The moment I was introduced to digital recording and mixing, I became obsessed with plugins.
These little pieces of software seemed like magic to me: you insert them on your track and they are supposed to make everything sound better. Or so I thought.
And who could blame me? That’s how they are advertised by the manufacturers.
But after spending years of my life and too much money on fancy plugin bundles, I can safely tell you that when you boil mixing down to the big wins, what really makes a difference, there are only 2 plugins that you absolutely need to get a great mix.
Oh, and you already own them.
Via wing_clipper Flickr
Your Two Best Friends: EQ And Compression
If you want to be a great mixer, then you need to get familiar with your two biggest tools: EQ and compression. No other plugins will shape your mix like these two. None.
And it doesn’t matter what brand of EQ or compressor you use either. Every DAW ships with at least one of each, so you might as well start with what you have!
EQ can sculpt and shape the tone and balance of your mix. It’s so powerful of a tool that I can’t praise it enough.
And compression can add power and energy to your tracks, all while keeping your audio from randomly popping out of the mix too much. You can get what I call “contained gain” – which is a beautiful thing.
Many Of Us Refuse To Believe It’s That Simple
All you need to get a great mix is EQ and compression. That’s it. So I find it crazy that so many home studio owners (me included at one point) find it hard to belive this is true.
It’s almost like we don’t WANT to believe it’s true.
We’d rather be told that there is some cool analog emulating plugin out there that once inserted on our mix buss or all of our tracks will instantly give us that “pro” and “glossy” sound in our mix.
I get it. That would be cool – if that were true.
But I think the reason many of us yearn to buy into the lie that we need different and “better” plugins to give us that sound is because we’ve used EQ and compression before and failed to get the results we crave.
Logically we’d rather believe that there’s something else out there we need, rather than come to grips with the fact that maybe, just maybe, we aren’t seasoned enough EQ and compression users.
Don’t Get Angry. Get Better!
The good news is, none of us were born great EQ and compression users. We have to learn, through trial and error.
And that’s the great thing: you can learn this! You can get better! And when you do, your mixes will improve ten fold and you will know why.
That’s why I take every opportunity I can to teach my students, to teach you, to teach ANYBODY who will listen how to properly think about and apply EQ and compression techniques in their mixes.
I’ve teamed up with the amazing people of Creative Live to give you all a major crash course in all things compression and EQ in the hopes that you will feel empowered to go make better mixes.
You can join the class here – and if you miss part of it (or all of it in the case of those of you from the future) you can watch it on demand as well.
Share Your Breakthrough Moment
Do me a favor. Take 20 seconds to leave a comment below sharing your biggest breakthrough moment with either EQ or compression.
What was the tipping point for when you finally felt like you “unlocked” the potential of these two great tools. I’m sure it will encourage the rest of us!