This post was originally inspired by a great question asked by @joegilder over at Home Studio Corner – I started typing my reply in the comments there and liked it so much I thought I’d make a blog post out of it !
So without further ado, here’s my “Top Mixing Tip”:
Learn what your studio monitoring sounds like.
How often have you got a mix sounding great, you take it and play it on your hi-fi, or in the car or wherever, and all kinds of problems immediately leap out at you ? That’s because you’ve subconsciously learned over the years what things “should” sound like on those everyday systems, just by listening to music you like, the radio etc. We know them so well, we make instant, reliable judgements on them.
Whereas most of us don’t spend nearly as much time just listening to music on our studio monitoring.
So that’s my suggestion – listen to your studio, and learn how it sounds. Whenever you’re not actually listening to your own mixes, plug in your iPod, put on shuffle and have it on in the background.
You don’t have to listen carefully, or sit in the sweet spot or anything – your brain will add all those factors up for you while you’re doing other stuff – installing gear, backing up files, surfing or whatever.
That’s it ! Over time you will subconsciously learn all kinds of stuff about the way your studio sounds, and this will filter through into better results from your mixing – all without trying.
My only word of caution would be to avoid listening to too many “hyper-compressed” Loudness War casualties – these will train tempt to overdo the compression and limiting, which would be a Bad Thing.
(If you don’t know which tracks are over-compressed, check them with the TT Dynamic Range meter plugin – anything that consistently shows less than DR8 is probably too squashed.)
Using this process you’ll find your tracks are mastered with a more balanced EQ, which will help them translate better to the widest possible range of playback systems. This is one of the key benefits of mastering. If you’d like to really dig into this topic in detail, click here.
Image by Sappymoosetree