20 Noob Mixing Mistakes To Avoid

Noob Mixing Mistakes

Are you just starting out as a mixer and want some powerful tips to help you on your journey?

My name is Andrew Aurora and I help artists and producers bring their creative vision to life through Mixing and Mastering

And today I wanna talk about
20 Noob Mixing Mistakes To Avoid

Let's jump right in

20 Noob Mixing Mistakes To Avoid That I Wish I Would Have Known!

1.) Not Establishing A Workflow

This is one of the biggest noob mixing mistakes I made for awhile

When starting out it can be really difficult to know where to start or how to lay the foundation for your mix

A lot of noobs feel like every song is different, so every song needs to be approached differently

This is the wrong way of thinking

You need to establish your own workflow and build templates around that workflow that you can repeat again and again and refine over time

I've heard some people say things like "every song is different so you shouldn't build templates or else every song will sound the same."

This is bad advice from people who don't know what they are talking about

The best and most efficient mixers use templates with their favorite routing and favorite plugin chains set up in a way that they know like the back of their hand

Having this all pre-setup allows them to quickly and consistently get great results every time

A perfect example of this is one of my favorite mixers and the author of the book "Template Mixing and Mastering", Billy Decker.

This dude mixes songs in about 45 minutes on average, and his songs sound nearly done the moment he puts them into his template and adjusts the clip gain

He got this quick by refining a workflow that worked for him and became a legend in the country music scene

Start establishing how you like to work and repeat that every time.

I'm not saying you don't experiment or try new things, but start laying the foundation and build off of it


2.) No Organization

This is similar to the last tip because organization plays a huge part in workflow

Have everything labeled, color coded, and organized in a way that you can keep up with that works for you

This is way better than having randomly named tracks that are all the same color scattered all over your session

That is a recipe for disaster

Not only that, but have your files organized, named properly, and saved in at least 3 places

This ensures nothing is ever lost and you can always find what you are looking for


3.) Ignoring Your Mids

Too many people focus on highs and lows with their mixes, and this is one of the noob mixing mistakes I made for years

Though they are important, a lot of your energy and fullness is going to come from your mid-range

This is where clarity in things like the vocals, guitars, chord, keys, and so forth is going to live.

In solo it can sound good to boost highs and lows, but in context with the rest of the mix you are going to have weak, and sometimes unclear, mixes by neglecting the mid-range

Be sure to give your mid-range some love

4.) Not Using Automation

Without automation your mixes can sound really static and boring

Automation is like the icing on a completed cake, and it's those details that really breath life into a mix

Not every song needs a lot of automation, but most songs benefit from at least some

You can use volume automation to make certain sections have more impact or make certain things pop in a mix

Or you can automate delays on the ends of vocals to hear that echo more

You may try automating EQ in the hook or chorus of a song to make it feel more alive and bright

You might even try automating panning to add spatial movement to your song

There is so much you can do with automation to make your mixes come to life, and you will learn when and what kind of automation with practice


5.) Not Matching BPM

Out of all the noob mixing mistakes, this one is probably the easiest to do, but what's easy to do is also easy not to do

Not matching the bpm of your song will make automating harder

This is because you won't be able to snap automation to the appropriate point on the grid, because the grid won't line up with the song

Not only that, but you won't be able to sync your delays to the bpm of the song, which will add extra work for you when trying to do delays.

This is super simple and easy. Usually you can ask the artist, or even tap out the bpm yourself if you need to.

It's easy to forget about, but adds extra headache and trouble for you if you ignore it


6.) Don't Mix In The Production Or Editing Phase

If you are someone who produces your own music, don't start mixing before the editing and production is over

Don't get me wrong, part of sound design involves some aspects of mixing, but you should not still be tuning a vocal or picking your drum samples while mixing

You need to have the production and editing fully finished before you start mixing

Otherwise you are going to be bouncing between mixing, production, and editing and your life will be so much harder

Commit to your edits and production and then dedicate an entire session to mixing so all of your attention can be focused on mixing


7.) Not Matching Sample Rate

I've talked about this one before, but I want to mention it again because it's so important and has tripped me up multiple times throughout my career

In fact, if I'm being honest, I still make this noob mixing mistake sometimes

I'll put a session in my template, start mixing, think it sounds great, and then send it to the artist just to find out that it sounds really weird to them

When this happens I immediately know what I screwed up; the sample rate

Sometimes I forget to check to see if the sample rate of the files and my session match

When they don't match it causes the song to sound down-pitched and slow, or high-pitched and fast

This causes me to basically have to mix the song twice after I change the sample rate

Always make sure to check this and always change your session sample rate to the files sample rate, not the other way around

8.) Not Giving Yourself An Ear Break

Our ears play tricks on us. Don't believe me?

When was the last time you made changes to a plugin and thought it was sounding so much better, just to find out that the plugin was bypassed?

We've all done it, no shame in it, but it proves that our ears play tricks on us

When you have been mixing for around 30-60 minutes, get up and take a 15 minute ear break.

Step outside, get some air, grab a drink or a snack, and maybe answer some messages or watch some Youtube

Just let your ears take a break and you will be able to come back and hear things you didn't hear before.


9.) Too Much Reverb

Too much reverb is a huge mistake beginners make.

It's easy to cover something in reverb because you think it sounds good, but this is a great way to smear your mix

Your mix will sound washed out and like there is just too much noise in it.

I don't really know how to explain it, but too much reverb is a great way to screw up your mix and show that you are a rookie


10.) Using Different Reverbs On Everything

Different reverbs can sound cool, but too many different reverbs can make your mix sound very disconnected

It can sound like each element is in it's own space, instead of the whole song sounding like it's in the same space

Most of the time I only use 2 or 3 different reverbs at most.

It really just depends on the song, but for the most part you don't need to use a bunch of different reverbs


11.) Mixing In Solo

This is probably the most common noob mixing mistake.

Everyone's heard this before, but mixing in solo will trick you

No one will hear the elements of the song in solo, so what matters most is how the elements sound together, not individually

Solo is great for really being able to hone in on something, but always check next to the rest of your mix


12.) Analysis Paralysis

Like many things in life, we want to feel like we know everything before we jump in to avoid mistakes

But also like many things in life, you will learn more by doing than researching

It's ok to continue to expand your knowledge, but be sure to apply that knowledge before feeling like you need to keep learning more

It's easy with all the education out there on Youtube and other platforms to get overwhelmed and spend all your time learning

But at the end of the day, you just gotta start mixing to develop your ear and your style.

Just mix a song and then move on to the next one, and with platforms like Cambridge out there you have more than enough songs to practice with for free


13.) Wasting Money On Gear You Don't Need

We all like fancy plugins and gear, but these things don't make a good mixer

A good mixer is a good mixer regardless of the plugins he has

That said, there are some plugins out there that can make your life way easier or offer solutions to problems that stock plugins may not offer

An example of this would be the Metric AB plugin that provides you the ability to easily reference other tracks.

No stock plugin offers that that I am aware of, but that's not really a mixing tool as much as a referencing tool

You don't need analog gear or more plugins, you need to get good with what you have.

Honestly, I almost never buy new plugins and I use the same ones all the time

I believe it's better to focus on getting good with what you have than to buy new stuff

All that said, if you are gonna spend money on new stuff, spend it on good speakers, good headphones, an interface, a bigger monitor screen, or something that will really help you

Your money will be better spent on those things as opposed to the nicest EQ's or compressor's you can find


14.) Leaving The Analog Button On Waves Plugins

Anyone who has used waves plugins know about the analog button. All this button does is add analog noise

As far as I am concerned, this is just a troll to trip up noobs. Don't ever turn this on


15.) Over-mixing

This is one of those noob mixing mistakes we have all done at one point in time

It's possible to get a mix really good, and then start tweaking with it to a point where you are just over-mixing.

It was great before you did that that .5 boost at 5k on the kick drum.

It was great before you sent that extra 5% to the reverb bus on the vocals

Someone who is a perfectionist will get a good mix, and then screw it up because they won't quit messing with it

Learn when something is done

In my opinion, this is easier when you are working with clients, because it's not done till they say it is.

You may get it close, but there comes a point where it's time to get the client's feedback so you know if they are happy or not

Nothing is worse than spending 2 hours trying to get the perfect snare EQ curve just for you to send it to the client and they say they hate the snare sound

Just get it solid and send it to the client so they can tell you what they don't like.

And trust me, 99% of the time they will have at least one revision no matter how good the mix is


16.) Taking Too Long On A Mix

This kind of goes with the last tip, but quit spending forever on your mixes.

I understand that when you are new it might take you a week to finish a song, but learn when to identify when it's the best you can get it and mix another song

Spending forever on one song won't get you better, mixing more songs will get you better

17.) Not Understanding What Genre Your Working In

This may not be the most common thing, but it happens

For example, as much as I love metal music, country music aint metal, so the kick doesn't necessarily need a 5db boost at 5k to get that "clicky" sound like in metal

I used to have coworkers in live sound that used to do that.

We ran sound for country cover bands and they would EQ kicks like we were mixing for metal bands

I love heavy music too, but know your genre

Know when you are working with a genre that has a more organic sound and doesn't need full sample replacement

Know when you are working with slower genres instead of faster genres

You have to be adaptive as a mixer if you are going to mix more than one genre

18.) Trying To Fix Your Mixes In Mastering

Mixing is not the place to fix production, and mastering is not the place to fix mixes

I talk a lot about top-down mixing and mixing into a mastering chain, but this is a more advanced technique

If you are a rookie I recommend having nothing on your master bus, or just a compressor to glue everything together

Don't rely on your mastering chain or a mastering engineer to fix your crappy mixes

Have the mentality that you are going to make your mix sound as close to a mastered project as you can before it ever reaches the mastering process

19.) Not Panning Correctly

Everyone wants wide mixes, and sometimes the best way to achieve that is with simple panning

Instead of having a bunch of tracks that are partially panned left or right, maybe you should pan it 100% left or right

Some people only do 100% left or right or center. Others experiment

Personally, I think it depends on the song. Sometimes you are dealing a with a lot of elements and panning everything 100% left or right can cause things to fight for space

Others times it is just best to go 100% left, right, or center

However, I never think it's a good idea to have a bunch of random panning, and aside from toms most of my elements are panned 100% unless I feel like it's not appropriate

20.) Being Afraid To Make Big Moves

Many people when they start out are afraid to compress by 10db or boost 10db on an EQ because they feel like it's too much

At the end of the day, if it sounds good, it is good, and one of the biggest noob mixing mistakes is not using your ears

Some plugins even sound better when pushed harder

For example, I think the CLA 76 sounds best when compressing by around 7db.

It doesn't sound near as squashed as other compressors when they compress by 7db

Another example is the SSL Channel strip EQ. I think this EQ sounds it's best when you boost 5-10db on it

Other plugins like the LA 2A compressor sounds very squashed when you compress around 7db with it, and the channel strip EQ in Cubase is very aggressive.

If you cut out 5-10db with that EQ it will sound like you cut a chuck out of the sound.

Maybe that's the sound you are going for, but don't be afraid to experiment and see what sounds best


I hope you enjoyed this post about 20 Noob Mixing Mistakes To Avoid

BEFORE YOU GO, I wanted to mention my 'Essentials Guide To Become A BEAST At Mixing & Mastering.'

I created this free resource to help new mixers have a clear guide on what they need to do to be on the fast track to Mixing & Mastering great records.

This resource includes a step-by-step mixing guide, a guide on what you should focus on to get better, my favorite mixing tips and tricks, and my favorite resources to help you build a strong foundation for yourself on your journey

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Andrew Aurora
Andrew Aurora

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