Last week I finished a mix for one of the Monthly Mix Scholarship students that I’d like to talk about today.
In fact, I’m taking applications for April this week so if you’re interested in a custom mix walkthrough please apply for the scholarship here.
Edin was last month’s scholarship winner and we worked on one of his songs, a Bosnian singer/songwriter style song with great acoustic guitar arrangements and killer guitar solos.
Scholarship Lesson: Do Less at Each Stage
The biggest lesson I tried to give him was to do less processing at any one time.
You see, your final mix is based on a million tiny mix moves.
Ok…maybe not a million moves. That’s probably an exaggeration but you get the point!
No one move does anything incredibly drastic, but if you put them all together you get something much bigger than if you’re just trying to make one processor do all the heavy lifting.
Take compression for instance. One of the biggest issues with Edin’s rough mix was the audible compression throughout the song. My main advice to him was to use less compression at every stage of the mix.
Instead of cranking your compressor and pushing 10 dB of gain reduction, which might cause audible pumping, add a couple compressors in series that are compressing less at each time.
Or better yet, use parallel compression to leave your original signal intact (or maybe just compressing the peaks) while slamming the signal in parallel.
This is what I did on his drum bus which made his drums much punchier and present than if I had compressed them heavily on the bus itself.
The Same Goes for Other Processors
I did the same with my other processing such as EQ’ing and adding effects.
So by adding a little bit of processing at each stage you’ll end up with a cleaner and more dynamic mix. Think of that the next time you’re working on your mixes.
Think of that the next time you find yourself doing something too heavy-handed to your tracks!
If you want a glimpse into my mixing process, check out my 2-hour mix tutorial where I transform a rough recording into a quality mix: