Achieving a mix as you have visualized it in your head is not as simple as it sometimes feels. But with a few pointers and a nudge to the right direction, the whole process will become much easier, and more fun. Achieving the perfect mixing state of mind demands practice, but it is possible to grasp with the aid of some tips. Read more below.
Make a decision
Before you even lay your hands on the mixer, you need to decide a few things. You need to know what kind of spectral balance you want the track to have. Does it need to have a fat low-end, a warm midrange or crispy, bright hi-hats? Usually, it’s smart to concentrate on one of these qualities, as you can’t get them all at once that easily. Think about it, if you mix a big low-end but extra-bright drums, wouldn’t they kind of cancel each other out and not stand out of the mix anymore? The key here is balance.
It’s easier to jump into the mixing mode once there is an “image” of the track, incepted in your head instead of just taking a direction by random. Naturally, a degree of intuitive behavior is needed, but when it comes to mixing, well-planned is half-done.
Down to the source
Make sure the original dry tracks already possess the qualities you need. You really can’t make an overly dull hi-hat bright now, can you? Bad samples and instruments will lead nowhere but an average (or even bad) mix. Great source sounds are the key to a great mix!
Wet or dry? Details?
When you plan your mix, it’s healthy to decide what kind of soundscape you want to create. Dry or wet? Reverb or little reverb? Delays or zero delays?
Also, forget about fine-tuning the details when in the first stages of a mix. Should you want to create a reverbed sound, just slap a reverb to the track you want, quickly grab a preset that sounds like the style you want, and leave it there for now. It’s no use tweaking reverbs and other plugins, only to lose focus. The fine-tuning can be done later for hours and hours after the initial mix is done.
The quick mix
Here’s how to do a perfectly fine mix, quickly:
Start with the most important track, set a healthy fader level, and move on to the second important track. And so on. Create a quick fader mix by mixing the elements in order of importance. Try to get the rough “mix idea” down, just as you would when writing a song. Ideas come out of our heads best when done quickly. That’s just how our intuitive brain works.
After that, you’ll have all the time in the world to tweak your mix. The bottom line here is: think and make your thoughts reality (and be quick about it). That’s it.
What’s your method of approaching a mix? Discuss below.