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Post Most Common mixing/music problems/mistakes you see


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Just a thread for people to see and for newer music artist to take advice on and improve on, not to be confused with a query type thread. Just post mistakes you see and solutions, your post can be as long as you can type, and corrections are also welcomed.

What I commonly see is people mixing Way too loud

solution: mix low, theres a reason your mixer has a line/redzone that tells you one track is too loud, try not to let your sliders come close to that line unless your sound is a bit weak on loudness, or not loud at all.

And use a compressor on master to boost your track with out clipping if you want to. or use a compressor to add energy to a track or depress a track

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I know this is an old topic, but I want to post what I do and give my $1. And when I say compressor, I mean a dedicated compressor, not a limiter. Also, this is again, just how I would do things. I'm

I think one of the main issues I see from newbs is too much of a good thing. That first time you use a phaser, you're going to think its the most awesome thing in the world - PUT PHASER ON EVERYTHING.

By phasing issues, I'm referring to how phase cancellation happens more audibly when you are mixing in mono. If you take two identical sine waves and overlay them spot on (in phase), they will turn ou

While not the most common problem I see, it's the most common problem I have... not making punchy enough beats. The most common problem I see is unbalanced volume mixing. Remember - you want your whole song to be audible! Not just one guitar/synth. If you can't hear one of your instruments, fix it so you can.

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One of my problems was using crappy headphones to monitor my music.

When I first started out remixing, I had some super cheap $15 headphones that I was using. For some reason, I though what I heard on those headphones, would be what people hear when they listen to my mix. Turns out, I had WAY too much bass in my mixes, because I was overcompensating for the lack of a decent low frequency playback through those headphones. Now, I'm not saying "Go out and get some $200+ headphones," but a pair that will produce studio quality sound, which is especially important what making music.

Applying too much compression was another one for me. I often had problems with my basslines and drums sounding muddy and nasty. So now, whenever I notice clipping and whatnot, I try to reduce the volume on that instrument, or even the particular notes that cause it. Then, I apply light compression to hammer out any other issues that I might have missed.

Since I do not have a keyboard, I have trouble with pianos and guitars sounding mechanical in my songs. So, humanization is the key to fixing this. Making some notes play louder or softer than others, and tweaking the timing of the notes will help make it sound more like natural playing. I've even added some funky sounding notes here and there in some of my mixes to make it sound like I made a mistake. But, I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you get really good at "cover up sequencing."

I'll think of more later...

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A big problem I've had until recently is using the same tone for different parts of the music that are panned in the same location and not EQing it at all. An example can be heard

, where I had four guitar tracks running other than the main lead, two panned right and two panned left, same tone, no EQ, and playing different parts. Hear how muddy that crap sounds?

Also, the only monitoring I have currently is a $20 Logitech headset, so my production quality sounds muffled on many other setups as a result. Like Blue Magic said, that doesn't really cut it.

Also, check my Red Zone remix for a great example of massive production issues including extremely mechanical-sounding drums and over-compression.

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Just on the WiP boards:

-People lack punch in their drums.

-They mix everything muddy.

-The synths lack complexity, they sound like FL Studio's 3xOsc without any mixer track effects.

-Lack of humanization in acoustic instruments.

-Lack of substantial arrangement. Usually I see a 2 minute cover without any sort of completely original territory.

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Now, I'm not saying "Go out and get some $200+ headphones," but a pair that will produce studio quality sound, which is especially important what making music.

I'm going to disagree with this sentiment and say that while having a good pair of headphones as your "microscope" is a good thing, having good stereo monitoring speakers is far more important. Any sort of panning or spatial awareness is completely bias on headphones, as opposed to an actual sound system.

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Piano humanization is hard, and I'm not good at it.

EQing and having samples sound crisp is something I haven't been able to make any progress on from day one. It's all mud and instruments seem to all occupy the same space.

I don't know how to make things sound "wide", such as in space-themed electronic tracks a la Mass Effect.

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Common mistakes people make:

  • Substituting reverb for poor samples/synths/instruments.
  • Sidechaining to move things out of the way (when you should use eq).
  • Autotune instead of singing on key (autotune just sounds bad when it's on everything and turned all the way up).
  • Over-eq'ing (don't turn up frequencies you don't need).
  • Under-eq'ing (kill the frequencies that don't help you).

Fix mistakes first in the arrangement/composition, before you use eq (lot of things playing close to the same notes is usually bad). Remember, less is usually more.

Use stereo for final mastering, not for mixing. Mixing/arranging should be in MONO.

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I'm going to disagree with this sentiment and say that while having a good pair of headphones as your "microscope" is a good thing, having good stereo monitoring speakers is far more important. Any sort of panning or spatial awareness is completely bias on headphones, as opposed to an actual sound system.

Well, I understand you're point, but try that in an apartment. Your neighbors will not be as enthusiastic about your music as you are. Then, you have to be in a completely quiet area (almost sound proof), no outside noise, or distractions. Reverb will not sound quite as accurate.

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Thinking that one device will (or is supposed to) solve everything. There's a reason they talk about an "effects chain" - it means that there are multiple parts working together to achieving a certain sound or effect.

Thinking that having 2 (or worse, more) DAWs next to eachother will enable them to make music that's twice as good (this does not count if you rewire Reason into another DAW unless you're still clueless in both pieces of software).

Thinking that switching from one sequencer (that hosts plugins of a sort) to another (that also hosts plugins of a sort) is going to make everything sound more professional.

Thinking that having 200 free plugins installed is a good thing. Use your DAW's own effects; focus on learning a few decent plugins - and you know what to do with the others. More importantly, you've learned to appreciate what you can and cannot do with what you have, and any other compressor or EQ is not going to sound a zillion times more awesome than the built-in one if you still don't know how to use it.

Turn down the volume of each channel. Seriously, throwing a multiband compressor on the master does not solve the problem of having every channel in the red. If you ever asked yourself why you can't get your drums loud: IF EVERYTHING ELSE IS LOUD TOO, NOTHING IS. Kind of like WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPS - NOTHING STICKS OUT ANYMORE.

Don't pick up one-liners as god-given advice because Famous Dude on Some Message Board said Something That Sounded Neat.

One-liners like "cut, don't boost" have 3-4 pages of explanation behind 'm. It doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It doesn't mean you should do it. It means that you have to understand why this is said and why it works as a guideline so you get the full worth out of the quote. If you slavishly follow it, you're not thinking for yourself. Don't go fishing for one-liners. Asking for "tricks" is like asking for the outcome of each combination of "a + b = c" in math class. Just learn what addition means; the outcome of a single sum is meaningless.

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I disagree. Panning is a good way to enhance your mixing. It adds neat effects when used the right way, too.

You don't understand the difference between mixing and post-mixing/mastering. When you have things playing in stereo, you don't hear issues that can be caused by phasing (which happens when you record from two different microphones), and you don't hear conflict between frequencies of different instruments as well.

Most people don't realize this, but they have a dominant ear, and prefer the sounds they hear from one speaker or the other. Mixing in mono resolves this issue. When you are FINISHED getting rid of all conflict and other issues, you can add panning and stereo effects at the very end. Since you've gotten used to listening to everything in mono, when you convert it into stereo you'll find that you're able to hear the changes adding stereo and panning effects cause, being that you haven't just listened to the mix in stereo a bajillion times already.

I'm not saying anything controversial. This is standard practice in professional studios.

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You don't understand the difference between mixing and post-mixing/mastering. When you have things playing in stereo, you don't hear issues that can be caused by phasing (which happens when you record from two different microphones), and you don't hear conflict between frequencies of different instruments as well.

Most people don't realize this, but they have a dominant ear, and prefer the sounds they hear from one speaker or the other. Mixing in mono resolves this issue. When you are FINISHED getting rid of all conflict and other issues, you can add panning and stereo effects at the very end. Since you've gotten used to listening to everything in mono, when you convert it into stereo you'll find that you're able to hear the changes adding stereo and panning effects cause, being that you haven't just listened to the mix in stereo a bajillion times already.

I'm not saying anything controversial. This is standard practice in professional studios.

I agree with this as well to add panning when your done recording and get the ideas out then mix the tracks first in mono, because doing so while mixing will screw with your frequencys indeed and can cause post production problems, also worrying about mixing while your recording is not the best as well cause your not done recording, and your ideas are going to fly right out you!

Mixes that don't pass 2:00 minutes.

So what? I have premature song endings, that doesn't stop me from living a healthy, creative musician life!

I'm a fucking joke...

Some people who make tracks less then or equal to 2:00 have some great stuff.

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Wait... but there are synths and effects that pan on their own, and I hear them doing so which means my channels are not mono by default. Mono means a single channel and both ears would hear the exact same thing, right?

if the synth is giving a stereo signal, then the bus or mixer track the synth is in will contain a stereo sound, so phasing rules still will apply.

the track bus it self is still a mono track but containning a stereo signal, so its will be a stereo sound you will hear same as hard panning in your daw, no sonic diffrence.

not to be confused with panning tracks for the the "haas" trick with delaying one track within 5ms-25ms.

so its still advised you work with that synth and effect unpanned to continue your work and after recording making your mixing easier, always worry about making you music sound pretty last and save it for post mixing/mastering.

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  • Substituting reverb for poor samples/synths/instruments.

D'oh! How'd you know it was me!?

Seriously, movie quotes aside, I always thought of this as the lesser of two evils, with the greater evil being leaving the poor sample/synths/instruments to fend for themselves.

Any advice for a guy who doesn't want to spend too much money?

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