The only universally applicable rule of mixing is that stimulating an emotional response in the listener trumps all other aims. While it’s obviously a great idea to seek tips, tricks and guidance when you’re learning how to mix, and to consider how you might apply that advice, you also have to be careful that in the process of applying it you don’t lose sight of the big picture. With that thought in mind, here, in no particular order, are 12 things that I reckon many people often worry about a bit too much when they’re mixing.
We all now have access to pitch‑correction software like Auto‑Tune and Melodyne and can, if we wish, make a recorded vocal sound pitch‑perfect. But great vocal performances have imperfections, and if you focus too hard on ironing out every one you’ll often be left with a part that lacks soul and emotion. What’s more, as our ears are particularly well tuned to vocals we notice processing artefacts in them much more than in other sounds.
Judging by the reader demos I’ve heard over the years, many people would be better off paying far more attention to the tuning of instruments, and allow the main event a bit more wiggle room!
It’s a similar story with timing correction. It can be a drag on two fronts: if you spend ages quantising or minutely nudging individual notes to a grid or groove template, only to discover that you’ve sucked away any sense of groove or human feel, you’ll have wasted time and lost perspective.
If that sounds like you, try backing off a little: fix what needs fixing, and ignore what doesn’t.