#1. Make room for the bass!
Cut away the low frequencies on all instruments except for the bass tracks. This will ensure that there are no other instruments fighting for space in the low end area, cluttering up and overshadowing the clean and powerful bass sound.
Use panning to create more space between the instruments. Avoid instruments of the same range to overlap in the stereo spectrum. It’s a common beginner’s mistake to overcrowd space either with placement (panning) and/or frequency (too much stuff going on in the bass), so make sure to spread things out properly – remember: reference tracks a LOT! Also, having a wide stereo field gives a pleasant auditory experience, and it also adds more to the stereo dimension.
#3. Have an objective before executing
Before reaching for the EQ or compressor, think about what you’re trying to achieve. If you have no specific goal in mind while turning and twisting the settings of the EQ, you might end up just hurting your mix in the end.
Take frequent breaks to rest and reset your ears now and then, preventing hearing fatigue. The longer you mix without taking breaks for your ears – the more fatigued and less accurate your hearing will be.
#5. Referencing is king
Always use a reference track, and keep listening to it frequently to reset your ears. The reference track will adjust your ear to a balanced professional sound, making it easier for you to hear the flaws in your own mix – flaws you usually would get used to otherwise and overlook.
#6. Don’t overuse reverb
A common beginner mistake is to overuse reverb in the beginning. This ends up muddying up and drowning your mix in unnecessary reverb. Push back the reverb a bit and work on your orchestration! Reverb is an extremely powerful tool, but be careful so you don’t overuse it.
#7. Make things sit where they should
We, as composers and producers, have a limited frequency space in which we can add on sounds. Be sure that you fill up the frequency spectrum of your mix properly, and not have too many things battling for space. If you have too much stuff going on in the 120-250 Hz area, it will sound crazy muddy! Remove some of that mud from some of your tracks, and choose what should sit where.
#8. Monitors AND headphones
An important, but somewhat overlooked part of mixing, is to monitor your mix on several speakers – including headphones. If you’re mixing on studio monitors, you should check your mix on headphones every once in a while. See if you find anything that sounds odd, that you didn’t catch while listening to the monitors. Also try to listen to your mix in your car, or on other systems to see if it sounds balanced and nice on different setups.
#9. Don’t overuse plugins
Don’t put too much stuff on there that’s not required. Often times, all that is needed is a bit of careful EQ’ing, panning and volume editing, some compressing, and your mix will be shining as the moon.
#10. Cut, don’t boost – but not always!
While this is an age old mixing-tip, it does have a lot of merit, but sometimes you do want to boost the frequencies in your EQs. Often times you want to cut away, because it’s much easier to make room for other sounds, but sometimes you want to push that little extra frequency range up a notch which is perfectly fine – as long as you have a clear objective!
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