Why Your Mix Sucks And How To Fix It Part I
The questions I get asked the most always have to do with mixing. Why does my mix suck? What am I doing wrong? In the next few blog post I am going to talk about why your mix sucks and what you can do to fix it. First and introduction to the mixing process.
If you are new to making beats, producing or recording eventually you are going to have to do a mix of your music. What is mixing? Mixing is when you take all the different tracks of audio and or midi and combine them together into some sort of file that normal people can hear on there stereo, ipod or computer. Usually this would be a stereo wav, aiff, or mp3 file. The wav and aiff file can then be burned on to a CD. The mp3 file can emailed, posted on your myspace page or website, and uploaded to your ipod or other mp3 player. Mixing is the final place for you to make changes to your music and fix problems.
What about mastering you ask? Mastering is for the people who do mastering. The point of mastering is to take a collection of music, put it together and make it sound consistent, and press it on a CD. There are certain things that can be fixed and or enhanced during the mastering phase of a project but these things should be done for the sake of consistency. Just to be clear… If you think there is something that needs to be changed, or fixed in your music the last chance you have to do is during the mixing process. That is why it is so important.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what mixing is and why it so important lets move on to the hard part. Why your mix sucks?
Reason #1 “We’ll fix it in the mix”
If you have to fix it in the mix that usually means it the music shouldn’t have made it to the mixing stage. The truth hurts some times but if your thinking about doing music professionally at some point you’re going to have to come to grips with this. Now before you get discouraged continue reading…. This doesn’t mean that your an awful musician, you have no talent or you don’t know how to make beats. What it does mean that you have to make better musical decisions. If your an artist it means you have to allow our self more time to prepare for a recording and more time to record. The mixing process starts at the same time making music does. The better the music sounds from the start the easier the mixing process gets. I can not stress this enough.
Tips for Better Mixing Part I – Production Secrets.
1. Practice makes perfect. If your a singer or rapper recording a verse, you should not be reading your lines in the recording booth. Rehearse them to the point of memory, keep the lyric sheet around as a guide. Know in advance what parts of the song you might want to double or triple, where you might want to add harmonies. Be Prepared.
2. Record more than one take. Even if you feel that the one take you recorded was the best it could possibly be performed, Record Another one. Parts of a take can be edited together. This is called comping. Usually when an artist continues recording they also get more comfortable in front of the microphone. All these things add to a better performance.
3. Listen to what you are actually recording. This one goes for producers and artists. When you are done recording a take, Stop and play it back. If it is great, move on. If not listen for where you need to make corrections and see what you can do better. If it doesn’t sounds good now its not going to sound good later. No really.
4. Spend more time choosing your sounds. This tip is more for the producers and beat makers. Try different sounds while you are making beats. The right kick and snare or combination of kicks and snares can really bring a drum track to life. If the drums in your beats are hitting hard then maybe you need to use better drum samples. Its possible also that the drums sounds your using clash with other sounds in the track. Bottom line is take time to decide, listen, try different sounds and see what works best.
5. Change Keys. When your making beats or even singing a song the over all key your recording your music in will have an effect on how the music sounds. James Brown recorded most of his music in the same key. It wasn’t because the musicians could only play in one key. It was because the instruments sounded good in this key. If sounds seem to clash then try the melody in a different place on the keyboard or read tip 4 over again.
6. Use Layering. To make a beat or song that will sound fuller layer your sounds and vocals. A simple beat might only have 1 musical idea or melody but by layering different sounds together it will sound much fuller then one instrument by itself. You can use this sample principle when recording vocal parts and with your drum tracks. Its important to use your ear as the ultimate production tool at this point. There is a big difference between layering, and over doing it. Do not just stack things together with no reason. Do it because you like the end result.
Next week we will continue with Why Your Mix Sucks Part II. Until then if you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below and subscribe to our email list for free sounds, and production and recording tips.