My number one recommendation isn’t going to have anything to do with plug-ins or software. No techniques, not tricks… There’s no secret sauce in this blog post.
The best thing you can do right now to improve you mixes is to fix your monitoring. You have to be able to hear your mix as it actually exists in order to mix well.
So what can you do to make sure that you are monitoring correctly?
- Take your room out of the equation. If that means treating your room with acoustic panels, bass traps, diffusers, etc, then go do it. I recommend GIK acoustics for packages that are designed for your room. If you can’t afford to do that, get a reasonably decent pair of headphones or ear buds.
- Learn how your chosen monitors or headphones or ear buds sound. Spend a lot of time listening to a lot of different music of different styles on them and learn what frequencies get boosted or lowered by them. Compare the same music on another set of headphones.
- Always listen at the same low volume level when you mix. When I first met James Gammon way back in 2008, he recommended that I pick up an SPL meter to make sure I wasn’t listening to my mixes too loud. You need to find a level you can listen at for long periods of time. You can find apps that will do this.
- Pick a handful of songs that you think sound great or grab a song that is similar to what you are mixing. Drop that song into your mix session and regularly switch back and forth as you try to make you mix sound similar to that song. Do your drums hit as hard? Does your lead vocal sit on top of everything else. Do you have holes in your mix?
- Take your mix and listen to it in the car or on some standard ear buds to hear if your mix works on different speakers.