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Not using References
1.Finding a balance between the elements of the song you’re mixing i.e depth.
2.Help you set an anchor point for the correlation between the low:mid:high frequencies.
Every mix will obviously need a very different treatment depending on the sounds and the performances that you’re dealing with, but having a reference mix gives you a good starting point. Having a reference mix also helps you find out how much closer you are getting to your end goal.
No Editing or Comping
Not having a clear Perception and Direction.
Overuse of EQ and Compression
We’ve all been in situations where we tend to overprocess sounds. The reason might be that the sound is either badly recorded and/or doesn’t fit into your perception of the mix. It is important to know that there is a certain extent to which we can manipulate sounds. When we start applying too much compression or eq we end up adding extra artifacts to the sound thereby making them even harder to fit into a range of sounds. This usually happens with acoustically recorded sounds more than synthesized sounds. I have seen numerous students trying to make a guitar sound full by adding a lot of 120 to 200 Hz into the guitar almost making it sound fake and boxy. When working with EQ and Compression, know how much you can change the sound. For example, if the guitar has been recorded using a small diaphragm condenser at the neck, it is intrinsically going to sound thin. Instead of adding extra lows to the guitar find out how you can fit this sound in context to whatever else has been recorded.
Overthinking / Not Mixing Intuitively
Usually, when I sit down to start a mix, I let my intuitive self kick in and set a balance of all the sounds that sound right to me without overthinking it at all. This is the first step to getting a good balance of the song. In this stage, it becomes very clear to me which elements of the mix are going to dominate which sections of the song i.e is the bass going to dominate the low end or is it kick and so on and so forth. Letting your intuitive mind kick in is very important as it helps you make quick decisions during the first 15 minutes of your mix.
In my opinion, this is a much better way to mix than to sit down and tweak the Kick and Bass for the first half an hour of your mixing stage. Make Quick Decisions and move forward. Sometimes your intuition will lead you astray, but this is where you can sit down and critically analyze your mix to find a good balance between both systems. As you keep practicing further you’ll find your intuitive sense getting stronger and better.
Not setting up the right Listening Environment
Almost every single student I’ve taught has asked me this question once. “The mix sounds so great on my headphones but why does it sound so bad on speakers ?” We all know the answer to this, and I’m sure all of you guys reading this post must have had this question at some point in time. The answer is simple, not having a good listening environment and not testing your mixes out on different speakers or monitors or earphones, etc.
When we work with only one listening environment our mix will depend on the frequency response of that room, say for example if we work in an untreated room without bass traps where the low frequencies are getting canceled out, mixes done in this listening environment will tend to have way more low end on other speakers or headphones. Since the room we are mixing in has less of low frequencies we will tend to add more while mixing so that it sounds balanced.
But here, although your mix will sound fine on those set of speakers in that specific room, if you take this mix outside it will not translate. The only way to fix this problem is to listen to your mix on different speakers, headphones, etc while your working on your mix and tweaking them as you go along. If the bass sounds alright on your speakers but sounds like its too boomy on your headphones, try to find a balance between both those points. The more you practice this, the better you will get at understanding how your speakers sound in that specific room. This will in turn help you set an anchor point listening.
Check out this blog that talks about mixing on Headphones!