2012 has been full of learning experiences for me, both personally and professionally.
Usually when someone uses the phrase “learning experience,” they actually mean “painful experience.”
It’s so true, right?
Any time I learn a powerful lesson, there’s almost always some sort of discomfort that comes along with it.
Take mixing, for example. I love to mix, but there are days where I would rather swim with hungry alligators than work on a mix.
Sometimes mixing comes easy. Sometimes it’s painful. But if you can persevere, there’s always something to learn, something that will make your future mixes better.
Here are some of the things I learned.
Give Your Mix a “Time Out”
No matter how awesome you think your mix is, resist the urge to share it with the world until you’ve given it a time out.
Time-outs work like gangbusters in the Gilder house. Our two-year-old Owen can completely lose it some days. Sticking him in a “time-out” in the corner for two minutes usually does the trick.
When it comes to mixing, one of the best things you can do for your mix is to simply step away. After a couple hours of mixing, your ears have accustomed themselves to what they’re hearing. If your mix has some blatantly huge issues, you might not even notice them.
THAT’S why you need to give your mix a time-out. It’s misbehaving, and you don’t even know it, because you’re too close to the situation.
Come back to it the next day, or maybe take a lunch break. When you come back with fresh ears, you’ll instantly hear those two or three issues in the mix that need to be addressed.
Now you can address them before you send the mix off to be heard by others.
Trust me on this one. Your ears are tricky little creatures. Make ‘em be honest with you before you do your final bounce.
Level vs EQ
This one’s so easy I regularly forget about it.
If you’re fighting with a particular track in a mix, and you just can’t seem to make it sound right, what’s your first instinct?
I can tell you what mine is. I instantly reach for an EQ knob and start twisting. If it’s too harsh or too boomy, then I obviously need to cut some frequencies in the low mids or upper mids, right?
But what I’ve found is that when I find myself using very aggressive EQ, chances are there’s another more obvious problem at hand.
The track is simply at the wrong volume.
Almost every time I find myself really wrestling with a particular track, using crazy EQ cuts, sooner or later I realize that the track is simply too loud or too quiet.
I’ll remove all the EQ crazyness and move the fader up or down a few dB.
The result? It sounds instantly better.
Don’t forget how powerful a simple fader move can be.