After my last post, I thought I could take it one step further and give you a few tips that will instantly improve your mixes and the greatest part is that it does not cost a penny! Yes, totally FREE with no gear, plugins or anything else to purchase! These are concepts that have worked for many mix engineers for decades and when I started to use these techniques several years ago, I started to see major improvements to my final mixes. So here we go……
1. Pick the section of the song that has the most impact to mix first. Maybe that’s the final chorus or maybe it’s the bridge section. You want to find a section where all the instruments are playing and it has the most going on. The concept is to make this particular section, the climax of the song sound as BIG as possible. This is where you want the most punch / payoff. If you mix this section first and make the track “slammin” then everything else will fall nicely underneath. What you don’t want to do is mix the verse first, make that part of the song sound amazing and push everything to the limit, then you have no where to go from there. In other words, you don’t want the verses of the track sound “BIGGER” than the chorus or climax of the song. Make sense?
2. Never mix in solo mode except for the first instrument you choose to mix. Let me explain and use a simple example. Let’s say you usually mix your drums first and mix your kick drum as the first track to EQ, compress, mix etc. Go ahead and solo the kick drum and process you’re the track as normal. Next you’re ready to do the snare right? Ok, go ahead and solo the snare but do not mute the kick drum you just worked on. Mix the snare while listening to that kick drum. Make the snare sound good playing along with the kick. Next up, mix the toms, once again solo the first tom track and process that track while keeping the kick and snare playing as well. Keep repeating this until you work your through all the tracks in the song. It’s important to make things sound good together and not just soloed. Who cares if you have this amazing snare drum sound in solo but when you put it in the context of the mix the snare sounds muddy or too harsh. Just like mixing in mono, if this is a new concept to you it may be a challenge at first because you really need to listen and train your ears to focus, especially when you apply EQ. It’s much more difficult to hear the changes in EQ when the track your working on is NOT in solo mode. However, once you get good at this technique you will not only be able to mix at a faster pace but the final result will be much more desirable.
3. Speaking of mixing in mono……Do most of your mixing in mono. You may have heard of this before. Mixing in mono will force you to do a better job at balancing levels and getting your EQ right so that you can hear all instruments coming right up the middle. If you get a balanced mono mix where all the instruments have clarity and balance, when you flip back to stereo, your mix will sound much more professional. Yes, it’s much harder to mix in mono and in mono mode you will instantly hear where your mix is going wrong. So, my suggestion would be to do 90% of your mix in mono. Towards the end of the mix, when you think you “got it right” flip back to stereo and put on the final touches, panning etc. If you have never done this before you will more than likely hate it at first because it’s a lot more challenging in my opinion. However it will develop your ear much more quickly and it will absolutely sharpen your skills as a mixer.
See you next time for PT 2..........
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