Top 3 Mixing Mistakes
Updated: Jan 3
I would like to share the most Common Mixing Mistakes I still see daily, from a VERY LARGE test group. To help Artists and Home Studio Producers improve their mixes.
Hello, I'm Paul from Audio Mixing Mastering. A little background. I started online in 2009, way before LANDR, $5 Freelancers, and before 90% of the online studios today. Being one of the first studios online combined with ranking Top 3 in Google for every studio search term, I was getting 500 visitors A DAY, and fortunate enough to work with 100-150 clients a month for over 2 years. I was able to master and give mixing advice to thousands of home engineers.
Working with such a large test group, if I saw a mixing issue 2,000 times (which I did), this means it IS a PROVEN major issue for most home studios, that needs to be watched out for.
Here Are The TOP 3 Most Common Mixing Mistakes to Watch Out For
Note – When I work with a record label and their producer for a radio destined project, their mixes are PRISTINE. NO issues #1, 2 or 3. If anything, its bass and brightness balance from song to song, overall compression and volume (this is always needed because the songs were never mastered).
#3. LEAD VOCAL NOT LOUD ENOUGH
This isn't a frequent issue, but extremely serious. Maybe 5% of the mixes I get in, I can't understand 60% of the vocals, at all. Why was it mixed like this? The artist knows the vocals, so they can't tell they're not discernible to someone who hasn't. Or they are a poor singer and want to sit way under the music. The problem is, they almost always refuse to fix them and give me the same reason, “We want some mystery in our vocals for the listener. Haven't you heard songs like this before?” Yeah, maybe a few words, but not the entire chorus!! Someone who has never heard your song has to be able to understand the vocals.
#2. INCONSISTENT SECTIONS
This issues is very common. Verses, bridge, pre-chorus, chorus, finale, etc. these are all parts of a song, but need to be treated like separate mixes. Most home engineers use the same volume levels and effects for the entire song. I did when I started out. I didn't know any better.
If you have a vocal and four instruments at the start, then another section has four vocals and ten instruments, obviously you can't keep your initial volume and effects settings the same.
If you do, sometimes what happens is the verses with less instrumentation are thin, one section the bass is too low (or purposely eliminated) and the vocals are too loud and bright (VERY common in EDM mixes I get in), then when all the instruments come in for the chorus the vocals get run over, and maybe a hi hat or something else disappears too.
#1. NO SPACE IN THE MIX
Listen to mixes on the radio, Celine Dion comes to mind. She could be whispering with a full orchestra playing and you can still hear her loud and clear. The mix has SPACE!
Most of the songs I got in suffered from NO SPACE to some extent, even today. Instrument volume balance and choice of effects is usually mixed very well. EQ for space, panning, number of instruments, and amount of effects used is off to some extent, and in some cases it creates a mash of noise.
After mastering I still get great results for a crowded song, but perfection is not possible.