Did you know there’s a simple hack that both instantly improves your mix within minutes and ensures you do your best mixing work each and every time?
It’s called mix buss processing (or more crudely put: slapping plugins on your master fader) and it’s more than mere technical processing – it has psychological implications that help me every time I mix.
Get A Quick Win Early On
Mixing can be a slow and tedious process.
A little EQ cut here, a boost there, some slight compression over here, a tad of saturation over there. It’s very hard to hear all these subtle moves in isolation, but over the course of a mix these minuscule moves create mixing magic.
In all honesty this slow, subtle process can be a bit discouraging and disappointing. I want to hear drastic awesome changes, and I want to hear them now!
In fact, if I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere, I start to lose confidence. I question whether or not I can actually finish this thing, and finish it well.
That’s why it is absolutely critical for me to get a quick mixing “win” at the beginning. And I do that with mix buss processing.
Instant Improvement = Instant Confidence Boost
Any move you make on the mix buss, however slight and for better or for worse, can make a big difference.
If you think about it this way, if you make a 1db boost with an EQ on your master fader in a session with 40+ tracks, you are in essence applying that 1db frequency boost 40 times and in 40 different ways!
If done strategically that can be a great thing and have a huge impact within minutes of starting your mix.
Why is that a good thing?
You are instantly making your mix closer to finished which gives you a huge psychological boost of confidence.
As you begin to feel like you are truly making a difference – a strategic and musical difference – you realize that you’re better at mixing than you think and by thinking that way you actually produce better work.
It’s one of the most powerful hacks in mixing I know.
Some Mix Buss Suggestions
If you’ve never dabbled with mix buss processing let me give you some helpful starting points.
One of the simplest things you can do is apply a bit of compression.
The goal here is gentle settings (think slow attack, fast release, and 1 to 2 db of gain reduction at the loudest points). The sonic result? More glue, punch, and energy in your mix.
Another great move is to open up the mix with some subtle mix buss EQ.
In fact, here is my favorite mix buss EQ trick of all time. Use it at the beginning of the mix for immediate impact.
Beyond those two (EQ and compression) you can experiment with saturation, harmonic exciters, and even mutli-band compression.
In fact, if you want to see how to apply some strategic mix buss processing with only stock and/or free plugins – watch Part 2 of my new One Hour Mix series. The before and after is subtle, but noticeable and is a great example of what can be done.
Boost Your Confidence, Boost Your Mix
For those of you who already employ some mix buss processing in your workflow, let me ask you: do you do it at the beginning of your mix or just the end?
And for those of you who have never tried your hand at mix buss processing – will you start?
Remember – if you get that quick win early on, it will boost your confidence – which in turn will boost your mixing ability and focus, giving you a better final mix in the end. Pure awesomeness.