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10 Mixing Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Song!

10 Mixing Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Song

You want good sounding songs? Then you’d best leave these mixing methods alone.

Listen Solo

Listening to the solo usually does more harm than good. Especially when listening to individual signals, one tends to make the signal fatter. In the overall context, this is usually not advantageous.

It should rather be done for each instrument. When you listen to the best mixes solo, the individual signals usually sound thin. In the overall context, however, everything fits together. Too many fat individual signals destroy the mix.

Too Much Compression

With too much compression you take the life out of every song. Especially on the sum, you can kill a good mix out of false loudness ambition. Too much compression sounds depressed and mostly flat. The bass has no life anymore and the highs sizzle. Kick no longer sounds powerful, but thin and “pops” rather than “kicks”.

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Listen Only on One System

Reference songs are especially important for mixing novices. You should know them by heart on your home system. This will help you to better evaluate your own mixes on any system.

In order to check your own mix, it is enormously important to listen to it on different equipment. Different listening situations reveal different weaknesses in the mix. You don’t need a factory full of studio monitors now. But use car speakers, headphones or portable radios. Every different sounding monitor will help you.

Clipping

The red digital light should never be on. Digital distortion sounds bad and is unnecessary. With bitrates above 24 bits, there is enough room for any sound without having to overdrive it. If you tend to push things into the red area, you should rather think about which elements are too loud or take up too much space.

The peak of my loudest signal, which is usually the kick, is at about -5dB FS in the home position. This leaves enough room for all the other instruments in the mix without having to digitally bang the sum against the wall.

Do Not Use Subgroups

Especially for songs with many tracks you should use subgroups. This simply gives you more control over the combined tracks.

I like to divide my mixes into the subgroups:

  • Drums
  • Bass
  • Synthesizer / Instruments
  • Vocal verse
  • Vocal Bridge
  • Vocal Chorus

Especially for change requests where small volume changes need to be made, this is the easier solution than moving each fader individually.

Listen too Loud

Listening too loudly can have nasty consequences for the mix. As a rule, such mixes sound very punchless at normal level.

In contrast, songs that have been mixed with adequate levels are clearly punchier. It doesn’t matter if they are listened to loudly or softly.

Do Not Take a Break

Ears get tired just like muscles during sports. That’s why you should give them a break. Unlike muscles, they regenerate relatively quickly. Usually a good 30 minutes is enough for the ear to be approximately reset.

This can be different for each person, but I recommend taking a break after two hours at the latest. The time gap also gives you a different perception of the mix. This can be especially helpful in mixing sessions where you just don’t know what to do next. It’s often much easier to take the right steps after a break.

Recording / Editing and Mixing

One tip I took away from famed mixing engineer Chris Lord Alge is to focus exclusively on one thing per day. Either recording, editing or mixing. Two things a day make for worse results in his opinion.

I’ve had the same experience. You get very involved with the song while recording and editing. The ear gets used to the sound in the time. Thus after a certain time the objectivity is missing. With a distance of a few hours or a day, you simply perceive the song better again.

Poor Recording Quality

This is not a mixing method, of course, but I think it belongs here anyway. A bad recording can not be made to sound even by the best mixing engineer. At most an optimization can take place. Therefore, it is even more important during the recording or production to pay attention to a high level of sound.

No Love of Experimentation

No experiments mean boring mixes. Rarely does a firework of effects fit. But a little spice always goes. Be it a distorted tape delay or a telephone effect on the voice. Targeted effects can loosen up the song and give it a special sound.

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