There must always be a certain amount of masking going on in any mix, but I just don’t know how much there should be. Can you offer any tips?
Project Studio Expo audience question
Mix specialist Mike Senior replies: There are various things that alert me to masking, but none better than mix referencing. If you’ve attempted to match your mix against relevant commercial releases in terms of loudness and overall tonality, then anything in your mix that isn’t clearly audible enough may well be a victim of masking.
So let’s say your vocals don’t sound upfront enough — the likelihood is that something else in the arrangement is obscuring a critical frequency range of the vocal. Try going back to the mix and toggling the mute button for any likely tracks, while all the time listening to the vocal sound and presence. Does the vocal take a step forward when you turn off the acoustic guitar? If so, try cutting some frequencies from the guitar track to achieve a more upfront vocal sound.
Another thing that can help is to switch your monitoring into mono, which often makes masking issues more obvious by removing the clarifying side-effect of stereo positioning.