If you mix music, then there are a few common mixing mistakes that its important to avoid. Making sure that you avoid these 5 mistakes whilst mixing will really help you to create better sounding tracks.
‘Mixing Mistakes’ no. 1: digital distortion:
One mixing mistake that will really kill your mix is the occurrence of digital distortion. Unlike analogue recording where distortion can sound really good, digital distortion sounds terrible and it has the potential to ruin your mix.
If the signals that you’re working with have been recorded really loudly, then use your DAW’s trim plugin to turn the signals down and free up some headroom. Be sure to keep an eye on the input and output levels of your plugins as well. Signals can often come out of a plugin much louder than they went in. This is sometimes a stage at which clipping may occur. Make sure you’re not clipping the mix bus either. Keep an eye on your meters and make sure that clipping doesn’t occur at any point in your session.
‘Mixing Mistakes’ no. 2: not listening on different systems:
When it comes to mixing mistakes, only listening to your mix on one system is common. However there are huge benefits to listening to your mix on more than one set of speakers or in more than one environment.
You could listen to your mix on a pair of headphones. Or you could listen on iPod ear phones. You could listen to your mix on your car stereo. Or you could listen to your mix on your TV’s sound bar or a portable Bluetooth speaker. Doing this will give you a much better idea of how your mix will translate to other systems. Even if you have more than one set of monitor speakers in your studio, I highly recommend taking the mix out of your studio to see how it sounds in different rooms and in different environments. Then go back to your main speakers in your home studio to make adjustments so that you have a mix which translates well across multiple platforms. You’ll really be surprised at the changes you find your self making once you’ve heard your mix in a few different settings.
‘Mixing Mistakes’ no. 3: not using EQ or compression on the mix bus:
Another common mixing mistake is to overlook the benefit that adding EQ or compression to your mix bus can provide. Adding compression and EQ to your mix bus can really help you to shape the overall sound of your song. Adding EQ gives you the opportunity to make the song’s overall frequency spectrum sound a little fuller or clearer. Compression can help you tighten up the sound of the mix and give a little more energy to your session. So don’t overlook this step, as it’s a great opportunity to elevate your tracks to a more professional level.
‘Mixing Mistakes’ no. 4: over processing the mix bus:
Following on from no. 3 on our list of mixing mistakes, mistake no. 4 is overdoing the processing on the mix bus. Whilst adding EQ to your mix bus gives you the opportunity to sculpt the overall frequency response of your song, over processing can really kill your mix. Pushing the high end too hard will quickly cause your mix to sound harsh. Boosting the low end too much can leave you with a woolly sound. Overdo the compression and you’ll suck all of the life out of your session. So the lesson here is to make subtle moves on your mix bus which bring the song to life, but which don’t spoil the overall quality of your mix.
‘Mixing Mistakes’ no. 5: not breaking regularly enough:
The final point on our list of mixing mistakes is really common, but it can have a hugely detrimental effect on your mix. The good news is, its the easiest thing of all to change. Be sure to take regular breaks when you mix. I believe that a good rule is to take a break at least once every 30 mins. But if you’re mixing on headphones or you mix loudly, then your breaks should be more regular.
The reason that its important to take breaks is that you can quickly become accustomed to the way your mix sounds if you mix for long periods. When that happens, something like an instrument being too loud or a vocal being over-compressed become really hard to notice. When this happens, you can fool your self into thinking you have a great sounding mix. Unfortunately, it’s not until you return to the session the next day that you realize how wrong you were. The best way to avoid this is to break regularly. I find that taking regular breaks refreshes my ability to make critical decisions about what I’m hearing. So be sure to avoid the mistake of mixing for too long without a break.
What are the most common mistakes that you notice in your mixes? Share your thoughts in the comments section.