Everything you do and don't have control over will be based on the quality of production
Whether this is your music or another artists' music, the production is going to set the stage for whatever problems (or lack there of) that you are going to face
If the artist produced their music way too hot and caused it to clip then this is going to effect your ability to make it loud and sound good
If they recorded something way too low and you have gain it it up and it causes the noise floor to get too loud, then this will effect your ability to make it sound good or make it loud
If they picked the wrong samples like a crappy kick drum that had too much low-end tail then this will effect your ability to make it loud.
Point is, production is where it starts. Always get things good at the source and you will have a much better chance of getting loud mixes like a pro
2.) Gain staging
I'm sure you have heard about the importance of gain staging so much at this point that I sound like a broken record telling you again for the 1000th time.
I really try not to regurgitate content that everyone else has said without offering my own unique spin, but gain staging is so important that there is a reason everyone on Youtube mentions it over and over
If you don't get your gain staging right so everything is hitting at the right spot volume-wise and hitting your plugins in the way that you like to have them hit, you are going to face a lot of challenges.
Because I remember how confusing gain staging was to me when I got started, I created a post that makes gain staging stupid simple so you can guarantee you get the perfect, or near perfect, gain staging every time that you can go check out HERE
If you can get your gain staging right then you will have a much easier time getting loud mixes like a pro every single time
Balance and gain staging kind of go hand-in-hand. Balance is practically the definition of mixing.
Mixing explained in simple terms is basically establishing a balance between all elements of your song in terms of volume, stereo field, frequency, and levels
Having proper balance between all the elements in your song is a necessity
If your kick or snare is too hot your compressors and limiters are going to be getting hit way too hard and preventing you from getting a loud mix.
If your vocals are too hot you will be wondering why the rest of your mix sounds too quiet and you aren't even close to hitting the levels you are aiming for on your master
You get the point, and when people are learning to mix it can be really hard to know what is too much and what is too little, because you don't even know what to listen for.
I created a video that went over a very simple exercise to help beginners learn balance in my Ultimate EDM Mixing and Mastering Guide that anyone mixing any genre can do if you want to go check that out
4.) Managing low end
Low end will devour your headroom and prevent you from being able to push a mix as loud as it can go
Low end on toms, sub drops, and loud kicks can overpower your compressors and your limiters, causing them to squash your whole mix
On top of that, low end in tracks that don't even have much low end frequency information can still rob you of headroom and muddy the low end of your mix.
For example, a high hat track may have low end energy in it that isn't serving your mix. Cut that crap out to make room for the kick and bass and to free up more headroom
I've heard everyone on Youtube say to cut low end out of tracks that aren't your kick, bass, or some other low end dominating instrument or effect.
I hate to sound like an echo, but this is a pretty good rule of thumb to cut out frequency information that isn't serving your mix.
Clippers are probably the best tool for getting your mix louder.
Basically a clipper cuts off the top of a transient and brings the body of the sound closer to the peaks without squashing the sound like a limiter.
Just to be clear, clippers aren't the same as clipping in your DAW. That usually sounds like crap.
Clipper plugins tend to model what analog gear used to sound like when you clipped it, which would have a nice saturation effect and be pleasing to the ear
Clippers are a great way to make something louder and get it more in your face without squashing the sound.
I created this free resource to help new mixers have a clear guide on what they need to focus on to be on the fast track to Mixing & Mastering great records.
When starting out with mixing, it can be really daunting trying to figure out what to focus on and where to put your energy.
I wanted to provide a clear guide AND some of my favorite resources (such as my favorite books and other mixing resources) to help you build a strong foundation to build off of on your Mixing & Mastering journey
To pick this free resource up, click the button below
I hope you enjoyed this post. I share new content weekly here on my blog on how to bring your creative vision to life so you can start creating amazing music. Please share any content ideas you would like for me to create for you!