Audio mixing sure is a challenging job. Some days it can be fun, other times it might be a disaster. The most important – and the hardest at the same time – period in your mixing career is the road between understanding your mix is lacking something and the moment when you finally achieve that first-class, radio-worthy sound.
Obviously, bettering yourself is not going to be easy. You need to put in a lot of effort for your mixes to sound chart-ready. Our team has created a list of tips to help you out on this journey to perfection.
Develop your hearing
This has been mentioned countless times already, but still, it needs to be repeated again. You really need to work on your theoretic knowledge before you start doing something. Get to know which aspects create a fine mix, what each element stands for.
First, you need to gain an understanding of the frequency spectrum. You should learn to tell apart the frequencies in a song. This can be achieved with a good sound system. If you are not in the studio or simply don’t have one, you can use isodynamic, or planar, headphones. Once you get familiar with frequencies, mixing will be much easier for you.
Less is more
Yes, this famous quote applies here as well. Be careful with your adjustments. Try not to add too much gain to your mix. We understand that you might want a “louder” mix, but there are better options to reach it.
When you have a problem while equalizing, it is better to cut a flawed sound, rather than to conceal it with other loud ones. If you just cover up the problems like that, your mix will be overloaded. Try cutting down different frequencies, maybe they stop your mix from sounding the way you want.
Sort out your tracks. Put them into different categories – drums, vocals, melody, etc. This significantly quickens and simplifies the process. This has a psychological effect as well. When your work is organized, you will not stress so much.
Quality over personal wishes
As a sound engineer, you should always think about the quality first. Music should come before your ego. Even when you think people won’t notice, give it your all and do not slack.
This is especially important when you are working for someone else rather than yourself. It can be tough, but always think of your clients’ wishes. This earns you not only a paycheck, but a good reputation too.
Harmonize your lows
Your kick and bass should exist together in synergy. This means that one should not overshadow another. Sometimes you will notice that when these two play together in the same spot, you cannot hear one properly. This happens because both are fighting for the same place in the spectrum. What you need to do is try and give each sound its space, where they won’t disturb each other.
Know your plugins
Once you try them out, two plugins with supposedly the same functions can, in fact, sound different. Take some time to test your plugins, learn what each does to your sound. This will streamline your work as well.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Yes, gathering skills and knowledge is important, but that sure is not all. Have fun! Try a different approach every time. If you are adventurous, you will better yourself even more. This is also when you discover your personal style. Staying in your old tracks (pun intended) will just stop you from progressing.
To sum up, here is the checklist for you to remember :
- Develop your hearing
- Learn that less is more
- Stay organized
- Put quality first
- Pay attention to lows
- Know your plugins
- Get out of your comfort zone
We hope that these tips help you and good luck on your journey to success!