When it comes to making music, there isn't usually a “one size fits all." One of my best suggestions for unexperienced producers is to find a good mentor to learn from, and get involved in a community that supports the type of music you want to create. This is a sure way to fast-track your skills and overall growth as an artist. Aimlessly searching YouTube videos will only get you so far...
I put together this article sharing 5 common mixing mistakes I’ve seen producers make, after years of learning from Platinum & Grammy engineers in the studio.....
#1 Mistake: Not side-chaining the bass to the kick
In the world of dance music, side-chaining can be used for two main purposes, sound design (for effect) and mixing.
Side-chaining for effect. Ever hear those big sweeping future-bass synths that swell up and down to a “pumping” rhythm? That’s a perfect example of side-chaining. Ableton Live makes it easy to side-chain sounds, you can learn how in this video tutorial with Ableton's Compressor audio effect. Also, you can get a cool pumping effect with the Auto Pan audio effect.
There’s some cheap and easy plugins you can use for instant side-chaining without the extra routing, such as Nicky Romero’s KickStart and Wave’s OneKnob Pumper.
Side-Chaining for mixing. Side-chaining a kick to the bass is important, especially in electronic dance music. It’s absolutely necessary for moving conflicting frequencies of instruments that overlap each other. This sometimes is fixed by adjusting your EQ, but sometimes side-chaining is necessary so you don’t have to carve out important frequencies of certain instruments.
If you really want to go deeper in the studio with dialing in your bass relationship with your kick/ bass frequencies, consider getting a Subpac. I've used it for years and it made a HUGE difference with my mixes. Click here and use the code LIVEPRODUCERS to save $25 on your order.
#2 Mistake: Using multiple Reverbs that don’t blend well together in the overall mix.
Too often, producers have problems using multiple ambiences and making them relate. When something is too wet, too dry, or in too large/ small of a space at a given moment in the track, it can sound unnatural to the human ear. Using multiple ambiences that work together is certainly more of an art than a science — it's all about ear training.
Typically the more reverb you have, the further away “in the room” that instrument lives in the mix. Less reverb means it’s closer to the listener. However, a plate reverb can create that "space" while keeping the sound close. This is a popular reverb type used on vocals, snares, etc.
Ask yourself, “What is the overall ambience on this track?” Living room? Small club? Big club? Outer space? Choose your reverbs with that in mind, rather than randomly throwing presets in a track and hoping for the best.