15 Pro Mixing Tips for Beginners: A Quick Guide

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15 Pro Mixing Tips for Beginners: A Quick Guide


Feb 8, 2023


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If you are a beginner and want to learn more about mixing, then this is the article for you. We will talk about 15 pro tips that can be used by beginners to help them improve their mixes. You may know some of these already or not know any at all, but we hope that after reading this article, you feel like an expert!


Mixing music can be confusing if you do not know what you are doing. Mixing requires skill and practice in order to get good at it, but even the most skilled engineer was once a beginner who had no clue where they were going with their mixing process. I hope that after reading this article, beginners will have more of an understanding on mixing and especially why certain steps should occur before others when learning how to become better at it. If you want your mixes to improve quickly then read on! This post contains advice for both electronic producers as well as acoustic musicians looking into producing other forms of media such as film scores or podcasts etc… We will start with the most basic of basics and move our way up gradually to more advanced topics.


Always start with the song 's foundation


The first thing you want to do when mixing a song is to make sure that your foundations are solid. This means making sure that all of your tracks are lined up correctly, have the correct gain levels, and are in phase with each other. If any of these things are not correct then it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to get a good mix. You don 't want to spend hours on end mixing a track just for it to sound terrible in the end because of one simple mistake that you could have avoided from the beginning.


EQ your tracks properly


Equalization or "EQing" is one of the most important aspects of mixing. This is where you can sculpt the sound of your track to make it fit better in the mix. There are no golden rules when it comes to EQing, as each song will require its own unique set of adjustments, but there are a few tips that can be followed in order to help beginners get started.


First and foremost, always remember to "think before you EQ". What this means is that you should have a clear idea of what you want the end result to sound like before starting to adjust any frequencies. If you do not have a plan then it will be very easy to go overboard with the EQ and ruin your mix. Secondly, try not to over-EQ your tracks. Just because something is not sounding right, it does not mean that you need to boost or cut every frequency in order to fix it. Sometimes a small adjustment is all that is needed, and over-EQing can often make things sound worse rather than better. Lastly, always make sure that your EQ moves are smooth and gradual. If you start boosting or cutting frequencies by large amounts then it will be very obvious to the listener and will most likely ruin the song.


Use compression wisely


Compression is another tool that can be used during the mixing process in order to control the dynamics of a track. Again, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes too compression, as each mix will require its own unique settings, but there are a few tips that can help beginners get started.


The first thing to remember is that compression should only be used when necessary. If you apply compression to every track in your mix then it will start to sound very "squashed" and will lose its dynamic range. Secondly, always make sure that the compressor is set up correctly. This means setting the correct threshold, ratio, and attack/release times for each individual track. Lastly, use compression subtly. It should never be heard consciously by the listener, but rather it should just help to control the dynamics of the track and make everything sound more cohesive.


Use reverb and delay wisely


Reverb and delay are two other effects that can be used during the mixing process in order to make a track sound more polished and professional. Again, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to using these effects, as each mix will require its own unique settings, but there are a few tips that can help beginners get started.


The first thing to remember is that reverb and delay should only be used when necessary. Just like compression, if you apply these effects to every track in your mix then it will start to sound very cluttered and muddy. Secondly, always make sure that the reverb and delay settings are correct for each individual track. This means setting the right amount of decay time, pre-delay, and feedback for each track. Lastly, use these effects subtly. They should never be heard consciously by the listener, but rather they should just help to add a sense of space and dimension to the mix.


Use panning wisely


Panning is another tool that can be used during the mixing process in order to control the placement of a track in the stereo field. Again, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to panning, as each mix will require its own unique settings, but there are a few tips that can help beginners get started.


The first thing to remember is that panning should only be used when necessary. Just like compression and reverb/delay, if you apply these to every track in your mix then it will start to sound very unnatural and unbalanced. Secondly, always make sure that the panning is set correctly for each individual track. This means placing things in the right place within the stereo field and making sure they do not clash with any other elements of your mix (e.g., lead vocals). Lastly, use these effects subtly as you would reverb/delay or compression. They should never be heard consciously by the listener but rather just help to add a sense of space and directionality to the mix.


Use creative EQing sparingly


As we have already mentioned earlier on in this article, it can sometimes be tempting when mixing tracks to boost frequencies simply because something sounds wrong without first thinking about how the EQ will affect the rest of your mix. This can often lead to a track sounding harsh, muddy or cluttered so it is important that you only apply creative EQing sparingly and with care.


The first thing to remember when using creative EQs is never boost frequencies unless you have good reason for doing so because boosting frequencies without thinking about how it affects the rest of your mix can lead to problems further down the line. Secondly, always make sure that whatever filter settings are used on each individual track are correct as this will determine whether an instrument sits well within the overall mix or sounds out of place in some way. Lastly, use these effects subtly as you would reverb/delay, compression or panning - they should not be heard consciously by the listener but rather just help to add some clarity and definition to the mix.


Use parallel compression sparingly


Parallel compression is a technique that can be used during the mixing process in order to control the dynamics of a track. It involves sending a copy of the track you want to compress (the 'dry ' signal) into a separate compressor and then blending this compressed signal back in with the original ( 'wet ') signal. This technique can be very effective in controlling the dynamics of a track, but it should only be used sparingly as too much parallel compression can often lead to a track sounding muddy or cluttered.


The first thing to remember when using parallel compression is always to make sure that the compressor settings are correct for both the 'dry ' and 'wet ' signals. This means setting the right threshold, ratio and release time for each signal. Secondly, always make sure that you are blending the two signals together correctly - too much parallel compression can often lead to a track sounding muddy or cluttered so it is important to find the right balance. Lastly, use these effects subtly as you would with any other type of effect - they should never be heard consciously by the listener but rather just help to control the dynamics of a track in a subtle way.


Use saturation sparingly


Saturation is a type of distortion that can be used during the mixing process in order to add warmth and character to a track. It can be used on individual tracks, busses or even the whole mix but it should only be applied sparingly as too much saturation is not pleasant to listen to and will likely lead your listener toward ear fatigue.


The first thing to remember when using saturation effects is always keep an eye on the gain reduction meter of whatever device you are feeding into - if this starts hitting above 0dB then you know that things have gone way too far because clipping occurs whenever output levels exceed digital maximums (0dB). Secondly, use these effects subtly as you would with any other type of effect - they should never be heard consciously by the listener but rather just help add some warmth and character in a subtle way.


Use compression sparingly


Compression is a type of dynamic range control that can be used during the mixing process in order to level out volume differences between tracks and create punchier mixes. It does this by reducing the gain on any signal whose amplitude falls below a certain threshold, which can help provide clarity and power to your mix as well as making it sound punchier overall.


The first thing to remember when using compression effects is always make sure that you 've got good attack and release settings for each individual track (or buss) because these determine how fast the compressor 'kicks ' in or releases after signals pass above the threshold. Secondly, set correct ratios depending on whether you want subtlety or more aggressive compression - a ratio of around two to one will give you more aggressive compression while a ratio of six to one will provide more subtle compression. Lastly, always make sure that you 're compressing the right signals by using the solo button on each track - this will help you to hear how the compressor is affecting each individual sound.


Don't over mix or rely on automation alone!


When it comes down making changes, one thing people often forget is how important subtlety can be when trying achieve something more natural sounding especially in genres like pop, rock and jazz. This is why it 's always best to mix in small increments as opposed to making large changes all at once because not only does this allow you to A/B your work more easily but it also gives you a better idea of what the final result will sound like - after all, overmixing can often lead to a cluttered or 'sloppy ' mix that doesn't sit well with listeners. Additionally, don 't forget that automation is your friend! Often times small tweaks here and there can make a big difference when trying achieve something more natural sounding so be sure to take advantage of this powerful tool during the mixing process.


Check your mixes on multiple systems


It 's always a good idea to check your mixes on multiple systems (ie: different headphones, speakers, etc) in order to get a better idea of how they 'll actually sound when played back in the real world. This is because what may seem like a great mix in your studio might not translate well on other systems - and vice versa.


Use reference tracks sparingly


Although it can be helpful to use commercial or reference tracks as a guide during the mixing process, it 's important not to rely too heavily on them otherwise you 'll start copying someone else 's work rather than creating something original. In fact, I often find that using references can actually hinder my ability to come up with creative ideas of my own so try to use them sparingly and only when you really need them.


Take a break!


Mixing can be a tiring process so it 's important to take regular breaks in order to clear your head and come back with fresh ears. Not only will this help you work more efficiently but it 'll also allow you to hear your mixes in a different light, which can often lead to new and innovative ideas.


Watch the stereo field!


One thing I 've noticed when listening back on my mixes is that they tend to sound much wider than I originally intended; ie: there seems to always be this 'gap ' between certain parts in which everything just seems to blend together rather than sit nicely side by side like two distinct tracks playing at once. Although these types of discrepancies don 't always need to be corrected, it 's something you should at least be aware of so that you can make the necessary changes if needed.


Have patience!


Mixing is a process that takes time and practice in order to get right so don 't expect to perfect your technique overnight. In fact, I still find myself learning new things every day and constantly tweaking my workflow in order to achieve better results so don 't be discouraged if things aren 't going according to plan. Just keep practicing and eventually you 'll start getting the hang of things.


If you are a beginner and want to learn more about mixing, then this is the article for you. We will talk about 15 pro tips that can be used by beginners to help them improve their mixes. You may know some of these already or not know any at all, but we hope that after reading this article, you feel like an expert!

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