7 Essential Tips You Need to Follow To Get Better Mixes
Monday , 21 October 2019 , 05 : 52 PM
Have you ever heard of a chart-topping song with a bad mix? I guess not. The quality of your mix plays a huge role in how well the song will be accepted.

Mixing can be a very exciting process or a frustrating one. It depends largely on how you approach it. Also, your approach will be determined by how much you know. So, to give you some useful information, here are useful tips to make your mixes better.

Essential tips to get better mixes

De-Essing

Most recording mics have built-in presence boosts that are intended to make vocals stick out in the mix. The side effect of this is that sometimes, it makes the vocal have more sibilance.

This is because sibilance and the presence boost coexist in a similar frequency range. One way to fix this is by using a De-Esser.

De-Esser works by reducing the gain of the sibilance frequencies only when the vocalist makes the sibilant sound. It's like a specialized multiband compressor.

Reference Tracks

When you're about to mix a new song, pick another well-mixed song that has similar elements or sonic properties like the one you want to mix and let it serve as a guide during the mixing process.

I highly suggest you listen to the reference tracks across multiple channels, including good planar magnetic headphones.

Use automation

When mixing in the box, we're usually tempted to use a copy and paste approach to the elements of the music.

The fact that the first and second chorus of a song sounds the same doesn't mean that you should use the same processes on both.

It only makes your mix sound mechanical and less organic. When you have similar parts in a song, try to add one or two ideas to keep things interesting.

An efficient way of doing this is to use automation. Sometimes, all you need to do is tweak some parts of the effects you already used. You can use automation to make these subtle changes as the music progresses.

Breaks

When you mix for long hours, your ears get tired, and your judgment begins to get a little cloudy.

Ear fatigue is a real thing, and while you may not feel it physically, it reduces your sensitivity, and you tend to not hear some things as you should. The first way to prevent ear fatigue is to mix at moderate volumes.

If your playback is loud, your ears will become fatigued more quickly. This may happen quicker in home studios where the monitors are quite close to your ears.

However, even when you're mixing at moderate or low volumes, you need to take a break after many hours of mixing.

It helps to rest your ears and give you a fresh perspective on things. Usually, when you're just coming from such a break, you notice new things in the mix when you do your first playback.

Important frequencies

Unless you're mixing purely instrumental music, the lead vocal will always be the most important element in your mix.

Everything you do revolves around it. Therefore, it's important that you know the key frequencies that work for vocals, and what exactly they do.

This way, you know where to go when you want to compensate for whatever is lacking or reduce anything that's on the excess.

For vocal fullness, boost or cut around 120Hz. For warmth, you should work with 250Hz thereabout. If you need more or less sibilance, aim for frequencies between 4kHz and 7kHz.

From 10kHz upwards, you can boost or cut to add or reduce the amount of air in the vocal. For more presence, boost around 5kHz. This tip will reduce the time you'll spend guessing what to cut or boost when mixing.

Use filters

The most common filters are high pass filters and low pass filters. These two are important in making your work easier.

Some elements have no lower frequency components. If you don't cut out those frequencies, it will only lead to a muddy mix. Use filters to cut out frequencies that you don't need.

Mix in context

When adjusting individual elements, do less of soloing. It's better to do your adjustments with other vocals or instruments sounding.

It gives you a better perspective. If you miss each element individually, they may not sound so well together. Mix each one in the context of the whole music to have a more cohesive sound.

Conclusion

It takes time and lots of practice to eventually get a professional sounding mix.

However, the time you take can be stretched out unnecessarily if you don't have enough information.

I hope I've been able to save you some valuable time with these tips.

Have fun mixing!

Written by: Jennifer Webster of Sound Maximum.
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