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9 Common Mixing Mistakes

Rodney Money

On V.I. avoiding work.
I enjoyed the read, and especially the advice on the use of a limiter. And although I have only been using a DAW for about a year, your article has reassured me that I may be on the right path after all.
 
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Walid F.

Walid F.

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I enjoyed the read, and especially the advice of the use of a limiter. And although I have only been using a DAW for about a year, your article has reassured me that I may be on the right path after all.

Yes, limiters are really useful!

W.
 
It's a good article, and I agree with all your tips. The one thing that bothers me is that I think mistake #3 and mistake #8 would be better presented as a single mistake about unnecessary sonic elements. Mistake #3 really seems to just be a subset of mistake #8, so I'm not sure why they can't be combined. But that's a minor complaint - great work overall!
 

pmountford

Senior Member
All good stuff but just wondering about #8 - absolutely agree on removing unnecessary low end but 'eq away' the high end of double basses? Not so sure thats something I would do. But hey if it works, then great. Will try.
 

pixel

Senior Member
All good stuff but just wondering about #8 - absolutely agree on removing unnecessary low end but 'eq away' the high end of double basses? Not so sure thats something I would do. But hey if it works, then great. Will try.

I agree. Point #8 collide a little bit with point #1. Actually there's no much need to cut higher frequencies as these doesn't have as much energy as these on lower end of the spectrum. It should be done only if they clash with higher freqs of another instrument but still I would prefer to EQ it with peak filter instead of low passing it.
But at the end.. it's all depend on source
 
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Walid F.

Walid F.

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It's a good article, and I agree with all your tips. The one thing that bothers me is that I think mistake #3 and mistake #8 would be better presented as a single mistake about unnecessary sonic elements. Mistake #3 really seems to just be a subset of mistake #8, so I'm not sure why they can't be combined. But that's a minor complaint - great work overall!

The main reason is that the low end is a high focus area in pretty much all genres. It's tricky to mix properly - especially for beginners. So I wanted to make #3 its own point, while #8 is an overall philosophy on the entire spectrum, not necessarily focusing on the low end. Thank you, David!

Thank you for sharing, very inspiring.
Cheers! :)

All good stuff but just wondering about #8 - absolutely agree on removing unnecessary low end but 'eq away' the high end of double basses? Not so sure thats something I would do. But hey if it works, then great. Will try.

That's a really good point. Sometimes keeping high end works nicely in orchestral contexts, but I find that if you want a cleaner, and at the same time warmer mix, you can take away some of the highs from double basses. But I changed it in the actual article a bit thanks to your post! Cheers.

Good article. Id actually put orchestration first in the article if nothing else - if the orchestration is not good you will be polishing s*** the whole time in the mixing process.

Exactly! I actually put it last because it's such an important thing that people should leave the article thinking about it. Orchestration is what makes up the entire thing - it's the actual sound choices and it determines how everything else sounds after it. Right on.

I agree. Point #8 collide a little bit with point #1. Actually there's no much need to cut higher frequencies as these doesn't have as much energy as these on lower end of the spectrum. It should be done only if they clash with higher freqs of another instrument but still I would prefer to EQ it with peak filter instead of low passing it.
But at the end.. it's all depend on source

The reason #8 resonates with #1, in my opinion, is that you should ALWAYS mix reactively and if the mix actually sounds better with the high end - you should definitely keep it. If you just remove sounds just because, the mix will end up odd. I did change #8 slightly though to correct myself a bit! Thank you for the critique - much appreciated! :)

very well written and great presentation. keep 'em coming!

Thank you! Cheers. :)

Thanks for all the comments and critiques, I really appreciate it. Makes me become a better writer, a better producer and overall learn to become a better mediator. Cheers, guys.

W.
 

Ashermusic

Senior Member
I mostly agree except that I have heard people ruin the sound of lovely libraries by cutting out too much of the low stuff. You want to be absolutely sure that you are only cutting out what needs to be cut out. The Hippocratic Oath-"First, do no harm" -applies.

And always when dealing with sound, be wary of the word "always." :)
 

dgburns

Leg Ahh toe / Shpeig haw too
Some thoughts on things you didn't talk about but maybe should have.

-keep your listening level at the exact same volume once set.(otherwise you're just fooling yourself)
-maintain proper gain staging throughout.(otherwise your gain staging is gonna bite you in the ass going through those plugins etc)
-arrange the shit out of your music.(well,you know this is the one thing many can't bring themselves to do)
-use volume rides to get you there.(before eq/comp or other fixes,just try volume rides,it's what the old farts know to do)
-fix the sounds at the source first before turning to eq/comp/whatever.
-don't turn down the bass sissy,make sure it's in PHASE!(and mono in the very low end)
-brighten up those dull mixes ,especially with them sample libs (live players almost always have way more vibe/life to them)
-back off that verb on those English sample libraries from you know where.
-if you really need a loud master,make it that way at the very end.Turn off all that master channel plugin goo until the mix is happening and you're ready to deal with the final stage.
-and if you're getting to a more advanced stage,start to use side-chaining to create space and movement with the instruments.
-Mix with emotion,get into the intent of the music,push it out further by seeing how far out there you can pull elements to bring interest.
-Try to create unexpected events,once the listener can anticipate where you're going,they start to lose interest.(ok,that's more of a writin thing)
 

Arbee

Senior Member
-if you really need a loud master,make it that way at the very end.Turn off all that master channel plugin goo until the mix is happening and you're ready to deal with the final stage.
Great thread and great post. This point though is a view I've held until more recently, but I'm now trying to give more thought to preparing the mix for a loud master by more careful EQ and compression sculpting on individual tracks, the theory being the final mastering limiter step isn't then so brutal. I keep some mastering plugins on the mix master bus just to "try out" the loudness for later.
 

dgburns

Leg Ahh toe / Shpeig haw too
Great thread and great post. This point though is a view I've held until more recently, but I'm now trying to give more thought to preparing the mix for a loud master by more careful EQ and compression sculpting on individual tracks, the theory being the final mastering limiter step isn't then so brutal. I keep some mastering plugins on the mix master bus just to "try out" the loudness for later.

yep,good point.
 
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Walid F.

Walid F.

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I mostly agree except that I have heard people ruin the sound of lovely libraries by cutting out too much of the low stuff. You want to be absolutely sure that you are only cutting out what needs to be cut out. The Hippocratic Oath-"First, do no harm" -applies.

And always when dealing with sound, be wary of the word "always." :)

Yeah you're right! It is exactly why I disclaim in the beginning to never ever do anything without listening to it. Always mix reactively, listen to your mix and then apply what you think it might need and see if it actually sounds better or not - not just apply processes blindly! :) Thanks for the tip!

Some thoughts on things you didn't talk about but maybe should have.

-keep your listening level at the exact same volume once set.(otherwise you're just fooling yourself)
-maintain proper gain staging throughout.(otherwise your gain staging is gonna bite you in the ass going through those plugins etc)
-arrange the shit out of your music.(well,you know this is the one thing many can't bring themselves to do)
-use volume rides to get you there.(before eq/comp or other fixes,just try volume rides,it's what the old farts know to do)
-fix the sounds at the source first before turning to eq/comp/whatever.
-don't turn down the bass sissy,make sure it's in PHASE!(and mono in the very low end)
-brighten up those dull mixes ,especially with them sample libs (live players almost always have way more vibe/life to them)
-back off that verb on those English sample libraries from you know where.
-if you really need a loud master,make it that way at the very end.Turn off all that master channel plugin goo until the mix is happening and you're ready to deal with the final stage.
-and if you're getting to a more advanced stage,start to use side-chaining to create space and movement with the instruments.
-Mix with emotion,get into the intent of the music,push it out further by seeing how far out there you can pull elements to bring interest.
-Try to create unexpected events,once the listener can anticipate where you're going,they start to lose interest.(ok,that's more of a writin thing)

Brilliant tips, thank you for that. Will keep them in mind for the future. :) Thanks again, dgburns!

Awesome comments and feedback I've gotten on this, many things that I am learning as well from producers more professional than myself. Good stuff!

Cheers,
W.
 

mikehamm123

Member
9 Common Mixing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them--#8 will shock you! :laugh:

this is great stuff, and a great discussion. I have a weird question--I don't have a great sound system, and can't play loud where I live. If I were to book studio time to do my final mixes (i.e. bring my laptop with Logic Pro fired up) what would I ask for?

 

AR

Senior Member
Not so long ago the great Alan Meyers said: Use more panning and stereo width in film music (with delays and doublers) since the dialog's always in the center and you don't wanna disturb that one.
 

Replicant

Active Member
Glad to see mistake #1 is "orchestration"

because it really is the biggest, most common mistake.

Great article!
 

afterlight82

Active Member
no. 3 is only partially true. Theoretically a 32 bit floating point based DAW has huge headroom above and beyond what is displayed on the channel VU meters (up to ~1500db, though that is very debatable in one sense). The quality of the plugins you use doesn't really affect things - there are some cheap plugins that implement this efficiently and some expensive ones that don't. You should mix quieter in terms of your listening level (which you should calibrate properly) and you should make sure your master buss is nowhere near topping out especially if printing audio, but on individual channels you can have decent signal levels, but the reality is that most DAWs and plugins can handle reasonable signal levels. I've watched people deliver files that were super quiet "because they sound better"...actually, they don't. You really have to blitz some plugins (eg fabfilter) before they actually clip internally. The other thing is most DAW faders have considerably better resolution the closer they get to unity, so you want to use the "pre" - the pre fader gain - to set the audio such that the approximate location you will have the fader is around unity. Then you will have much finer control on detailed, 1-3db rides to finesse things. If your faders are down towards the bottom of the run a tiny move will make much bigger changes and your rides will be less smooth.

Calibrate your monitor levels properly and you really shouldn't have a problem even if you have your channels running warm...if they're lit up like Vegas, yeah, back off unless you want that David Guetta sound (he clips everything, basically), but if you're doing that enough that you're introducing distortion in a floating point system well then, you're probably a doing a lot of other things wrong that you should consider first!
 
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