It's true that everyone has to start somewhere, but in a creative field like music and sound engineering, it’s easy to get lost in the abundance of possible routes that can be taken to get the same result. And, with the amount of resources that are available at your disposal, picking the right step is important to achieve the desired result. Everyone learns from their mistakes and gradually and eventually, once you get hold of the topic, there’s nothing stopping you!
In this case, we’ll talk about Mixdowns. Having a nice and clear mix is essential in today’s industry and while everyone can’t get pro at this art quickly, there are some steps that you can take in the beginning to avoid taking on any bad mixing habits that might hurt you. And, because there is no right way, you can always come up with steps that works best for you.
These are the 3 things you should avoid at all costs when you’re starting out to give your mixdown a better shape.
This is hands down one of the biggest mistakes you’ll make when starting out, i.e using way too much of the same thing without knowing how actually the sound is being affected.
Overprocessing can be anything really, too much compression, saturation, reverb or any time-based effect etc. and as they say, too much of anything is a bad thing.
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For example, It’s easy to go all out with OTT just because it makes your stuff sound “phat,” but in the long run and when the track is played as a whole, it might not sound good due to excessive feedback from the OTT. So, the best bet is to A/B, how the element is being affected once you add anything to it and how does it react with rest of the track. You do have to get a bit critical of your choices, but hey, it’s only gonna help you out.
2. Using Audio Effects Just For The Sake Of It
When you watch a tutorial on YouTube, it’s understandable that you end up doing the same thing that Youtuber was doing, but keep in mind that he/she did what was required by that sound. So, the best thing is definitely pick up any knowledge that you can and fully listen to what those guys are saying and once you’re through with that try experimenting with different sounds and different effects and over time you’ll get a hold of what has to go where.
Training your ear is super important too. You can line up effects on effects that are doing nothing but making that element sound muddy and dull just because that YouTuber was doing so, or you can add moderate amount of effects and turn that sound into a monster. You definitely can add a line of effects but just make sure they work together and are placed correctly, otherwise you’re destroying more than you’re treating!
3. Not Placing Elements Properly In The Stereo Image
One of the best ways to get your tracks loud like the pros is by having each element having a space of its own and nothing competing with each other. You must have heard big producers say that you should “learn to mix in mono” and this actually is a pretty neat advice. So basically, if you can get your mix sounding nice and clean in mono and you can make sure that there is no phase cancellation going on, you can then start putting elements in the right place and basically sculpt the stereo image of the track. For example, Kick, Snare and Vocals should be in mono, different cymbals can be panned to left and right, synths and mid basses can be given some stereo widening using stereo expansion tools like Dimension Expander by Xfer Records, Ozone’s Multiband Imager or the new stand-alone imager etc.
The more you practice, the more you will get good at it. Do remember, to compete with others you have to be at your level best. It will take time but you’ll certainly get there. We hope you learned something new from this and it helps you out!