The Science Of Art: Six More Mix Tips

Six more. Anything you want me to expand on, let me know, I'll do a post about it:

  1. Throw a limiter after an EQ if you’re doing a big boost to keep your levels from going crazy. Just make sure the limiter’s threshold is set correctly so that it’s actually doing something. I like to do this with the PSP VintageWarmer - it's a very coloured limiter and it's very easy to overcook it. But like, just don't do that, you know? With the VW, I simply adjust the 'ceiling' knob and leave everything at default. Just see if you like it when a limiter is 'soaking up' the boost you just did with the EQ, and keeping the levels under control.
  2. Write down the specific areas to correct before revisiting a mix to do revisions - whether they're your own mix notes or a client's. Correct them, bounce the mix, send it to the client, and move on - otherwise you’ll be tweaking forever. If you need to do more, repeat the process, like a robot. Don't get caught in a loop. If the mix realy sucks, do it again.
  3. 'Mix references' are *usually* bollocks. It’s a different song by different people (that's also been mastered), so don’t get caught up trying to copy stuff. Chances are it'll just confuse you and it’s better to just really know your monitoring environment. Use them sparingly; for mastering, they can help you match a healthy overall loudness level, and if you go to a new studio (whether that's Abbey Road or your mate's garage), then a familiar song can help you understand the monitoring environment. But that's about it.
  4. Limit your options. Have a few go-to staple plugins that you trust and know backwards. Too many options will just eat productivity. I mainly use plugins from PSP, SSL, Slate and a few of the stock Logic effects (love the Channel EQ). I'll have 2-4 different options for each effect type - EQ, reverb, compressors, etc. With my go-to options, I can probably sort 90% of mixes, regardless of the genre. As you gain more experience, you might try out a new plugin and if you like it, you can add it to your staple plugin list - perhaps discarding one of the older ones. The same goes with (software) instruments, really. Scientists have concluded that you can be stuck dicking around with NI Komplete for up to 45 years.
  5. Gain stage everything correctly. Plugins or outboard, doesn’t matter. Make sure the level going in and out of each plugin is under control. This is huge. Just do it.
  6. Don’t be scared to chain a couple of compressors on the same channel. Two plugins doing 3dB of compression is probably going to sound more transparent (if that's what you're after) than one doing 6dB. I'll often use a bunch. Same goes for limiting. Mix the colours. Don't tell anyone.
  7. Bonus Tip: It takes fucking ages to learn how to mix/be a "Mix Engineer", before you really know your arse from your elbow. This is time you will need to take away from some other activity: writing songs, rehearsing, practicing, playing/organising shows, doing band admin/social media stuff, spending time with loved ones (jk) - and if you don't have much of a life, you could be off pretending that you have one on social media. DO YOU REALLY WANNA DO THAT THO. Do you want to make that 'sacrifice' and is this the best use of your time - or is it just ego so that you can say that 'you did it'? Budget comes into it too, of course, but if you're going to spend your money somewhere, you'd be MUCH better offer getting someone that knows what they're doing to mix your tracks, and then mastering them yourself. If they mix them properly, you'll likely only need to slap a limiter on them to get the level up. Don't believe the mastering hype. It's not black magic.

That's all. Party on 🤘🏻🤘🏼🤘🏾🤘🏿

Ed 🎚🎛❤️