)FOCUS ON THE KEY ELEMENTS
Focus on the stuff that matters, e.g. what the audience is going to be focused on. The VOCAL track/tracks are the most important thing in a given mix, if it has vocals. Getting the vocal right is crucial. It’s the thing that people will focus on above all else. If it’s a instrumental track, find the main instrument and treat it as the vocal track. Don’t get stuck spending forever on putting E.Q. and compression on the cowbell/etc.

5.)LOOP THE LOUDEST SECTION OF THE SONG
Go to the chorus/climax and loop it. MIx it first. If you mix the loudest section first, you have your volume balance. Then you can use that as the reference for the rest of the track.

6.)START WITH THE BIG PICTURE

Don’t get too focused on individual tracks to early in the process. Get the overall mix working. Start with mix bus processing for the entire drum kit, all of the vocals etc. Get those working.

7.)AVOID THE SOLO BUTTON
The listener is never going to hear a channel in solo. If you need to hear a track, just push that track louder and you can still hear it in the context of the mix. Without the mix present you are mixing blind.

8.)HAVE INTENTION BEHIND EVERY MOVE
Don’t just do things because you always do them. Use your ears first. Let your ears guide you. Don’t let your habits rule your mixing. Each mix is different. Trust your ears.

9.)CHECK YOUR MOVES

Use the bypass button and trust your ears. When you add a plugin, does it really sound better? Trust your ears.

10.)USE GOOD REFERENCE TRACKS

Pull some similar tracks in a genre in your daw when doing a mix. Compare your mix to each one. Does it sound like it belongs with these? Or not?

11.)MIX IN MONO
This helps you create space using techniques other than panning. You can create dept and distance with volume and E.Q. Then toward the end, bring stereo back ijn. Panning comes in to play at that point. This results in a HUGE mix.

12.)LISTEN BACK ON MULTIPLE MONITORS AND HEAD PHONES
This is why professional studios use more than one pair of monitors. You are resetting your ears each time you switch monitors. Also try to use different playback systems. Play it in your car, use your ear buds, use everything.

13.)MIX AT A LOW VOLUME
If you can hear other people talking in the room, then you are mixing at a good level. You don’t want to mix to loud or you will fatigue your ears.

14.)TAKE BREAKS
Each time you take a break you are giving your ears a chance to reset as well as your brain. You need to take frequent breaks to allow yourself to have fresh ears during the entire process.

15.)ASSUME VOLUME AUTOMATION WILL BE REQUIRED

This doesn’t mean you must automate everything, just be aware that some may be required.

16.)YOU DON”T NEED TO GO BROKE BUYING PLUGINS
It’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools. You should be able to get a good mix with just the stock plugins that come with your daw. Also, with too many plugins, you can get buried with too many choices. Try to get used to using stock plugins and once you have the ability to get a good mix with stock bits, then it’s time to add some specialty plugins

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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Jun 27 2020, 08:30 PM
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