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Identifying The Seven Characteristics Of An Amateur Mix

Although some artists and mixers get lucky by flying through a mix, making and mixing records usually takes a lot of time and attention.

By Bobby Owsinski April 11, 2011

The Mixing Engineer's Handbook

5) Mixes That Sound Distant And Are Devoid Of Any Feeling Of Intimacy
The mix sounds distant because too much reverb or overuse of other effects.

This is another common trait since a newbie mixer thinks the plug-in effects are so cool (because they are!) that they want to use them all on everything all the way through the song.

You’d be surprised just how many effects are used in a great mix sometimes, but the results are so subtle that you can’t really tell unless you had the original non-effected sound to compare with.

In an amateur mix, you hear them all screaming at you all the time. If you can make it sound great without effects first, you’ll automatically moderate their use.

6) Inconsistent Levels
Instrument levels that vary from balanced to too soft or too loud or lyrics that can’t be distinguished.

Once again, a newbie mixer usually sets the faders and forgets them, but mixing is just as dynamic as the music. Every note of every solo and every word of the vocal must be heard.

Even with automation as sophisticated as it is these days, it still takes some time and a critical ear to be sure that everything is heard.

7) Dull And Uninteresting Sounds
Generic, dated or frequently-heard sounds are used. There’s a difference between using something because it’s hip and new and using it because everyone else is using it.

The latest example is the Auto-tune keying trick initially used by Cher, then copied by the Backstreet Boys and most recently Kanye West and others. They’ve already used it, so give it a rest.

It doesn’t mean you’re cool if you use it, just a copycat. The same with generic synth patches from a Roland Motif (this problem goes all the way back to the 80’s with the electric piano sound of the DX-7).

We’ve heard them all. Time for something new. Most great artists strive for something that no one has ever heard before.

Although some artists and mixers get lucky by flying through a mix, making and mixing records usually takes a lot of time and attention.

We’d all like it to go faster, but there are some things that you just can’t let get by. Eliminate the seven characteristics of an amateur mix and you’ll be surprised just how good your song can sound.

Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog.


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About Bobby

Bobby Owsinski
Bobby Owsinski

Music Industry Veteran and Technical Consultant
Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. To read more from Bobby, and to acquire copies of his outstanding books such as The Recording Engineer’s Handbook, be sure to check out his website at www.bobbyowsinski.com.
http://www.bobbyowsinski.com/

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