If you’re struggling to get the mix you want, it might be time to shake up your approach. Try out one or all of these tips for getting a better mix on your next song:
1. Less is more
When you need a track to be more present in the mix, the answer isn’t always to make it louder. By instead reducing the volume of competing frequencies, you can bump something without muddying up your mix. For instance, if you need more kick drum, first try lowering the volume of your bass. High-hat not shining through the way you want? See what happens if you get rid of some of your high synths. Utilizing subtractive mixing can help you maintain a cleaner balance between the elements of your song.
2. Ease off on the compression
Contrary to what the top 40 charts might suggest, not every piece of music needs to be compressed to smithereens. By using less compression, the natural dynamics of an instrument come through much more clearly. This creates a far more captivating recording, especially if you’re working on an acoustic track that features guitar, piano, or voice. The human voice distorts easily, so unless you’re going for a particular effect, watch the compression!
3. Use all the colors available to you
The human ear is incredibly sensitive. It can detect frequencies as low as 20Hz all the way up to 20kHz. That’s a whole spectrum of frequencies for you to explore! Go beyond just “low, middle, and high” pitches, and instead think of it like a color palette. Each frequency range is a different color—what new ways can you combine them? In what musical contexts might you want to include certain colors, or avoid them?
4. Garbage in, garbage out
This is a common saying in the business. Basically, there’s only so much you can do to fix poor recording quality. Do you need to drop $1,000 on a brand new condenser microphone? No. But it never hurts to learn about best recording practices for your instrument or read up on your microphone’s strengths and weaknesses. Know how to get the best sound possible from the equipment you have and you’ll find it much easier to get a quality mix in the end.
Looking for feedback on your song’s mix? Tonic Audio’s Discord server is a community where musicians can give and receive feedback on their work, find collaborators, and learn from working industry professionals. Check it out here!