7 Proven Tips to Take Your Audio Mixing Skills to the Next Level
Audio mixing is a job that can be so rewarding at times – and so frustrating at other times. I believe that the most difficult time in the journey to mixing mastery is the period between the moment you realize that your mixes just don’t meet up and the moment your mixes start sounding like they are fresh off the charts! That’s why we are sharing some music mixing tips to help you out,
This article will help you to reduce the gap between these two periods by introducing you to 7 crucial audio mixing tips that can help you with your journey.
Music mixing is both an art and a science… and it’s not easy! Only if you dedicate time and commit to continuous learning and improvement, you’ll walk down the path of producing mixes that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the major-label productions.
Here Are Critical Music Mixing Tips:
- Work on your ears
- More cuts, fewer boosts
- Organize your work
- Top-quality must always be a priority
- Low-end lock
- Get familiar with your plugins
- Be creative
Now let’s dive a bit deeper into each one of them.
#1: Work on your ears
This may sound cliche, but you really need to know what a good audio mix actually sounds like before you can replicate it.
There are several elements that make up a good mix, and each of these elements has its place in the song.
You should be able to listen to a song and recognize which frequencies you’re hearing. This is where having a good listening system comes in.
Your playback system should be able to give something close to an accurate representation of the frequency spectrum.
Even if you’re not in the studio, you can use quality planar headphones to achieve this. The frequency spectrum is one aspect that you must really understand.
You should be able to hear a sound and know what range of frequencies it came from. When your listening skills are sharp, your approach to music mixing will be more strategic, rather than a simple trial and error method.
#2: More cuts, fewer boosts
It’s always better to cut than to boost. You may have heard this several times, but I’ll say it again; that’s because it’s true. This is more applicable when adjusting your levels and EQ-ing. When adjusting your gain levels, you need to be careful not to over push those faders so that you can have enough headroom. If you want a loud mix, there are better ways you can go about it. Pushing up all the faders is not a good approach.
When you’re EQ-ing, it’s always better to find any problematic frequencies and cut it, rather than boost other frequencies to cover up the problem. If you do this, you’re setting up your mix for some problems. Rather than increase those higher frequencies for brightness, why not cut some low mids and see what happens first? Maybe the brightness is there, but it’s being overshadowed by something else.
#3: Organize your work
Arrange and group all tracks accordingly, before you start mixing the song. It helps to keep your project on track, and you’ll get to have better access to different aspects of your work.
It’s also better if you categorize your work process into different segments. Name all of your tracks and files at once, arrange vocals and instruments in their different groups. This helps you both physically and psychologically. Group all your tracks according to their place in the music.
You can have the rhythm section which contains the drums, percussion, and other instruments that control the groove.
You can also have the melody section; which has the lead vocals and other melodic instruments. On the other hand, you may choose to mix them along the lines of vocals and instruments only.
#4: Top-quality must always be a priority
At times mix engineers get carried away and want to put their stamp on the music. It may be in the form of a signature process that you’re familiar with, or it may be just a matter of preference.
Always remember that the music is bigger than your personal preference. Mix the music how it’s supposed to sound, even if most people wouldn’t notice. When I listen to some classics, the mix quality still gives me goosebumps.
Funny enough, when they were made, most people didn’t even have the adequate playback systems to enjoy the mixing masterpieces that they had.
Most of them listened to these songs on radio and gramophone records. Imagine how those songs would sound today if the engineers simply mixed the songs to be heard on old transistor radios.
The other side of this is the artist or label preference. If you’re a commercial mix engineer, you should satisfy your client first, before any other thing. That’s how you get paid and get recommended.
#5: Low-end lock
The whole music must sound as one unit, but it’s even more important for the low end to tight. You must manage the kick and bass relationship very carefully. I may not delve into too many specifics, but here’s what to look out for when in your overall low end.
The kick and bass usually have the most important parts on their sound around the same frequencies. This means that anytime the kick and bass sound together, you may not hear either one clear enough.
This is because they’re contending for the same spot on the frequency spectrum. Hence, your goal is to create space for both to coexist without getting in the way of each other.
#6: Get familiar with your plugins
With the amount of access we have today, there are so many tools that we can use to achieve good results.
Plugins play a huge role in audio mixing today. One secret about plugins is that although two plugins may perform the same function theoretically, they may still sound different in practice.
At times, it’s because they perform their functions in different ways. On the other hand, some plugins are made to emulate some classic analog gear, so they are made to sound like them.
Either way, it’s important that you know what exactly a plugin does to your sound. This way, you will make more calculated moves, and do away with guesswork.
You can open your DAW and play around with your plugins occasionally, figure out how they affect your sound and know what each knob is doing.
#7: Be creative
After you have learned the ropes of audio mixing, it’s time to be yourself and get creative. Don’t just do things the same way every time; you won’t get better results that way.
We can give you numerous music mixing tips but you need to be adventurous and try out stuff. There are some things you will learn this way, and it’s in moments like this that you can carve a niche for yourself and discover your uniqueness.
You may not be adding anything to the song in terms of the material, but your mixing can also tell a captivating story.
Despite implementing the previously mentioned music mixing tips, learning how to mix like a pro takes a very long time, patience and dedication. Our aim with this blog post was to expand your audio mixing knowledge with some crucial tips. Of course, the list is not exhaustive, but the tips listed are crucial if you want to take that leap from putting out mediocre mixes to having industry standard work.
Furthermore, if you are ambitious about your music and want to produce your songs for successful commercial release, Supreme Tracks’s acclaimed mixing engineers are at your service. We’ve helped over 1,000 independent artists, like yourself, to produce world-class tracks and experience new levels of success on the music market.
Use our contact form to tell us about your project and let’s see if we are a good fit to work together. We’ll provide you with a free, no-obligation proposal how we can help you produce your track like it’s fresh off of Top 40 charts!