Audio mixing can be grinding, especially if you are just starting out. It needs time, patience, and most importantly, practice. You have to master a lot of plugins, plugins and filters before you get started with your first audio mix. How well you mix sound as a professional depends on how much you understand the frequency spectrum and use planning to come up with a stereo image. At the same time, you need to avoid these audio mixing mistakes while you learn and practice audio editing skills.
8 Common Audio Mixing Mistakes to Avoid:
1. Compressing Too Much
This is the most common of all audio mixing mistakes. Not everything needs compression. Surely, compression can bring tonal balance, clarity and focus into a mix. Over compressing can also completely destroy the performance, make the track depthless and ruin its character. Over compressing a mix can ruin it in such a way that the dynamic range and the details in the track cannot be fixed. Audible distortion can also occur if you overuse the compression technique.
Pro tip: Applying compression lightly is definitely desirable in a good mix. It can be used to catch peaking transients and level out any major level deviations. But beware of not over doing it, ever! You can also use a low ratio like 2:1 or 3:1 and try to keep in the range of 3-6 db. You can try parallel compression as it allows you to compress but still keeps some dynamics in your mix.
2. Creating Wrong Ambience
Ambience determines how the sound fills out as well as the emotional connect of your mix. Ambience can be recorded through room captures or synthetic reverbs. The reason why having customizable reverb is so important because it enables you to find which one perfectly complements your source sound.
Pro tip: You should spend a lot of time finding individual sounds in a space. Find the perfect balance in your mix which supports the tone, rhythm and coherence of your mix. Sometimes a mix doesn’t sound right because the components inside do not go along with each other. The ambience of the mix can also be fixed by using the right presets and applying the correct effects.
3. Not Taking Automation Seriously
Automation means having a DAW (Logic Pro X, Pro Tools etc.) moving knobs, faders, and switches in your mix automatically. You can automate almost anything in your mix. With the help of an audio editing software, you can automate an effect bypass, individual plug-in parameters, a VC or a master fader. There are four automation modes: read, touch, latch and write. It will save your time and enable you to work even more creatively in different directions.
Pro tip: You can avoid this audio editing mistake by using automation when you want to adjust a parameter or plug-in in your mix. If you want this adjustment to happen every time you play over a particular section of your mix, you should use auto editing software from the early stage of your profession.
4. Using Too Many Effects
You should never load your track with a lot of effects. Be it EQ or compression, amateurs tend to fill their tracks with these, making the mix quite complex. Experienced mixers know how to stay true to their mix. You can go all in with your creativity, but make sure your originality remains intact.
Pro tip: Use effects to create an aural space and add excitement Try using the minimum amount of effects on your track. Stay true to your original production and see the magic of reducing the degree of effect. Don’t add any extra plug-ins on the master bus that is not necessary. And, avoid using presets that change the vibe of your entire track.
5. Mixing Too Loud
Ears tend to become tired quickly when you listen to sounds that are too loud. At such high levels, the output device will also make your mix sound saturated and harsh. Everything sounds better when its smooth and mellow, isn’t it? It lets you unwind through the whole process of making your mix and also sounds better when you turn up the volume after it has been produced.
Pro tip: Try your hand on mixing at low and moderate volumes. You will enjoy the process and will be able to mix without getting tired. You will learn to create an audio mix with clarity and coherence. Extremely loud bass eats up headroom and makes it harder to get a good mix. The best thing you can do is to ensure that you have an acoustically neutral mixing surroundings. You can achieve this through the use of acoustic products such as diffusers, absorbers and bass traps. If you don’t want to invest in that much, you can always place blankets around.
6. Mixing with Unnecessary Plugins
Every mixing decision should be thoughtfully taken. But you end up applying plug-ins anywhere and everywhere you can. Using what worked in the last mix or what is working for the top performing mixes might not work for your own mix. Do not make this audio mixing mistake.
Pro tip: It is important to be reactive during the whole process of mixing. Before adding a new plug-in like gain, EQ, compression, reverb and delay, you need to ask yourself whether you need that particular plugin or not. If you don’t find a relevant reason of using that particular plug-in in your mix, it is better to avoid it completely.
7. Not Investing in a Good Headphone & Speaker
If you can’t even listen to what elements you are mixing, what’s the point of making it? Investing in a good headphone or speaker is the first thing you should do after you’ve decided to create your audio mix. Many people test their music in their cars which is not at all advisable. You can never figure out the right tones of your mix when you are listening to it on a poor-quality headphone or speaker.
Pro tip: Spend some time listening to familiar music on different speakers. Do not invest in ordinary devices. It will lead to compromising audio quality down the line. Always trust your ears and the quality you would appreciate. But do test your music on different devices because it might sound quite good on headphones, but not that great on speakers. Always remember that the goal of mixing is to get a result that sounds amazing on every device.
8. Ignoring Analyzers
There are a lot of factors that determine the quality of your mix from the point of producing it in your device, to the time it hits your ears. Quality of your cables, the amps powering your speakers and EQ switches can determine the quality of your mix. This implies that what you hear might not be what you have actually produced.
Pro tip: The best way to fix this audio mixing mistake is to put an audio analysis plug-in across your master buss to get the insert effect. This will not change the sound but will help in getting the visual or spectral feedback of the production quality, so you can control the audio that reaches the speakers. It will help you detect if the position for your speakers is correctly placed or if its artificially enhancing the bass. You can also identify any phasing issues if there are any.
One thing that you should definitely not do- moving without a direction. You should definitely have an intention about your mix. Ask yourself why are you working on an audio mix. We are sure you will get an answer. But if you don’t, start making your mix and contemplating the intention behind making it.
You can totally avoid these audio mixing mistakes with the help of our tips. And now that you know them, hope you mix them well the next time. Cheers!