Let’s debunk some mixing myths today, David Letterman style. Here are 10 common myths about mixing:
#10 – “I need big 8-inch monitors and a subwoofer to adequately mix the low end.”
Yes, bigger loudspeakers produce more low frequencies, but that doesn’t mean you NEED them. I’ve never owned anything bigger than a 6-inch speaker, and I know lots of engineers who mix all day long on 5 and 6-inch monitors.
#9 – “I need to compress every track in the session by default.”
You can substitute the word “compress” with anything. Doing certain things “by default” is lazy. There are tracks I almost always compress, but I … get this … LISTEN to them before slapping on a compressor.
Make sure it actually NEEDS what you’re about to do to it.
#8 – “I don’t need anyone to critique my mixes.”
What about the client, silly? If your mix makes YOU happy but makes the client (or artist) SAD, then something needs to change.
Ask for critiques. They’re like Brussels Sprouts — kinda gross and sometimes make you want to hurl, but they’re good for you.
#7 – “It’s impossible to get good mixes in a home studio.”
Home studios certainly have their challenges, but you can absolutely get great mixes from a home studio.
#6 – “Good mixes require hours and hours of time.”
When you’re first starting out, this might be true. But the more experience you gain, the faster you should be.
It’s completely reasonable to expect to be able finish a mix in just a couple of hours.
#5 – “Mixing in mono is old-school and doesn’t apply anymore.”
Listening to your mix in mono is one of the BEST ways to reveal issues in your mix. What may sound like a nice, solid mix might sound muddy when you flip it to mono.
The solution? Leave it in mono and deal with the muddnyess.
I believe one of the main reasons people can’t get their mixes to translate to other systems is that they don’t spend enough time mixing in mono.
#4 – “If I just had ______________, my mixes would be better.”
What’s in that blank for you? A new interface? Plugin bundle? New studio monitors?
I hate to break it to you, but talent trumps gear every time.
#3 – “Deadlines inhibit creativity.”
This one you’ll simply have to try. Have you ever used a timer while you worked on a mix? You may think it keeps you from being able to work effectively.
The truth is it makes you focus on what’s actually important for that mix.
Set a timer and just see how much you can get done in even one hour.
#2 – “I can learn everything on my own.”
I’ve got so many little techniques that I use when I mix a song…hundreds. Did I figure out some of them on my own? Sure.
But most of them came from simply talking to other engineers or watching them work.
You don’t have to break the mold with your mixes. There are a lot of really talented people out there who use tried and true techniques. Learn from them however you can.
And, the #1 myth – “I can just ‘fix it in the mix.’”
I believe it’s programmers who always say “garbage in, garbage out.”
It’s true in mixing, too. If your tracks sound like garbage, your mix will sound like polished garbage.
If your tracks sound amazing, then the mix is already halfway done. Don’t settle for “fixing it in the mix.” That’s not what mixing is for.
Which myth are you guilty of believing? (Hint: I’ve believed ALL of them at some point.)