Need to know why your mix doesn’t sound like the pros? Here are seven reasons why your mix sound amateur.
1. Room acoustic and monitor placement
Most beginners head straight into mixing and production and overlook these very important steps, then wonder why there mixes sound terrible. Just by add a few acoustic treatments, you will hear the sound emitting from your monitors more accurately. The right monitor placement will enhance the stereo image and the way you hear the direct and the reflected sound in the room.
2. No reference
If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t get anywhere. I don’t know the saying but you get the idea. Even the most experience mixing engineers sometime uses a reference track. A reference track will give you some idea of how the final mix should sound like before you even start mixing. If you are mixing for someone else let them give you a rough track. If you are mixing for yourself, take your favorite music from your playlist and use that as your reference.
3. Noisy mixes
How can you even share your mix in this form? Ok, I won’t be so hard on you. But unwanted sounds such as clicks, pops, buzzing from equipments, headphone bleed, lip smacks, and breathing don’t reflect professionalism and no one will listen to your mix for too long. Not even your mother, even though she loves you.
Some of these unwanted noise – buzz, clicks, and bleeds- you should get rid of before you even start recording. Most of the time it’s impossible to get rid of them during editing. On the subject of editing, you should edit, edit, edit, before you start adding any Fx or processor. Try throwing perfume on a bum who haven’t showered for years, you get the same effect if you try adding Fx to a dirty recording.
4. Reverb over use
Yes, you’ve been there, haven’t you?! Your mix sound like it was recorded in an empty old school building. Well, maybe you haven’t been in an empty old school building. If you are using too much reverb your mix will sound distant, flat and lock any feeling of intimacy. Also, overuse of reverb will emphasize poor mixing techniques.
You might think you need to add reverb on every track, well you don’t. For example, synth pads don’t need reverb and too much reverb on low frequency instruments such as bass or kick will leave your mix muddy.
You should use reverb to add acoustic characteristic to the overall mix so that all the instrument sound like they are playing in the same space and or to place the sound up front or way back in the mix.
5. Inconsistent levels
The kick is pumping and in my face but the lead vocal is way back in the mix that I can hardly hear it or the lead vocal is so loud and I can’t hear the other instruments. Well my friends, this is due to poor balancing.
Balancing is the foundation to a great mix and the first thing you do after editing. A well balance mix is one where the elements in the song isn’t over powering or clashing with each other. Start with the kick or the most instrument channel fader at around -5dB or 6dB and build everything else from there.
6. Mix lack punch and clarity
This is a follow on from previous tip because mix with inconsistent levels will lack clarity. But more so, your mix lack punch and clarity if each element doesn’t sit in their own predominate frequency range and are clashing for attention.
The low frequency might be too weak or too strong and other main instruments, such as the vocals aren’t distinct. To achieve clarity, don’t be afraid to cut the mid if it will bring out the bright sparkly highs and the fat powerful low.
7. Dull and uninteresting sound
No one listen to a dull and uninteresting song for too long. All those songs you hear playing on the radio has some element that capture the listener attention. If you are only using the sounds from your digital audio workstation (DAW) to make your music, it is going to sound uninterested and you can’t compete with what you hear on the radio. To spice up you mix head over to pluginboutique to get plugins and samples that will get you sounding like the professionals.
Do consider these tips when you are mixing or doing any music production work and try to eliminate them for a better sounding finished song.