Back again with another tutorial. Today I’ll be sharing 35 beginner mistakes you need to avoid when mixing music, these are the mistakes which were preventing me from getting professional sounding mixes.
Avoiding these mistakes will help you get those radio ready mixes that you’re dreaming about.
It’s not an easy task to learn the art of mixing for beginners but if you can avoid these common mixing mistakes then you should be on your way to getting Pro quality mixes.
I’m also going to give you some tips for mixing music either for clients or when mixing your own music.
The one thing that helped me learn to mix was by watching other professionals work, especially when they were working on my music. That’s what skyrocketed my skills.
One of the biggest mistakes that I was making was not getting the right sounds straight from the source.
Which leads us to mistake number 1.
1. I’ll Fix it in the Mix Mentality
Don’t rely on the mixing stage to fix the sound of your instruments or vocals. Always get the right sound straight from the source (recording or vst instruments).
When I was a beginner, every time I gave a professional engineer to mix my music they would change the kick and bass. All the time they would tell me to spend a lot of time getting the right sound for the kick and bass.
So once I started getting the right kick and bass sound I was able to mix my music without the help of someone else. You need to spend a lot of time learning different microphone techniques or improving your sound design skills.
If you put garbage in then you’ll get garbage out, it’s as simple as that. So don’t use the “I’ll fix it in the mix mentality”, always get the right sound during recording or sound design.
2. Wrong File Format
Once you have great sounding tracks that are ready for mixing then make sure that you export your files using the correct format. Don’t use MP3 files, they’re low quality and MP3 is for the consumer not for engineering.
Always use AIFF or Wav file format. I know this might sound obvious to some people but I still get questions like; “what file format should I send you…” when I’m working with clients.
Sample rate is also important, if your machine can handle 192kHz sample rate then use it don’t sacrifice the quality. Plugins also act differently in different sample rates and they’ll give you the best quality on high sample rates.
It’s even hard to tell the difference from analog and digital at higher sample rates. Take a blind test one day and let me know in the comments if you can hear the difference.
Invest a lot of money on upgrading your machine so that it can handle higher sample rates, you’ll Thank me later.
3. Disable Dither When Bouncing
This is the process of adding noise to a signal, this is used to randomize quantization error. It is used to preserve information that would be lost otherwise.
Some people say they can’t hear dithering, in your final master go to the break down of your song (a good example would be a song that becomes quiet or with very minimal instrumentation) export both 2 audio tracks, one with dither and one without dither.
That way you’ll be able to hear dithering. Or use those EDM songs which have “the drop” where no sound is playing. You’ll be able to hear how dithering fills up that quiet part with noise, it will sound unnatural without dither and natural with dither.
Now, the reason I say leave the dither off is because, if you happen to dither twice, it will always cause extra digital distortion regardless of any changes in bit-depth.
Dither should be used in the last stages of mastering audio for CD and other formats. Always make sure that it is not enabled when exporting or bouncing audio for mixing.
4. Skipping Editing and Comping
A lot of people tend to rush to the mixing stage and skip the editing and comping part. You have to take a minute going through your recorded sounds to choose the best takes and comp them together into one file.
For instance, if you have 3 takes for the lead vocal, guitar etc then go through all the takes and choose the best parts which will make one great performance.
The next thing you need to do is to remove all silent parts on your audio tracks then create crossfades to avoid clicks. The silent parts where there’s no audio playing could have a pops, noise or clicks that you won’t notice till it’s too late.
I know people who’ve pulled a song out of the stores because it had clicks on certain parts of the arrangement.
Never take shortcuts, put in the work so that when you start mixing you can focus fully on getting the song ready for mastering without worrying about production stuff.
If you’re using loops or samples that you simply copy and paste throughout the arrangement of your song then make sure that you add crossfades before exporting/bouncing those audio tracks otherwise they’ll create clicks.
5. Skipping Tuning & Timing
When you’re working with live instruments some things might be out of tune and timing might be sloppy in some parts of the song. You need to spend some time fixing timing and tuning issues.
What you don’t want to do is to have the vocals or instrumentation perfectly tuned or have the timing sounding robotic (too perfect on every hit). You want to keep things sounding as natural as possible.
But if something is obvious off-key (out of tune) or the timing is too sloppy then you might want to fix that.
Even if you’re working on electronic music don’t quantize everything 100% to the grid, your music will sound robotic. Keep some of things sloppy intentionally to add an organic feel to your music.
Sometimes you might record a guitar then realize later that the guitar was out of tune, pull up melodyne or cubase variaudio to fix tuning issues or else you’ll spend the whole day adding eq, compression and other processing tools and still not get the sound you’re looking for.
Always spend a minute checking tuning and timing issues.
6. Not checking Phase Relationships
You must check phase relationships for the instruments that are in your mixes. Especially if multiple microphones were used to capture the sounds.
If you have phase cancellation issues then frequencies disappear and they will be unbalanced. To check phase for each instrument you can use phase correlation plugins. These help determine if you have phasing issues.
Another issue is that if you have phase issues your sounds will disappear when your music is played in mono.
To avoid guess work then use phase correlation plugins together with phase align plugins because doing all this stuff manually can be tedious and you might miss it. However, a well trained ear detects this stuff easily.
After fixing phase your sounds should sound thicker and fuller. Even layering different VSTs or samples does cause phase cancellation issues. So make sure that your samples are well aligned and inphase.
Once you’re done with editing, comping, tuning and checking phase correlation then you might want to take a short break because this stuff does drain some energy but it’s really worth it.
7. Not Setting the Host BPM/Tempo
I don’t see most people talk about this and it’s very important because if you don’t set the correct BPM or tempo for the song it will cause incorrect timing differences.
You have to remember that you’ll be using time-based processors such as reverb and delay so if the tempo of the song is incorrect then you’ll end up with timing issues. So none of these effects will be in sync with the rest of your track.
This one is pretty straightforward, just make sure that you set the correct tempo/bpm before importing the project.
If you don’t have this information then you can manually find the tempo by using the click track on your DAW to find the correct tempo of the song, this shouldn’t even take 30 seconds.
8. Skipping Mix Preparation
The stuff mentioned above is not really related to mixing, it’s stuff that should be taken care of by the producer. But I have to mention those things just in case you’re mixing something for a client and they skipped all that stuff.
Now let’s get into stuff that is related to mixing music.
Mix preparation will help you stay organized and navigate your mix really fast. So if you want to work on a specific sound you don’t have to mute everything to start searching for one particular sound.
You have to move and navigate your mix fast to avoid things such as ear fatigue.
You have to name all your tracks. If you’re using an analog mixing console then use tape and a marker to name all your channels.
The next step is to organize your tracks. Have all your drums in one section, vocals on one section and do the same for guitars, keyboards, synths etc.
That way if you’re looking for a snare you know it’s in the drums section next to the kick drums so you find it much easier and faster so that you can move on to work on other sounds as well.
This is how I arrange my session all the time.
Drums > Percussion > FX > Bass > Vocals > Guitars > Keyboards (pianos, synths, pads, arps)
That’s how I arrange my sessions. I use the same session arrangement all the time as a routine so that I can move and navigate my mixes fast without even thinking about it.
Next up you need to color code your sounds in groups. For me, drums are red, percussion are orange, bass is yellow, vocals are blue, guitars are green etc. So I know that if I see blue I’m in the vocals section, if I see red then these are the drums.
If you’re using an analog desk then you can use different color markers/sharpies for different sounds.
Don’t skip preparation, it’s very crucial.
9. Ignoring Gain Staging
After getting your mix preparation done, the next thing you should do is to work on your gain staging to make sure that you avoid clipping and overloading your master channel.
If you’re mixing in the box (using a DAW) then it’s important to maintain good levels when mixing music.
You have to understand that the metering on your DAW is great at showing peak levels to avoid clipping. But bad at showing average level, which is how our brains perceive loudness. That’s where VU meters come in handy.
A VU Meter is great for gain staging, getting good headroom and clear mixes.
The average reaction time of the human ear to new sounds is 300ms which is the reaction time of the VU meter needle, so with a VU meter you can gauge how the average person will hear the music.
You can find a lot of tutorials about how to use VU Meters for gain staging online. Just make sure that you keep healthy levels for your mixes, a VU Meter forces you to mix softer that is why I use it.
10. Manual Gain Riding
To make sure that my compressors don’t overwork I always do some manual gain riding using the clip-gain/pre-fader on obviously loud parts of each audio track.
Waves Audio has some great plugins for this which are Vocal Rider and Bass Rider.
These 2 plugins just make the job 10x easier. This helps me get a clean compression sound that doesn’t distort and makes it a bit easier to get good levels when balancing each sound in the mix.
So do some manual gain riding for parts that are obviously too loud or tracks that have a crazy difference in dynamic range before processing your sounds.
11. Mixing at Very Loud Volumes
Keep a healthy level when mixing because you’ll end up getting ear fatigue then make terrible mixing decisions. That’s the most important reason you don’t want to be mixing at very loud volumes.
You don’t have to monitor on high or loud volumes.
Another reason is that when you’re monitoring loud you tend to think things are punchy and loud till you lower down the volume only to find that you lose all the punchiness and PHAT sound that you were hearing.
While the opposite happens when you’re mixing at moderate levels, when you get things PHAT and you turn up the volume they sound really impressive at loud levels.
So you’ll get fooled into thinking that things sound better when listening at loud volumes, avoid that.
12. Using Too Much Processing
Using too much processing on your mixes is another big pitfall. You might see Dave Pensado using 6 different plugins on his vocal chain and then think that's what you also need to do then you end up messing a good vocal performance.
It’s not about how many plugins you can use on each sound in a mix. It’s all about what does the track need to fit well with other sounds that are in the mix.
Sometimes doing nothing to a track is the best thing you can do. At other times you might only need to add a compressor and WALLAH the sound fits perfectly.
You might also find that clicking the phase invert button brings up the punch you want from a kick or snare drum.
So when you see Dave Pensado or your favorite Youtube teacher using 6 plugins to process one sound, realize that they already have a vision or goal that they want to achieve even before they add the plugins.
Which leads us to mixing mistake number 13.
13. No Clear Picture of The End Results
The biggest mistake beginner mixing engineers make is to process a signal without the end goal in mind.
They just put in a series of plugins hoping that the end results will somehow sound good or help the signal fit well with other sounds in the mix.
This is why I don’t listen to mixes sent to me by someone who says; “please listen to my mix and let me know how it sounds and how I can improve it…”
I don’t respond to those type of massages because clearly you didn’t have an end goal when you were mixing the song.
But I respond to messages that go a little something like this; “I’ve tried everything but I can't get the guitars to fit in the mix and the kick is not punchy, can you help?”
Then I know that your end goal is getting a punchy kick and getting the guitar to fit well in the mix. So that way I can help you reach your desired goal. But I can’t help you if you don’t have a goal. That’s like driving without directions.
Always have a goal in mind before processing any sound.
Play the song from start to finish, take notes of the things you would like to achieve then during the mix you simply implement all your notes and your mixing process will be much easier like that.
14 Relying on Presets
Another biggest mistake is relying on presets. I’m not against presets, just don’t use them as is.
You can use presets as a starting point or a guide then tweak them to work well for the particular project that you’re working on. The preset was created to work on a song that is different from what you’re working on.
You didn’t record in the same space, you didn’t use the same microphones, pre-amps, mic technique, gear and many other factors. That’s why using presets is never a good idea and the goal of the preset is not always the same as your end goal.
Unless if you know that the preset you’re choosing will help you reach your desired goal, but always tweak it to make it fit with the entire mix.
15. Using The Solo Button too Much
This is one of the biggest pitfalls for beginners.
I always tell my students to never even touch the solo button and one of them said it’s impossible. I told her to try it for a while and now she’s mixing without touching the solo button.
If you can’t hear the difference then increase the volume of the sound that you’re working on so that you can hear the difference and after you’re happy with the processing then you can bring it back down again.
Understand that no one buys a song because the snare sounds great. So stop focusing on how a particular instrument or vocal sounds on its own (in solo) and focus on how it sounds in the entire mix, focus on context.
I know it can be hard at first but you’ll have to get used to it and that’s how you’ll get better at mixing because you’ll learn to focus on context and each time you process a sound you’ll want to focus on how it’s improving the entire mix.
16. Adding Reverb to Everything in a Mix
When you listen to amateur mixes the first thing that always messes up the mix is too much reverb. You can hear sounds drowning inside a very long reverb and immediately you know that they used a preset.
Adding reverb to each and every sound in a mix will mess up the depth of the mix and you won’t have contrast.
Other sounds need to be at the back of the mix while others need to be upfront, that’s how you get contrast. But if everything is being pushed back at the back of the mix by the reverb then you can’t have contrast.
Think of how an orchestra is arranged, there’s 1st chair who has the highest rank, 2nd chair is probably the better player than the rest and so forth. So in mixing, there are sounds that you have upfront and sounds that you want at the back of the mix.
So by using reverb you’re able to push sounds further at the back while the other sounds stay dry and upfront.
That’s why in most cases we recommend using pre-delay when adding reverb to sounds that you want to be upfront such as drums and vocals. Using pre-delay will allow the transients to come in without being affected, keeping the sound punchy and upfront.
Here’s one of my videos that will help you avoid making common reverb mistakes.
Reverb Mistakes to Avoid When Mixing Music
17. Not Processing Your Effect Sends
Another big mistake is leaving the effects that you use on your send or aux channels unaffected. That’s not good because you need to process your effects to make them fit well in a mix.
This will depend mostly on the feel of the song, you might want to create a high shelf filter cut to make your reverb dark if you’re working on a moody song to emphasize the emotion.
At other times you might want to brighten up the reverb with a high shelf boost to make a certain sound brighter if it’s too dull.
Reverbs also tend to add a lot of muddy and harsh frequencies so you might want to use an EQ to remove those frequencies, especially in the low-end and low midrange.
When it comes to delay, you don't want the delay signal to sound the same as the original signal and occupy the same frequencies as the original signal. You need to have a noticeable difference that’s why filters are important.
Delay also sound dry, so you need to add a little bit of reverb on it to give it a sense of space and dimension. That's why some manufactures have a reverb built-in a delay effect to make things easier for you.
Some reverbs also sound too clean and digital so adding a bit of distortion will add warmth and character to it. In other cases you want to add compression to keep the affected signal in control so that it doesn’t overpower the original signal.
The main point is that it’s really crucial to process your send channels to make sure that they fit well in the mix.
18. Not Gain Matching Your EQ
A very important thing that you need to do is to make sure that you level match your EQ. After creating tons of boosts on a signal you can be easily fooled into thinking that you’ve improved it only to find that you only added gain to the signal.
That is why it’s very crucial to level match your EQ so that you can have a fair comparison of the before and after. Some plugins have this feature built-in so use it all the time to make sure that you don’t just increase volume.
If you’re using a plugin that doesn’t have this feature then decrease or increase the output volume to level match your EQ.
This will help you know if you’re making the entire mix to sound better or not.
19. Equalizing Everything
If all of the sounds that are in your mix need to be equalized then you’re better off going back to the recording or sound design stage to fix the problems. You don’t need to equalize each and everything in a mix.
This will result in a thin sounding mix and your entire tonal balance will be messed up.
That’s why you don’t need to remove all the muddy frequencies in a mix, you do need some to keep a good tonal balance throughout the entire frequency spectrum.
You don’t want to create unnecessary holes in your tonal balance.
20. You’re A High-Pass Filter Freak
It’s surprising that this is still recommended in all youtube tutorials that I see. They tell you to cut out the low-end because you don’t need it.
This is false!
You do need that low-end. That’s why when you watch Grammy Award winning engineers mix a song, you don’t see them applying high-pass filter on everything because they know it will result in a thin sounding mix that has phase issues.
Too many low cuts will create a lot of phase shift in a mix and as mentioned above, you don’t want phase problems.
So don’t do things by default. You can use high-pass filter if the sound is obviously clashing with your kick and bass or if you have too much low-end rumble, that way it makes sense to create a low-cut.
Also take it easy on the low-cuts, you don’t need a high-pass filter that reaches 200Hz unless it’s a hi-hat, tambourine, shaker or cymbals.
Use high-pass filters but always have a valid reason why you’re doing it, not because you think you don’t need it that’s a lame reason.
35 beginner mistakes you need to avoid when mixing music. Learn how to get radio ready mixes
21. Compressing Everything
One thing you don’t want to do in a mix is to compress every sound. If you do this, your mix will end up distorting and you’ll ruin the dynamics. In some cases manual gain riding will be the best option as opposed to using a compressor.
An overcompressed song doesn’t sound good and natural, it sounds too perfect and we’re human beings so when something sounds too perfect it becomes weird. You don’t want to kill the life out of your sounds.
If you’re working with samples then avoid compression as much as possible because the samples you’re using are usually compressed a million times before they get to you.
If you’re programming your sounds using only a mouse then rely on sound design to get the sound that you want and avoid compressors. Use your envelopes (ADSR) to increase attack or decay wherever necessary.
In other sections of the arrangement, automation will be the best option to get a great balance for your tracks. You don’t want your mixes to be over-compressed that they become irritating and fatiguing to listen to after only one or two minutes.
There's a big difference between pumped-up, exciting dynamics and just plain annoying noise and distortion.
22. Applying Compression All At Once
Another mixing mistake that you need to avoid is applying compression on an individual sound all at once. Even when you hire a professional to paint your house. The best painters apply several coats.
So that is why it’s crucial to compress in stages instead of doing it all at once. One thing you don’t want to do is to overwork a compressor, it will distort and the final results won’t be desirable.
Instead of applying 8dBs of gain reduction on a snare drum, what you do is to add 3dB on the actual snare track, 2dB on the drum group channel and another 2dB on the mix buss.
That’s how you compress in stages instead of doing it all at once, this way you’ll get a much cleaner sound that won’t distort and that’s how you also avoid applying compression on all your individual sounds.
23. You’re a Sucker for Multiband Compression
You’d be surprised by the number of emails I get from people asking me; “can you please show me how to use multiband compression on vocals.”
I don’t respond to these types of messages because they make it seem as if multiband is a silver bullet that will magically make vocals sit perfectly in a mix.
In most cases you will get much better results if you use a single-band compressor. A multiband compressor is used if you have a problem in a specific frequency range but when using a static EQ it makes the vocals dull in some parts of the song.
In that case you use a multiband to fix the problem only when it occurs instead of using a static EQ. You can also achieve similar results by using a dynamic EQ.
So only use multiband compression if you want to fix a problem at a certain frequency range to leave other frequencies unaffected.
24. Too Much Obvious/Pumping Compression
One other thing you need to avoid when adding compression on your tracks is to avoid making it sound too obvious. You don’t want to add too much compression to a sound and end up with an undesirable pumping effect.
You want your compression to be smooth without messing up the original signal and change its timbre or character. You have to keep your instruments and vocals sounding natural without killing the life out of them.
This usually happens if you have the wrong release setting, especially if your release is too fast then the compressor will stop affecting the signal before it fades out then the tail of the signal jumps up in volume.
It’s not a desirable effect so make sure that your attack and release settings are on point.
25. Not Testing Mono Compatibility
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that your mix doesn’t need to be mono compatible. That’s a myth.
I say it’s a myth because even clubs play music in mono since they have a lot of speakers spread out through the entire club. So it makes sense to have the system playing in mono so that everyone can hear the same things no matter where they are in the club.
The best selling speakers at the moment which are bluetooth or smart speakers usually have one speaker which is mono. People also listen to music using their smartphones which also plays music in mono.
Some eabuds and headphones produce a mono signal and they are not stereo.
So it’s very important to check whether your song is mono compatible or not. Keep switching between mono and stereo during mixing to make sure that no sounds disappear when playing your song in mono.
26. Not Using Groups & Busses
Once you’re happy with the balance of individual tracks in your mix, the next best move is to group them either in frequencies or in groups of instruments that fit together like a group of guitars, vocals, strings etc.
If your vocals were recorded with the same microphone, pre-amps, one vocalist, and everything is the same then processing them one at a time makes no sense.
Group them in one channel and give them the same processing.
Maybe you might want to do something different on the backing vocals, it's totally understandable to mix them separately but also group all your backing vocals to process them together.
This can also be applied to guitars, strings, synths etc. This way you’ll be able to mix faster and if your sounds are too loud you control them with one fader instead of going to each sound to adjust them one at a time.
You also get to compress them together which will add glue and make them sound as one and not separate.
Grouping them in frequencies is also beneficial. Having 4 different groups for lows, low mids, high mids and highs. This way if your high frequencies are too loud you can fix that with one fader.
Always make sure that you have a good balance of the individual tracks before grouping.
27. Producing Mixes that are too Narrow
This is a mistake I made for a very long time, I kept everything in the center which resulted in a narrow mix. Don’t make this mistake, you need to get your mixes sounding wide and open. The stereo field is big so use it to its fullest.
It all starts with panning. This will create space and open up your mix. Panning will also eliminate any clashing between instruments.
Another panning mistake that you need to avoid is to have 2 instruments fighting for the same space in the stereo field. Let’s say you’ve panned your guitars left and right at 22%, don’t pan any other sound in the same 22% instead put that other sound at 26% or 18%.
Don’t have 2 sounds sharing the same pan amount (for the lack of word) in the same speaker. But you can have a guitar panned 18% right and a piano part panned left 18%.
Next you can use stereo image tools and techniques to make your sounds wide.
The goal is to have your stereo image to have a “V” shape. The low-end dead center, low mids a bit open, high mids more open than the low mids and finally the high frequencies wide and open.
Don’t forget to check your mix in mono to make sure that you’re not overdoing it.
28. Using Colored Speakers and Headphones
It is of most importance for you to use dedicated studio monitors and professional studio monitor headphones when mixing music. The main reason is because these are not colored so they sound natural and have a flat frequency response.
OK, they’re not 100% flat we all know that.
However, consumer speakers and headphones have a colored sound. This means that they have exaggerated frequencies to impress the consumer. They usually have exaggerated bass and high frequencies.
That’s why they’re not recommended for audio engineering purposes.
You’ll think that you have enough bass because your exaggerated headphones were producing a lot of bass then when you test your mix in other devices you realize you don’t have enough bass or it’s just too much.
With professional monitors you get a more accurate sound which helps you create mixes that will translate well in many different audio output devices.
So it’s really important to invest in a pair of studio monitors or studio monitor headphones.
29. Not Monitoring on Different Speakers
If you want your song to translate well in all sound devices then you have to test your mix in as many speakers and audio output devices as possible.
Test in a car, home theater system, earbuds, bluetooth/smart speakers, cheap headphones, desktop speakers, smartphones etc.
Once you start testing in different speakers you take notes and make changes till you’re satisfied with the end results. Test, test and test even more.
If you can then you must also test in environments you’re not familiar with, like a friend’s house, car etc. to test if your mix is finished or if there’s still more stuff to change.
Don’t rush your mixes, unless if you’re working with a client who’s in a rush.
30. Not Taking Breaks
Just like any body part, your ears do get tired so it’s crucial to take regular breaks. Have lunch without listening to music, take a long walk, go grocery shopping without listening to music in the car.
I’m not talking about watching TV, that way you’re not giving your ears a good rest. Don’t sit in the studio, go outside and hear some birds that will bring inspiration and more ideas for the mix.
If you’re working with a client, have a small chat, get to know them better. Once your ears are refreshed then you can go back in the studio.
Ears are usually fresh in the morning, so sometimes just stop mixing till in the morning and you’ll be able to hear a lot of mistakes. If you can’t wait till the morning then take regular short breaks maybe every 30 minutes.
Don’t time yourself, you should be able to hear if you’re starting to get ear fatigue.
31. You Need to Keep Saving
You need to keep hitting Ctrl+S on windows or Command+C on Mac after each processor or any move you make.
Maybe you forgot to pay the electric bill that day and the power just shuts down. So you have to keep saving your project. The DAW can choose to crash for whatever reason.
Even if you decide to pull up a plugin that you haven’t used in ages and forgot to update it, that plugin can crash your system. Plugins also get corrupt that’s why there’s regular updates for all this stuff.
There’s nothing more frustrating than losing all your work, and you don’t need that when you’re mixing because frustration will have you making stupid decisions.
A very simple thing, yet very crucial.
32. Processing the 2Buss at a Later Stage
One mistake I see a lot of people do is to mix a song then add mix buss (or 2Buss) processing later once they’ve finished mixing a song. That’s no longer mix buss processing, that’s mastering.
You would be better off by going back to the mix to fix any problems that you hear instead of doing it on the mix buss.
If you want to do mix buss processing the right way then this should be the first thing you do before touching your individual tracks. That means you have to mix into the mix buss processing.
This is also called mixing backwards, where you start by processing the mix buss channel, then work on the group channels and finally work on your individual sounds.
That’s the right way to do mix buss or 2buss processing.
33. Not Dealing With Transients Properly
Too much loud transients in a mix will destroy the track’s potential to become competitively loud when it gets mastered. You don’t want every sound in a mix to be punchy so you have to tame out some loud peaks and transients.
If your kick-in is punchy and have loud transients then you kick-out has to do the opposite by taming out the transient and increasing the decay. Not all the drum sounds in a mix need to have loud transients.
This also applies if you have multiple guitars as well. Just make sure that you have a good balance of sounds that have loud transients and sounds that don’t have loud transients as well.
You don’t only have to use compression to tame out transients. Limiters and Saturation can also reduce transients and make a sound louder with a lower peak level.
34. Skipping the Software or Plugin Manual
We’ve all seen a question pop up in the comments section of a tutorial where someone asks; “I don’t have that plugin so I can’t do it, can you show me how to do it on fl studio?”
If you don’t know how then you need to spend some time learning your software and your plugins. I mean an EQ is an EQ, whether it’s a UAD, Waves or stock EQ it’s still a freaken EQ.
That’s why it’s crucial to take a moment, forget about recording, production, mixing or mastering and focus on learning your tools in and out.
People end up using the wrong tools when mixing then wonder why their mixes can’t compete. You used a plugin that is created for bass instruments on a vocal then wonder why your vocals can’t fit well in a mix.
But if you did open the manual you would have found out that the plugin was designed for a different purpose. By reading the manual you know your tools’ strengths and weaknesses, it will also make your workflow 10x faster.
So spend some time learning your weapons.
35. Not Using Reference Songs
Reference songs are really important for beginner mixing engineers to have a guide, direction and a clear vision of the end results.
Think about it as an art painter, if you just go look at the London bridge then go home and try to remember all the details that will be tough. But if you take a picture of the bridge and keep looking at it while you're painting you'll get a great looking painting.
This also applies to mixing, you should keep going back and forth between the reference songs and the project you're currently working on.
So make sure that you use reference songs to ensure that you get the best results possible.
PHEW! That’s it ladies and gents. Those are the biggest mistakes beginners make when mixing music. You need to avoid these if you want to achieve radio ready mixes that will compete on a commercial level.
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That’s it for today, take good care and more posts are coming soon so keep your eyes glued to the blog.