One Huge Reason Mixing Is Hard For You (And What To Do About It)

2015 Mar 09, 2015

If there were a way to make the mixing process easier on yourself – would you do it?

You see, too many home studio owners struggle with their mixes, battling for clarity and impact only to collapse in defeat. The mix has won – and they are left wondering if a new plugin or better monitors would help.

Turns out there’s an easier way.

Don’t Play To Lose The Game

Most home studio owners have already set themselves up to fail come mixing time, long before they sit down to mix.

No matter which DAW, plugin, converters, or speakers they use – they are playing the game in such a way that they can’t really win. And by win, I mean crank out a killer mix.

How are they playing to lose?

By recording far too many tracks in the first place.

The Curse Of Unlimited Tracks

There are two major (and related) negatives to home recording in the digital age.

The first is the “freedom” of recording virtually unlimited tracks. A DAW has no physical track count limitations like a real console would.

No longer confined to 16, 24, or 32 tracks – the home studio owner can record track upon track, without any consideration of each part’s contribution (or lack thereof) to the rest of the song.

This is a huge negative (I’ll explain why in just a moment) – but it’s usually paired with just as big of a negative: the lack of a producer or collaborator in the studio.

Most times there is no one in the home studio giving feedback on the recording process, helping to keep the big picture of the entire arrangement in view as you (the engineer and artist) record track after track after track.

The lack of these two “filters” or “limitations” leads to one giant problem.

Too Many Pointless Tracks

Simply put, the typical home studio song these days has far too many pointless tracks recorded. In other words, these tracks contribute nothing truly necessary to the arrangement or the song.

From layers upon layers of guitar parts, to excess drum mics – these wasteful tracks simply take up sonic space, headroom, and they muddy the arrangement in such a way that covers up the greatness of the remaining tracks.

And this my friends is precisely why mixing is so hard for many of you. You are trying to squeeze too much junk through a narrow pipe.

Only Keep What’s Absolutely Necessary

You open up a session, ready to mix, but it takes far too long and you’re left with far too much mud and mushiness (is that word?) when all the while the simple solution was to delete or mute a few unnecessary tracks.

In fact, the best thing to do would be to not record them in the first place – or if you unsure, sift through your session after a recording day and keep only what really is critical to the song’s arrangement.

This gives you smaller track counts that make mixing faster and more fun. And most important of all – your mix sounds better.

Less Truly Is More

With fewer tracks to mix, there is less masking (tracks covering other tracks) which leads to less EQ needed, which leas to a cleaner more musical mix.

With fewer competing tracks there is more clarity and separation in the stereo spectrum.

Wouldn’t you want that? More clarity, separation, and less need for EQ? Wouldn’t you want the mix to be easier for you?

And yet it’s completely up to you. You can set yourself up to win, by simply keeping your track count during recording day down as low as possible.

It honestly is a breeze to mix songs with fewer than 24 tracks.

16 is even better!

It’s Entirely Up To You

But no one can do this for you. To help yourself you must take action.

To do this you’ll have to be ruthless and have the maturity to know what tracks must be there and what tracks don’t add much if anything.

I promise, though, that the reward is worth the extra time and effort that goes into putting on your producer hat and having the guts to delete tracks that really aren’t needed.

You’ll reach for extreme EQ boosts or cuts less and less. You’ll get a fuller mix with greater ease. And and in the end it’ll take you less time overall.

So – tell me, what is your typical track count when you go to mix? Have you experimented with trimming them back to as low a number as possible?

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