3 Mixing Hacks

2011 Aug 08, 2011

If you’ve tried your hand at mixing, then you’re aware that it is a complex process. It’s never really one or two tricks that make a mix stand out, rather it’s hundreds of small decisions that snowball into a great (or bad) mix. Today, however, I want to give you three mixing “hacks” that are sure to almost force you into delivering better mixes!


Via LadyDragonflyCC – >;< Flickr

Mix At Low Volumes

That’s right, you need to turn down your monitors while you mix. Anything can sound big and exciting at a loud volume, but a good mix is one that holds together even at low volumes. In fact, by simply mixing a low volume you force mixing decisions that make things pop at that volume, which will give you a better mix overall.

Chris Lord-Alge is famous for mentioning this many times in interviews. He mixes at a volume low enough to have a normal conversation with someone in the room (and even low enough to hear his assistant typing on the keyboard!). If you can get the drums and guitars to sound slamming at such a low volume, you are guaranteed to have a rocking track at louder listening levels. Simple!

Mix In Mono

I did a video on this recently in the 5 Minutes To A Better Mix series, but mixing in mono is one of the BEST things you can do to get a solid mix that is clear and balanced. In that video I recommended you check your mixes in mono during the mixing process, but my good friend Kevin Ward of MixCoach.com wrote in his recent book and companion video that he likes to start his mixes in mono.

Basically you put the mix in mono, and start to get volume and EQ balances without the benefit of the stereo field. Yes your mix will sound a little lackluster for a while, but you are forcing yourself to get a solid balance of volume and frequency. Plus, you will notice (and be able to correct) any phasing issues that might be lurking around. (Hint: check the drums!)

Use Your High Pass Filter

Even if you don’t know much about how to incorporate EQ properly in your mix, everyone can through a simple high pass filter on all your tracks except maybe the kick drum and bass guitar. By simply rolling off the low end (anywhere from 80hz to 200hz) on your tracks, you will clear out the mud that exists, thereby opening up the bottom end and bringing clarity to your overall mix. It’s a simple trick but it works every time!

Use The Hacks

By simply utilizing these three hacks you are setting yourself up for a much better mix. Sure you need practice and to build on your skills, but these tips will get you in the ballpark faster and with less frustration! Do you use these hacks already? Leave a comment!

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