Mixing is a skill that needs to be worked on like anything else – be it playing an instrument (for me – my drums) or decorating fantastic cakes (don’t know where that example came from – blame my wife!)
It’s a craft that needs to be developed it doesn’t just happen. You need to put the hours in to make your mixing skills better. Here are some thoughts and ideas as to how to set mixing into practice – some of the time the excuses are in our own heads, and it’s just a case of getting over that and getting on with bettering our skills.
Accept you’ve got limitations
We’ve all got limitations in one way, or another – it’s no bad thing.
If you think, you’ve got limitations in your mixing ability that’s fine. If you don’t try and mix though, you’ll never make mistakes. If you keep putting off mixing that ‘one’ track waiting until you’ve got that ‘special’ plugin or that bit of gear that’s always going to make it sound better – it generally won’t. All you’re doing is putting off the process of mixing which means, you’ll never learn, – it’s good to make mistakes!
Limit your mixing time
Without an idea as to how long you’re going to give yourself to mix a track you’ll have more reasons not to finish it! If you’re not setting yourself a time to complete, you endlessly drift trying out different EQs/compressors and their combinations thereof on each of the individual channels and never committing to any mix decisions. Set a timer – Do it, you won’t regret it!
Don’t just ‘pile on the plugins’
Just because you think you need to use plugins – know why you’re using them.
I’m not sure if this is a human nature thing, but we associate that more plugins on a channel instantly means that it’s going to make it sound better – WRONG!
What it will probably do is slow down your mix process and over complicate it. At a bare minimum, all your channels should have a high pass filter on them but more EQ and compression doesn’t have to be a given! Remember ‘Less is more’.
Do it as much as possible
You know the saying – practice makes perfect. You will get better at mixing the more you do it. You’ll also get faster. If you’re not doing it consistently, you won’t be getting in the practice. It’s the same with anything – it’s a skill that needs to be developed.
There are plenty of options available to get in on the action to practice and hone your skills. There are online classes that release a song a month for you to mix, and they’ll then give feedback on your mix and what you need to do to get better. There are even just songs available for you to download in stem format for you to try to mix – do a Google search.
You don’t just have to limit the mix to your own music you’ve produced. You might find that by doing different genres it will also stretch your mixing abilities too!
Use reference mixes when you’re mixing
For me, this was a revelation to me in my mixing studio! Get a track that is within the same genre as the music you’re mixing and compare your mix to the professional mix. How does it sound? Do the levels sound comparable? Is the Bass too loud or too quiet? What about the reverb on the snare?
You get the idea – compare your mix in every detail to the reference mix. They probably won’t stack up exactly like the reference mix and more than likely they’ll be differences in instruments and instrumentation but it will undoubtedly give you a much better horizon to aim for!
Here’s to your mixing success!