The Science Of Art: Another Six Quick Mix Tips

To business:

  1. If you need more than 3-4dB of gain reduction on your master bus limiter to get up to a decent rough mix/mastering level, you’ve probably fucked up the balance of your mix (oops). Even if you're mastering 'for real though', the limiter shouldn't really need more than this even if you're trying to break people's ears - mastering compressors/saturation should take a lot of this load.
  2. Don’t be scared to automate up certain tracks (drum bus, bass, guitars etc) a dB or two on the chorus. Sounds like a lot of work? That's because you're lazy and useless and a bad person. Hell, you can even just do it on the master, a db or so, if you want. I mean, after all, you've gain staged everything so well, you have enough headroom to do that, yeah?
  3. If you want heavily compressed vox and a loud mix you’re probably going to need a hell of a lot of de-essing. That’s OK. Check my previous mix tip on how to do that properly here.
  4. Turn off your monitor occasionally when listening to the mix. If you have a control surface that lets you tweak levels etc while the screen is off, even better. Close your eyes at the very least.
  5. Don't worry about only putting reverb on sends. Insert it, insert it good, if that’s what sounds best.
  6. Feel free to cut the breath sounds and de-ess more on backing vox. I generally never remove breath sounds on lead vox, although but it’s OK to turn them down if they distract from the song/lyric - but backing vox breaths can make things sound messy. Often the backing vox will sound a bit too 'over done' in terms of de-essing when heard in isolation (but they'll never be heard like that so....) - or I might even cut the sibilant part out completely if it hits at exactly the same time as the lead vox. Don't worry about what it looks like, whatever sounds best, yeah?
  7. Bonus Tip: Get out the studio/garage/bedroom for a bit before the muse leaves you because you’re a lonely super nerd with no friends. I have no experience of this, but I know some guys who tell me it's a valid point.

With love,

Ed 🎚🎛❤️