Mixing makes up a huge part of music production and is one of the main ingredients.
To succeed in music production; skill-wise, you need to sharpen and elevate your mixing game in order to create radio-ready music, ready for mass consumption.
There exist various mixing techniques,
we all mix differently and there is no such thing as the “perfect mix” but you can get close enough.
What you need is a good process and to have some good knowledge of what it is you’re actually doing.
Therefore this post will walk you through some great tips you can use to improve your overall mixing capabilities.
Automation used correctly can greatly improve your mixes.
It is great to have all your tracks set to specific values but if you have been mixing long enough you know that it’s not always possible for all your sounds to sound good through out the mix, especially vocals.
Therefore automating certain parts of the track can work very well for you.
Using this automation technique can help you automate parts that may not be in-sync with the song,
good applied automation can take care of this to give you a more consistent sound throughout the track.
Use Parallel compression
With parallel compression it’s always good to know what you wish to accomplish with it.
Parallel compression is what is also known as New York compression and its technique is combining a dry or slightly compressed signal with a compressed version of the same signal.
You can use parallel compression on things like drums, percussion, and any kind of transient heavy elements.
Parallel compression will improve your mixes because it allows you to get all the rawness that comes with an uncompressed signal,
blended with the movement, character and texture of a compressed signal without having to trade off one against the other.
EQ your sends for space
Sends are what you use to vary the amounts of a regular tracks signal to an aux track.
Effects like reverb may take up too much space in your mix,
therefore using EQ to limit this reverb space can be a good way to keep your stereo image well balanced.
This customisation function of sends, give you power over any effect.
Use Limiting the right way
Limiting is very important in music production because it allows you to keep all sounds beneath 0dB without clipping.
Mix without the limiter and try to get sounds to good levels to create a good balance of the overall mix.
Mixing with a limiter will greatly affect your processing and it’s not a whole lot of processing you can actually do with a limiter on your master bus.
This is why you’ll find it common that most mastering engineers emphasize that you send the mixed version of a song without having ran it through a limiter because it would greatly incapacitate what they can actually do to improve your mix.
Mastering requires a mix that is balanced and not really as loud because mastering aims to give the song a bump in volume and some other processing to have it ready for release.
Therefore get rid of the limiter when mixing.
A lot of us like to have compression on our mix bus because it gives the track a sort of good cohesion and glueness to the mix.
One technique you can use with compression to improve your mixes is to side chain when you compress.
Sidechaining can help you drive up and filter certain frequencies to create some space within the mix for other elements.
This can greatly help your mixes.
Deal with noise like a pro
Noise gates help you eliminate the noisy parts of sound and can work well for you if you use them the right way.
The right way is using the gate to not get rid of all the noise completely because using it like this will make your vocal only sound unnatural and quite annoying if you have some of the instrumental bleeding into the vocal.
It’s better to carefully dip the volume of the noise instead of having the gate cut it all off,
This will help you achieve a more natural sounding control of noise.
Be clean when mixing, make sure to be technical in your approach.
Don’t use fades incorrectly, make sure there are no segments that are overlapping.
This will help you avoid what would end up being clicks and pops that can easily ruin your mix.
Make sure all your chopping and merging is properly done.
When exporting your mix make sure you give any time based effects enough tail room for them to decay, avoid selecting only the start to end of the session and exporting.
Leave some tail space for any effects like reverb, delay etc.
Take a break
Anyone that is a mixing engineer has experienced the wall.
The wall is basically the feeling you get when you listen to a mix over and over again and don’t really see what else you can do and you end up turning knobs just for the sake of turning them.
It’s quite normal.
What can improve your mixes is basically taking frequent breaks every now and again to give your brain some room to reset and then go back in and work on your session again.