A plugin that can solve all your problems
We all know those popular audio guru forums where people love to talk about their favorite piece of gear. Nowadays we have social media and with it comes hundreds of different audio and music groups. Some groups are tied to a brand and aim to help customers solve their problems. Others are for asking advice about recording, mixing, songwriting or everything you can imagine. There is, however, one subject that keeps returning time after time and it is often asked by people just starting out.
The never-ending hunt for new toys
“What setting should I use for a fat mix?” or “what plugin do I need for my kick drum?” are mere examples. The problem is that these people ask for quick and dirty solutions and magic plugins that don’t exist. The worse thing is that people commenting on these questions will come up with their favorite plugins and soon a huge list is made up of must-have plugins. When the topic starter feels confident enough to spend his money on a certain plugin he while soon realize that this plugin can’t do all he wanted and therefore continues to search for new ones.
There also aren’t any magic settings or rules to apply eq or compression to a certain sound. The only rule that is set in stone is ‘use your ears’. It would be more helpful if people replied to these questions with helpful guidelines. For example, if you have muddy mix you can bring in reference tracks to compare your mix to a professional one and try to compensate for your mixing flaws.
Learning to mix takes time and effort
The truth is that learning to mix takes a lot of time and effort. Try to mix as much as you can and try to deconstruct other mixes. How is the overall balance? How loud is the reverb relative to the lead vocal? Listen to instrument placement in the stereo field. Also, listen to music on lots of different systems to understand how each system responds.
Another common mistake beginning mixers often make is overcomplicating things. They immediately dive into compressing the snare drum and eq’ing the background vocals. Why not look at the big picture and ignore that solo button to make a basic volume balance first. You also don’t have to process every single piece of audio. If it is ok, don’t touch it!