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  • Writer's pictureLarry Pareigis

What’s The Proper Way to Mix Your Music?

Hey, it’s Larry Pareigis from Nine North Records Label Group! Twice a month, I like to answer some common questions with folks I work with - in this case, musicians with home studios asking about the proper way to mix their music. #6 comes up a lot when I’m evaluating your songs, which are often sent to me - along with these questions - at larry@ninenorthmail.com.


Mixing music is a complex process that involves balancing various elements to create a cohesive and polished final product. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when mixing music, based on insights from multiple sources:


Common Mixing Mistakes


1. **Not Having a Clear Vision**

One of the biggest mistakes is starting a mix without a clear direction or vision. Knowing what you want to achieve with your mix is crucial for making informed decisions.


2. **Over-Processing**

Using too many plugins or applying excessive EQ, compression, and other effects can lead to a cluttered and unnatural sound. It's often better to use minimal processing and focus on enhancing the natural qualities of the recorded tracks.


3. **Ignoring Room Acoustics**

Poor room acoustics can significantly affect how you perceive the sound, leading to imbalances in the mix. Proper acoustic treatment and correct monitor placement are essential for accurate monitoring.


4. **Mixing at High Volumes**

Mixing at high volumes can lead to ear fatigue and poor decision-making. Mixing at moderate levels and taking regular breaks to keep your ears fresh is better.


5. **Not Checking the Mix in Mono**

Many phase issues and balance problems can be identified by listening to the mix in mono. Ensuring your mix sounds good in mono helps it translate well across different playback systems.


6. **Over-Compressing**

Excessive compression can squash the dynamics of a track, making it sound lifeless. It's important to use compression judiciously to maintain the natural dynamics of the music.


7. **Poor Low-End Management**

Too much or too little low-end can make a mix sound muddy or thin. Properly balancing the bass and kick drum and using high-pass filters on instruments that don't need low frequencies can help maintain clarity.


8. **Overdoing High Frequencies**

Boosting high frequencies excessively can make a mix sound harsh and fatiguing. To avoid listener fatigue, it's essential to be delicate with high-end EQ adjustments.


9. **Not Using Reference Tracks**

Comparing your mix to professionally mixed tracks in a similar genre can help you identify tonal imbalances and other issues. Reference tracks provide a benchmark for quality and help ensure your mix translates well.


10. **Mixing in Solo**

Making mix decisions while soloing tracks can lead to elements that don't fit well together. It's better to make adjustments while listening to all aspects in context to ensure they work together harmoniously.


11. **Neglecting Automation**

Automation is crucial for creating dynamic and engaging mixes. Relying on static levels and settings can make a mix sound flat and uninteresting. Use automation to add movement and emphasis to different parts of the track.


12. **Phase Issues**

Phase problems can occur when multiple microphones are used, or stereo signals are summed to mono. These issues can cause specific frequencies to cancel, leading to a hollow or weak sound. Checking for phase issues and correcting them is essential for a solid mix.


13. **Not Leaving Enough Headroom**

Leaving sufficient headroom is essential for the mastering process. Mixing too hot can lead to distortion and limit the mastering engineer's ability to enhance the track. Aim to keep the master level around -3 to -6 dB.


14. **Poor Vocal Placement**

Vocals are often the focal point of a mix, and getting their placement right is crucial. They should be clear and present without overpowering the other elements. Experiment with different levels and EQ settings to find the right balance.


15. **Ignoring the Importance of Arrangement**

A cluttered arrangement can make mixing difficult. Ensuring that each element has its own space in the frequency spectrum and doesn't compete with others is critical to a clean mix.


By avoiding these common mistakes, you can improve the quality of your mixes and create more professional-sounding music.


As always, if you have any comments or questions, contact me at larry@ninenorthmail.com - thanks for reading!



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