We get into various careers in order to excel in those fields. Music production is one career that is known to have a very steep learning curve.
Especially mixing and mastering.
Mixing and mastering are two of the most important parts of music production and one has to have a good idea of them in order to produce well.
Most newbies struggle with mixing and mastering which is why I’ve written this post to help you get better as a sound engineer.
Each and every tip is something that I mostly do with my mixes and masters so I’m literally giving you the secret sauce.
With that said, here’s how you can get better at mixing and mastering.
If you want to get better at mixing and mastering you’ll need to practice a lot.
The more you deal with vocals and instruments , the better you’ll understand how to handle certain things and what you need to do in order to get a specific result or specific results.
Vocals are different and the more you work with different artists the more you’ll understand different vocal types and how to handle them.
So make sure that you stay working and stay improving.
Use reference songs
Mixing and mastering is easier when you have reference songs that you can compare your mix or master against.
Therefore, you need to find songs that I’ve been well mixed and mastered and study them.
Mix your song then play your reference and catch what you may be missing and fix it.
Do the same for mastering.
This is an easy way to get better mixes.
Play mixes and masters on various devices
Reference songs are great but you also need reference audio devices that you can play your mixes and masters on.
So, play your mix on different sound systems and check whether your mixes sound good on all of them.
If you spot some things that are off on certain sound systems, you can rectify them in your mix and then replay them on the sound systems again and see If they work this time.
If they dont, simply rinse and repeat.
Use panning efficiently
For most people, knowing how to place sounds in their right frequency spot can be a challenge especially when one is working with a lot of sounds.
Panning can be a helpful tool because it can help you create more space in your mix in order to accommodate other sounds.
Therefore use panning to do this. But you shouldn’t always hard pan.
Sometimes a slight pan can do more for your mix than a hard pan to either channel.
Learn how to use sounds
Like I’ve mentioned in the previous point, you need your mix elements to compliment each other. This starts with choosing the right sound.
So if you notice problems caused by sounds conflicting, your best option is to change the sounds or get rid of them.
Also, listen to other songs and check how other sound engineers make sounds fit together.
Use EQ to give each a element a place
Use EQ to get rid of any unnecessary frequencies that may be bumping into each other.
Ensure that low frequency sounds only occupy the low end.
Ensure that mid frequency sounds occupy the midrange and lastly Ensure that your high frequencies take up the high range.
Use EQ to also check how all elements fit together.
Take a course to learn the concepts
Another great way to get better at mixing and mastering is taking a course so you can learn the concepts.
There are a lot of good educational resources out there.
Spend a couple of bucks on a course so you can learn how to go about mixing and mastering is an investment.
Mix with the Masters has some great courses you can take.
Think about music as an artistic blend
Music is basically a blend of various elements to paint one picture.
Think of a painter painting a picture… that’s exactly how mixing and mastering work.
All you’re essentially doing is trying to make everything go together well.
This means understanding the mix as a whole and understanding the various individual elements and how each of them adds up to formthe full mix.
When you think this way, you’ll start to take more care with how you go about handling instruments and vocals.
Get the right plugins
In order to get better at mixing and mastering you need both the right tools for mixing and the right tools for mastering.
So be sure to invest some money in getting plugins engineered to deliver quality.
Get good EQ plugins, compressors, De-essers, saturators, limiters and so forth.
Watch YouTube mixing and mastering tutorials and check for the plugins that the pros are using.
Find them and start using them in your own mixing and mastering.
Sometimes all you need is to have better tools that can make your job easier.
Know how to use your plugins
Getting the right tools such as plugins is simply the first step. You also need to know how to use them.
This will make your mixing and mastering more precise and will eliminate much of the guess work.
Most high end plugin suppliers offer plugin overviews that give you an inside look into the design and various important parameters of the plugin… so be sure to check out those.
Strive to understand the fundamentals
Sound engineering like any other skill sits on a foundation from which it’s knowledge stems.
If you want to get better at it, then you need to understand the fundamentals on a higher level.
So dig deep into this craft and you’ll discover how everything works as a whole.
You’ll also learn principles that will be key in developing your process and more importantly, your decision making.
Don’t rush to master
One of the mistakes that rookie sound engineers make is that they rush to master songs in the hopes that this will fix their mix and make it sound better.
This is the wrong way to go about things.
Mastering is only meant to elevate the mixing you’ve done.
If your mix is bad, mastering won’t fix it.
So spend more time mixing and making sure that you get the mix right before jumping on to mastering.
The fact is, mastering will be easier if the mastering is already good
Therefore get good at mixing and do it right.
Use the right gear
Also make sure that you’re using the right equipment for mixing and mastering.
If you want to get better at these two skills you need to have a clean feed of audio coming from your speakers.
So, invest in a good microphone, a good audio interface and good studio monitors.
This will make your mixing and mastering process cleaner.
Get great recordings
When working with vocals make sure you get the best takes from the musician.
Good takes will make your mixing and mastering easier.
Sometimes bad mixes are a result of badly recorded vocals so you’ll want to avoid that.
Coach the artists, make sure they’re recording the right way and you’ll have a better mixing and mastering experience .
Get good levels before processing
Don’t rely too much on plugins to fix your levels.
In the editing stage, make sure that you get the right and uniform volume level through out the session.
Then go ahead and get into processing your sounds.
This will make mixing and mastering easier and better.