Are you still missing these "game saving" mix techniques?

There's nothing more frustrating than hitting your head against a "brick wall" (Pun not intended) whilst working on a mix. As engineers and producers, we often see ourselves as "problem solvers". When something in a mix isn't sitting right we start trying to solve the puzzle. But something I notice (Most often in the online community), are people trying to solve simple puzzles with complex solutions.

Ever heard the saying, "The simplest explanation is often the correct one?"
The same goes for problem-solving a mix!

So I've taken some time to put together a list of 5 simple techniques which I believe are extremely useful but we all sometimes forget about.

  1. Real-time volume automation. A common issue I hear in a lot of mixes is a lack of movement. Sometimes just “setting” the level isn’t enough. Performing out, creating ebb & flow by automating fader movements in real time can embellish the sense of depth and movement in a mix.
  2. Distort for clarity. This one is a great trick of the trade when you don’t want to crank something, but still want it to have a presence in the mix. The edge that subtle or even extreme distortion gives can really help this along.
  3. Level match your processors to the bypass. Louder is better right?... This is a trap many people fall into when they place a fancy new plug-in on the channel. Once everything is tweaked they’ll often find themselves listening to something either louder or softer than the original signal. Scratching their heads wondering if any improvement has been made. Level-match the outputs of your processor to the input (bypassed signal) so you can hear the REAL tonal changes taking place to your source material, not just the overall volume.
  4. Compress for DYNAMICS. Often we fi nd ourselves reaching for a compressor to help tame the dynamics in a performance/recording. Contrarily slow attack times (20-30ms +) on a compressor can help embellish the dynamics and transients.
  5. Pan for width. Another common issue that arises in mixes is MONO compatibility. Especially with synths, guitars and pads. Instead of reaching for your stereo widening plug-in, use the pan potentiometers on the top of the channel strip. Push your sounds either left or right of eld/where desired. This is a much more “mono friendly” approach, and will help prevent any phase correlation issues arising.

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