10 Killer Mixing Tips That Will Professional Your Sound
Remove the sub bass frequencies of every instrument except the kick and bass. Low-frequency dirt and mud hide in the most unexpected places. These hidden artifacts can disturb or add mud to your sub-bass. High-frequency instruments like hihats, tamborines, and shakers are notorious for hiding low frequency dirt that may not be able to hear. High-frequency FX may be hiding some of these low-frequency artifacts as well. A couple instruments hiding low frequency artifacts may not pose an issue to your sub bass, but, too many of these untreated instruments may build up too much dirt causing your sub bass to become muddy. I simple fix to this is to add an EQ to each and every instrument except your kick and sub bass. Toggle the low-cut filter on that EQ and cut out frequencies up to 100 hz. This type of filter will not effect the quality sound in any way, but, it will remove the low-frequency artifacts from so that your sub bass can go undisturbed.
Use a reference plugin to balance your mix. There is no closer way to reference a professional mix than using a reference plugin. With a reference plugin, I can compare any part of my mix to a professional song as fast as possible. My favorite reference plugin to use is called Reference 2. To use this reference plugin, you drag and drop a professional song that is dynamically similar to your song into the plugin. This plugin will now allow you to play back and compare your song with your reference song. The magic of this plugin is that it matches the volume of your song with the reference song automatically. This effect allows you to easily hear discrepancies in your mix compared to the reference mix as you switch back and forth between each mix.
EQ your reverbs. Reverb is a wide, full spectrum sound. The issue with reverb being such a sonically large sound is that it naturally takes up a lot of room in your mix. Reverb takes up a lot of headroom and can add mud to your mix without you even realizing it. What you want to do in order for your reverb to fit in your mix is EQ it. every EQ plugin has an EQ module… I like to cut out all frequencies up to 500 hz, and dampen the high frequencies to my liking… this doesnt damage the quality of the reverb in any way and now the reverb fits nicely in the mix, which is what we want. It’s so easy to slap a reverb on a sound and move on without touching… but next time you slap on a reverb plugin, take that extra second to EQ it. And youll thank me later.
Try balancing your mix in mono. Learning to balance my music in mono was an absolute game changer for me. The challenge with balancing in stereo is that wide stereo sounds have a lot of fake loudness. In other words, we perceive wide sounds to be louder than they actually are. So, when you balance in stereo, your perception of what you are actually hearing may be skewed at times, making it more difficult to balance your track. When you put your entire mix in mono (I like to do this by putting an Imager plugin on the master), the misconception of wide sound is eliminated and the entire mix is audibly right in front of you. This is a tough concept to explain via so I do encourage you to refer to the video above for a visual representation of mixing in mono.
Don’t mix your song the same day you made it. Your brain and ears need a break after the mental strain of writing music. After hours of writing music, your ears become fatique. When your ears become fatigue, you lack the ability to actually hear your mix. Sure, you can ‘hear’ your mix when your ears are fatigue, but, your ability to judge the dynamics and balance of your mix will be absent until you rest your ears. So, when you finish writing a song… give yourself a break, go to sleep, and wake up the next day and have a dedicated mixing session. The results of this will be a lethal mix.
Consolidate layered instruments. Mixing is an organization game. It just makes everything easier on the eyes and easier on the brain when your instruments are consolidated and organized. Common instruments that I usually consolidate are going drums and synths. Let me break this down… Very often I will open up a mix sent to me by a client and there may be three layers of hihats and multiple layers of the same synth lead. You don’t need multiple layers of instruments that are doing the same thing. So, anytime you layer an instrument, consolidate that instrument to make your mixing session easier. The smaller amount of layers or stems in your mixing session, the more effective you can be at managing the mix.
Mix for other people. One of the best ways to develop your mixing flow and skill is by mixing for other people. Mixing is very logical which makes it much easier to approach and practice mixing when you have no emotional connection to the song. When you mix your own music, you have way too many emotions wrapped up in the song and you worry about little pointless details that nobody is going to pay attention to anyway. This over thinking fatigues your brain and takes away from your ability to mix a song effectively.
Mix a song of yours and then pay a pro to mix that same song. I used make my some of my students do this and they loved it. This will give you a real life comparison of how good or bad your are at mixing one of your songs compared to a pro. Also, you’ll be able to compare and contrast exactly where you need to improve. You can hire mixing engineers on Soundbetter.com, Airgigs, or Fiverr… i personally recommend soundbetter.com as I feel they have the best pool of talent. So, mix a song of yours, then, send the unmixed version of your song to a pro and have them mix the song. Compare your mix to theirs. I guarantee the results will blow you away.
Avoid mixing on consumer-grade headphones.Examples of headphones you should avoid mixing on are Apple Earbuds, Dre beats, or any headphones or stereo systems you would find at your general big box retailer like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc. The problem is that these speaker systems are not studio-grade and do not deliver a flat, true sound. Consumer-grade systems process music to sound better on that speaker system and the result of this is that you’re not actually hearing what the music sounded like when it left the production studio. Contrary to consumer-grade headphones and stereo systems, studio monitors deliver a flat, true sound. You’re going to need a set of studio monitors and/or studio monitor headphones in order to properly hear your mix. I recommend Audio Technica AT M50x headphones and Yamaha HS8 studio monitors.
Start a freelance business mixing for other artists. A lot of people make and record music, but not a lot of people know how to mix it. This means that there is a huge opportunity and demand for freelance mixing engineers to make some serious side or full-time income. Before my success on Youtube, I made around 6 to 9 thousand dollars per month mixing for other artists. This money allowed me to quit my job and actually focus on music full time and out of all the tricks on this list, this trick really did change my life the most. It’s when you can focus on music full time that your skill really skyrockets.