In fulfilling my 7 tracks new years resolution I’ve learned a lot about mixing music. Here I share what I believe to be the five most important lessons of the year.
1. The Importance of Bass and Kick Side-chain
I learned side-chaining basics years ago for a house track but never put real effort into it before taking mixing seriously. I like low ends with character so I often spend a lot of time trying to clean up kick and bass clashes without making side-chain effects obvious or distracting. Beats with hard-hitting kicks and rumbling bass playing at once baffle me.
2. I have Sources for Feedback
It’s hard to find constructive feedback for my music. But I’ve found a few dependable sources, thanks to music courses and the Linux Musicians community. It’s great knowing that after I finish a track I’m only a few shares away from honest feedback.
3. Mixing Bass and Kick isn’t Enough
A few trusted listeners have recommended techniques for making bass more audible on smaller speakers since my DanceLight1 release. They shared saturation techniques and plugins to consider using – notably Waves MaxxBass. As I start working on more complex projects I’m going to front-load tracks with sub-bass rendered as OGG files.
Speaking of feedback…
4. My Vehicle is my Best Tester
I use laptop speakers, X-Mini Speakers, studio monitors, trusty over-the-ear headphones, and cheap in-ear headphones to mix my music. That’s five systems total, yet my vehicle always gives the best overall representation of my mix – from the sub bass to the crackling hi-hats. I thought that would change after learning each system’s unique sound and enough cross-referencing between other tracks but no (at least up to now).
5. Mixing in Mono
The Pro Audio Files always has great tips to enhance my music production skills. But the first life-changing tip I learned from the site was to occasionally check mixes in mono. Now, during every mix session I’ll listen with one speaker off or the master stereo separation set to 0. It’s cheaper and easier than, though no real replacement for, poor-man soundproofing – drink holders.
Look at the walls. The video audio is NSFW.