The Best Mixing Advice I've Received
We all want to become better mixers and the internet is overflowing with advice on mixing, but it’s hard to know what’s really going to help you and what’s not. So, in this post I thought I’d share the three pieces of advice that have genuinely pushed me forward the most when it comes to mixing.
1. Stop using the solo button
When you first start mixing, it’s tempting to solo every element one by one and make each track sound as good as possible on its own before blending them together. However, the aim of mixing isn’t to make instruments sound good on their own, it’s to make them sound good together, so why would you want to solo them for the critical decisions? You should aim to make everything sound great in context with the rest of the mix and the more you can avoid the solo button, the more you can do this. I’d challenge you to make every EQ decision in your mix without using the solo button and see how much better the end result sounds and how much easier it was to get there. On top of this, it stops you from overthinking the details and gives you a way better perspective of the bigger picture throughout the mixing process.
2. Use a template
This is a big one, especially if you’re working on your own songs! When you’re mixing a track, there are so many small distractions along the way. Things like setting up fx channels, creating groups and busses and deciding what plugin to use can all take out of the flow creatively. Staying in this flow state is really important. By creating a template with all of your usual fx channels set up, your vocal chain loaded and your instrument grouping ready to go, you can eliminate hundreds of potential distractions and keep yourself in the zone, with more focus on creativity and making your song sound amazing.
3. Use less plugins
Finally, a great piece of advice is to limit your plugin library as much as you can. If you have 8 different EQs to pick from every time you want to shape the tone of something, it’ll be so easy to get distracted and sucked out of the creative zone. You’ll find yourself overthinking more, over processing more and wasting more time on very minor decisions. However, if you only have a couple of go-to EQs and you know them like the back of your hand, it’ll be so much easier and quicker to get the sound that you’re looking for. I’ve used the same plugins in my mixes for two or three years now - only with an update here and there, and I can honestly say it’s improved my workflow, decision making and the sound of my mixes so much. Don’t believe the hype plugin company marketing teams are putting out, that new compressor simply isn’t going to revolutionise your productions.
I hope this helps you out! If you can implement even just one of these, your mixing abilities will improve tenfold. If you’d like some feedback on something you’re working just drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org - always happy to help!