This is something I wish I did as a beginner long before I did it
Recreating your sessions over and over again is a waste of time
Even if all you do is create tracks for elements you normally have in your mix it will save you time
Things like a kick track, snare track, lead vocal track, etc. and one reverb track and one delay track, and a few busses like drum bus, vocal bus, etc. will save you so much time
You don't even need to save plugins if your just starting out, just save some basic tracks and routing and work from there
You have your whole career to build and add to this template, but do not waste hundreds of hours recreating sessions from scratch
And, for example, if you have only one lead vocal track saved in your template and you import a song that has 3 vocal tracks, just duplicate your one vocal track until you have 3 instead of creating 3 vocal tracks.
This will save you so much time, and creating templates is one of the most powerful mixing tips for beginners that I can share with you
2.) Musical vs Transparent EQ's
Not every EQ is made the same.
There are different kinds of EQ's out there that are used for different purposes such as linear phase EQ's and dynamic EQ's, but for the sake of this post we are only gonna talk about two types: Musical and transparent
Musical EQ's tend to be used more for boosting frequencies because they add what many engineers call "color" to the sound
These EQ's tend to have their own unique sound and character that is pleasing to the ear when boosted.
An example of this would be the SSL EQ, which is supposed to emulate the SSL channel strip
Then there are transparent EQ's. Though these can be used for boosting, they are more often used for cutting frequencies.
This is because they tend to sound transparent. They don't add the same color to a sound, and when you make the cuts they don't normally sound as much like you took a chunk out of the sound
Learning key commands for many mixers who are learning is often an afterthought
You are already trying to learn technical stuff, refine your ear, learn what sounds good, routing, and every other thing that goes into mixing, and now you got to learn and remember key commands too!?
I understand in the beginning it can be overwhelming, so don't stress too much, but key commands will make your life a lot easier and save you countless hours in your career
Start simple, and learn the key commands for things like saving your sessions and undoing and redoing actions
As you get more and more experience, start asking yourself what you do all the time, and if it's possible to set up a key command or a macro for it
Macro's are just multiple key commands done at once with one key command
For example, I have a macro set up to export my session that selects the whole song from beginning to end and pops up the export window all by using one key command
I have another macro set up one for disabling and hiding tracks with one move
I also have key commands for combining tracks to stereo, splitting stereo tracks to mono, deleting tracks, and so forth
All of these commands save me so much time in the long run
Admittedly I should learn even more key commands, and some people have their key commands and macros dialed in so well that they can do almost everything with key commands
It's pretty crazy, but start by learning the essential ones like saving your session and undoing mistakes
9.) Reference Mixes
This is powerful no matter what stage of your career you are in, but this is definitely one of the most helpful mixing tips for beginners when you're starting out and trying to figure out how to make a song sound good
Find some of your favorite songs and mixes of all time and reference those next to your mix
Now of course, try to find something that is similar sonically. Referencing the Beatles while mixing an EDM song probably won't help you much
To get a reference mix, I have heard that there are sites where you may be able to download your favorite songs, but I actually have this software I love to use called Itube studio that let's me download audio from videos off of Youtube.
Unlike sketchy Youtube to mp3 converters online, this is actually a paid software and works very well
To go along with this software I like to use Metric AB to load in these files into my session so I can very easily reference these tracks in my session
This makes life so much easier for referencing
10.) Make Space For Kick And Bass
If you don't pay attention to your low end, every mix you do will suck
Cut out low frequencies on tracks that don't need it to make room for the kick and bass
Even if you don't think that low end is doing anything - like in a hi hat for example - it is still eating up headroom and muddying up your mix
You also need to make sure your kick and bass are working well together
This can be tricky in untreated rooms without a sub.
It's even still tricky for me sometimes, but analyzers and your car stereo system can be a great way to check your low end if your monitoring environment is less than ideal
I've also heard many people say to check your low end on headphones.
Aside from taking the room sound out of the equation, I have never understood this one
Most headphones aren't capable of producing super low-end frequencies, and this has never really helped me
Point is though, learn to make your low end solid
11.) Don't Over EQ
Over EQ-ing will destroy a mix, and often times happens when you are mixing in solo too much
Solo is helpful, but no one will hear these tracks in solo, so what they sound like together matters most
If you frequently over EQ, you may just be fighting yourself.
My recommendation is you learn to get good at hearing a sound, identifying what's wrong with it, and making an EQ move quickly and move on
A great exercise is to import a song into your session with no routing or plugins, and do a rough balance of your tracks.
Then put an EQ on every track (or if you have an EQ on every track like in Cubase or logic, use that one) and then go through each track and only allow yourself 15 seconds to EQ each track before moving onto the next one, then see how it sounds afterwards.
This will teach you how to listen, identify, and fix quickly.
The quicker you can make decisions, the better you will be and the more time you will save
12.) Don't Over Compress
I wanna make something clear here with this tip and the last tip: If it sounds good it is good
If a 10db EQ boost or 10db of compression sounds good, it isn't wrong
Many beginners are terrified of doing too much because they think it's wrong
That said, if you compress too much and it doesn't sound good, it will ruin your mix
Over compressing can bring out too much sibilance and too many breaths from a vocal, kill the transients on your drums, kill the movement on your guitars, bass, or chords, and squash the crap out of your whole mix if it's on the master bus
Over time you will learn to hear how compression bends and pushes and pulls the sound.
It isn't just a tool for bringing loud and quit parts closer together, it's also a creative tool
Compression can be used creatively to create movement and/or add color to a sound depending on what compressor you use
My best recommendation for making sure you don't over compress something is to compress the crap out of it, and then dial the compression back and listen to how different it sounds
13.) Mix At Different Volumes
Your ear will be more sensitive to certain frequencies at certain volumes.
Not only that, but you will want to push your speakers enough that they sound the way they should
Mixing too quiet can often times cause you to not be able to hear all the details of your mix,
But mixing too loud will cause you to think your mix is too bright or harsh because your ears will be more sensitive to those upper-mids and higher frequencies at those louder volumes.
It will also cause your ears to fatigue much quicker, and if you are mixing a lot of songs or spending a lot of time on a mix, you don't want that
I try to mix where I can still talk at a normal volume and hear myself pretty easily.
Once I start getting the mix dialed in, I try to bump it up a little louder for a couple minutes to see if anything really stands out to me, and then I bring it back down
14.) Understand phase
This is something you need to learn early on.
Phase is essentially the relationship between two waveforms
Basically, if a sound is in phase then it will sound good. If it's out of phase, it will sound thin, weak, and perhaps disappear altogether
A perfect example is a snare and snare bottom recording.
Because the snare was recorded with two different mics, each mic will pick up the sound at slightly different times
Because of this, the snare top and bottom are often times out of phase with each other
The solution to this is to flip the phase on the snare top or bottom.
If the sound gets fuller and more audible, it's more in phase. If it get's weaker or sounds worse, it's more out of phase.
There are other situations where you may run into phase issues, such your overhead recordings or parallel processing.
When you do parallel processing, the plugins will be modifying the waveform and potentially introducing low levels of latency that can cause phase issues
A simple way to check this is, once again, to flip the phase
Phase may not be an issue for you very often, especially when working with programmed music, but when it is an issue, it's a big issue, and understanding it and recognizing when it's a problem will save your mix
15.) Learn Balancing
Mixing is basically just using your tools to balance the volumes, frequencies, stereo spectrum, and the dynamics of all the different elements in your mix
Sometimes the issue with your mix is as simple as having one element too hot, like a kick drum being too loud, or vocals that are too quiet
Sometimes all you need to do to make a mix way better is turn something up or down
Go check that out if you are struggling with balance and let me know how it's helped you
16.) Sample rate
This is one of those mixing tips for beginners that I still forget about myself sometimes Sample rate is pretty simple. Just make sure your session sample rate and track sample rate match every time
If they don't, the song will sound lower and slower, or higher and faster
Always check this before you start mixing
I have had it happen a few times where I forgot to check this and mixed the whole song thinking it was right, just for the client to tell me it sounded really weird.
I immediately knew what happened, and then I basically had to mix the song again.
However, make sure you match the session sample rate to the tracks, not the other way around
Don't be like me, and make sure they match
I hope you enjoyed this post about 16 Mixing Tips For Beginners
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