Before you can even delve into creating a great mix, it’s good to be aware of the traits of one that isn’t there yet. These 7 signs of a amateur mix come from the 4th edition of my Mixing Engineer’s Handbook and are useful in picking out problem areas, looking at it from a global level instead of examining individual tracks.
Does your mix have any of these characteristics?
1. The mix has no contrast.
That means that the song has the same musical or sonic texture throughout the entire song, or the mix is at the same level and intensity throughout the song.
2. The mix has a wandering focal point.
There are holes between lyrics where nothing is brought forward in the mix to hold the listener’s attention.
3. The mix is noisy.
Clicks, hums, extraneous noises, count-offs, and sometimes lip-smacks and breaths can be clearly heard.
4. The mix lacks clarity and punch.
The instruments aren’t distinct, or the low end is either too weak or too big.
5. The mix sounds distant and devoid of any feeling of intimacy.
The mix sounds distant because of too much reverb or overuse of other effects.
6. The mix has inconsistent levels.
Instrument levels vary from balanced to quiet or too loud, or certain lyrics or instrument lines can’t be distinguished.
7. The mix has dull and uninteresting sounds.
Generic, dated, or often-heard sounds are being used. There’s a difference between using something because it’s hip and new and using it because everyone else is using it.
Having even one of the attributes will instantly label your work as an amateur mix, something that no one wants. Not to worry, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you mix is bad, only that it’s not yet finished.
Back to the drawing board.
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