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The Bodybuilder’s Guide to Mixing Awesome Music

The gym is a scary place.

Especially when you’re starting out. All those people grunting and lifting weights.

For a beginner, it’s very intimidating.

If you don’t know how to do any of the exercises, you randomly hop from  one machine to the other.

By doing this, you hope that you’re doing the exercises right and that you’ll “get fit soon.”

Big mistake. Without a dedicated workout plan and knowing what you’re doing, you’ll just end up pushing and pulling at the machines with no result.

A newbie trying every exercise machine, hoping to get fit?

To be honest, that sounds an awful lot like a beginner’s music mixing.

The Bodybuilder’s Music Mixing

My body is no temple, but I like to keep it in shape. When I go to the gym, I stick to a plan and don’t use any of those stupid machines.

Mostly with barbells, I do three things:

  1. Squats
  2. Dead lifts
  3. Bench presses

With a few extra arm, shoulder and back exercises thrown in for variety, that’s what I do every week.

I don’t touch any of the machines because they simply don’t work as well as those three core exercises.

Similarly, you don’t need to use every fancy plug-in you got to make your mix sound good.

More processing does not equal a better mix. – Click to Tweet!

Sometimes all you need is a good balance, EQ and compression. With a hint of delay and reverb thrown in, that’s what makes most mixes amazing.

Scale back your mixing and find what really works. Learn to use the most effective processors well and your mixes will get better immediately.

No Rest for the Rookie

If you like working out, you can go overboard with ambition. Going 5 – 7 times a week might seem dedicated to you, but it’s actually counterproductive to your body.

Your muscles need rest. They need time to grow. If you keep pummeling them in the gym, they won’t get any rest and they’ll grow much slower.

If you’re an ambitious mixer, then you might have the same problem. You mix for hours on end without giving your ears any breaks.

It’s just as counterproductive as pummeling your muscles. Your ears will get tired whether you like it or not.

That’s when you start making mistakes. With fatigued ears, you won’t hear the little nuances of your mix. You’ll often make bad decisions and make great tracks sound worse.

Give your ears a rest when you’re mixing. They need it just as much as your muscles.

A Plan With the Biggest Return

The only way to improve your body is to have a plan. If you don’t document your workouts, your muscles won’t get bigger. You won’t remember how much you did last time and your body won’t improve as fast. Sure, you’ll get in shape if you just go regularly and push yourself, but having a plan means that you’re always pushing forward.

Starting a mix without a plan and randomly moving knobs around is the least effective way to mix. By having a plan of action, you’ll have a better idea of where your mix is going. Don’t jump around the mix like a crazy person.

Start with the drums, then move on to the bass, or make the vocal shine. Move on from there. Know where your mix is going, and have a plan to get there. It’s much more efficient and effective.

If you guidance in planning your mix, check out Mixing Strategies. 

Image by: Greatist

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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