Mixing is probably the most requested topic on any music production-related channel. In this blog we're covering 6 fundamental mixing tips every music producer should know.
Table of Contents:
1 - Reverb
Let's Talk about reverb. First, reverb is very important to fill space, but on the other hand there is a danger in using too much reverb. When you work on a track you surely always have different reverbs on different elements. It depends on your plugin, but most of the time your VSTs come with different presets and settings. Make sure you don't use too many different types of reverb. Try to stay with 2-4 different types. This will help to clean up the mix.
The second tip is to use sends. Especially when you work on vocals. The main focus for vocals is clarity, you want the listener to understand each word. Make sure you don't put the reverb straight on the main vocal channel. Instead, use sends so you achieve a nice reverb touch but the actual vocal won't get destroyed or washed out. Make sure the predelay time is right and maybe even sidechain-compress the reverb to the vocal so it doesn't get in the way.
The Fabfilter reverb comes with an implemented EQ which is super useful so your reverb can't "reverb" muddy frequencies like the lows and low mids. Reverbing low mids usually end up in a muddy mix. What you can do if you don't have a VST like the one from FabFilter is use send channels. Just put an EQ before the reverb. That way the lows will be cut out before reverb can even touch those frequencies.
2 - Close your eyes
Let's talk about something a lot of people feel weird about when they first use it or read it. You might have found yourself so often making visual changes in a compressor for example that actually decreases the quality of a certain sound. The tip here is to close your eyes and click the bypass button while your eyes are closed. Now, blindly decide which one sounds better. You often notice that the sound you're compressing sounds better without the actual compression. The same counts for other mixing VSTs. Not only are you making the mixing decision based on just your ears, but your listening senses are heightened.
3 - Mono
Mixing in mono often feels outdated and there are fewer and fewer mono systems out there every day. But mixing in mono is still a super nice technique to find the perfect balance between all your elements. Remember: "What sounds good in mono, will sound incredible in stereo!" Just use the mono knob on your master channel and at least check your mix in mono a couple of times throughout your session. Mono is especially very helpful to balance your drums right: you instantly hear when something is too loud.
4 - Reference
Using reference tracks is the best way to learn music production and especially mixing. When you first start out, you can't even know how a good mix sounds. You may say that you listen to music every day and you definitely know how music sounds. But as you're working on a project you kind of lose touch of that and get used to how your mix sounds. Comparing your mix to a professional track will instantly let you know in which areas your mix lacks.
5 - Levels
Properly leveling your mix is the foundation of the mixing process. As this is a topic that requires a lot of information and a step-by-step guide, we will cover this in next week's blog! Make sure to check that one out.
6 - Mixing solo
When working on certain elements you may need to listen to things in solo. That's not wrong, but try to implement checking in solo and in full context when you apply changes. Every element affects every element, so it's important to listen to the effect on the whole mix when you make changes.
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