Friday, October 30, 2015

Let Your Mix Be Heard

Mixing is very much a mental ascent. There are elements that require a very precise touch, backed by head knowledge and experience. However, there are areas that necessitate a more "blind" approach. This is what I want to cover today.

Now, when I deliver this there will be many who bulk at it and many who never actually put it into practice. Why? Because it seems so simple. DON'T be one of those who obtains loads of tips, tricks, and head knowledge but never experiments or applies. 

Ok, so enough preface. What's the hack?! Here it is...

Close your eyes.

Yep, I know revelatory, huh? But don't just brush this aside. How many times have you went to adjust something in your DAW and "heard" an audible difference only to realize that that knob you were tweaking wasn't moving at all! (Guilty!)

We are so visual. We want to see results. Yet, mixing is not based off of sight, it is sound we're after. Therefore by eliminating our body's natural inhibition to "see" results we are giving ear to what the craft is calling for, audible results.


Action Step:

If you have a Surface Controller this will be easier to do but if not it is still easily achieved by using your mouse or track pad. 

1) Pull up a track in your mix and solo it. 
2) Now, open up that "go to" EQ you love.
3) Remove any settings that may be on it. If you like how it sounds then write down those settings before clearing it out. If it has no settings then make some quick adjustments from your gut. Write them down and clear it out.
4) Pick a band and cut it by -3dbs with a moderate Q (1.5-3.0)
5) Now grab a knob on your Surface Controller or click and hold that same thing with your mouse and close your eyes.
6) Sweep around the frequency spectrum without opening your eyes. 7) Listen critically to the track and hear where that cut makes the most effective difference to get closer to the sound you're after.

Note: If you wrote down your settings from the previous adjustments, look at where your setting ended up and see if it matches your previous one. Which one sounds better? What did you discover!?