Have you ever been sweating over a mix only to find that you push the snare drum up a db, then pull it back down. You add more ‘verb to the lead vocal and then wonder if that was the right thing to do? Maybe you are wondering if what you are hearing is even too hot.
No matter how many years of experience you have, questions like this are on every conscientious mixer’s mind…
Let me give you a few tips that get me past some of these mix (and confidence) killers.
Via chrismetcalfTV Flickr
1. Let someone else hear your mix
When someone else listens to my mix-in-progress, my perspective on that mix changes somehow. Suddenly, I KNOW that the snare drum is 1db too loud, and that the first two notes of the guitar solo are too soft , and that the vocal has too much reverb on it. I don’t really know what happens to my ears, but when I know that someone else is listening, I tend to listen with a “plan” instead of just tweaking.
TIP: Let your friend, spouse or the client sit in your chair and listen as loud or as soft as they would like… you walk around the room and take some mental notes. I guarantee that you will notice things you never have before.
If you don’t want to wait till the last minute and let the client be the one listening while you are finalizing your perfect mix “plan”, you can get your spouse or maybe a friend to stand in. Sometimes they can give you some insight or suggestions that you need, but most of the time, they will just make you listen with new ears.
2. Take it to the car.
If you are like me, the set of speakers that you listen too the most besides your studio monitors is your car speakers. So, why not use your car for referencing what sounds right? Whether you car has an over-exaggerated low end or it sounds very “normal”, you can always benefit by listening in an environment that you are used to.
TIP: Sometimes, I will even put my “reference mix” on the same cd with my mix just to compare things like: where the bass sits in the track, the drums, lead vocal etc,. As I said in my video, “5 things every great mixer knows“, Always compare!
3. Let it rest.
Sometimes, you just have to take a break. It can be anything from overnight to over lunch. Alternatively, you could just shut the session down and work on something else for awhile… Listen a little later to see if the mix sounds different than you left it.
I hope that these tips will keep YOUR mixes moving forward. If you have any tricks that have worked for you, please let me and Graham know in the comments section below.
This article was written by my good friend and award winning mix engineer Kevin Ward. For more mixing tips and videos from Kevin check out his site MixCoach.com.