Why does my mix sound so hard

15 reasons why your mix doesn't sound like the pro mix

Advice: Typical mistakes in audio mixing - and tips for improvement

Your song mix doesn't work? Perhaps you will find the problem and its solution here.

© Harman

It can be frustrating: You put heart and soul, time and money into a mix of equipment, but it still sounds ... well ... "homemade". Is there an almost insurmountable gap to professional productions? A gap, perhaps, but not necessarily “unbridgeable”. We have put together 15 points for you to help you recognize what often gets in the way of a professional mix.

1. No plan? But you should have it!

Some people can do it without, but it usually makes sense to know where to go before starting work. What should sound like? What is production based on? What are the special features of the song, band and singer that need to be highlighted? What needs to be done, what is done, what are the lessons from previous mixtures that you wanted to heed? So: pen and paper at hand and draw up a plan!

# Yoad Nevo: Hit Workflow

2. You don't hear what's happening well enough

The main task in mixing is sound assessment. To do this, it must be ensured that the interception situation is as good as possible. Instead of high-quality monitors and a room with good acoustics, headphones can also be used as a cheaper alternative for recognizing details and for the extreme frequency ranges. Nevertheless, you can't avoid the best possible speakers. The most important thing is that you know them well!

# Headphones for the studio #Near-field monitors # DIY acoustics

The most important control instrument are the ears - and by then the transmission chain has to be right!

3. The technical basis is inadequate

You hear it again and again - and it's true: Mistakes that were made during the recording cannot be easily removed by magic. And what has not been recorded cannot be conjured up. Sure, in case of doubt, you can replace the pressureless bass drum with a sound replacer, but the basis for a good mix is ​​good, tuned and well-sounding instruments that have been recorded with the right microphone in the right place. Even with non-acoustic signals such as bass via the DI box or the virtual synths, the following applies: The source material is already half the battle! Do you work "in the box" with virtual instruments? Great, then you can swap a sound while mixing instead of tinkering with an unsuitable one with a thousand effects.

4. You have only a musically poor foundation at your disposal

A great song, an excellent performance - the mix can be secondary. There are many examples of great recordings that basically sound awful. Today, in the age of autotune and excellent editing options, it is often the other way around and therefore not infrequently a mediocre performance that separates top from flop. Of course it can be straightened out and repaired, but it is still not really possible to "inspire" a weak musical performance. And besides, you should have to concentrate on other things when mixing instead of just working on a patchwork quilt.

# This is how you assess a recorded track

5. You forget an essential part that comes before the mix

Mixing is one thing, editing is another: You can achieve a lot by quantizing drum tracks, helping vocal tracks to get the right pitch, chopping tom signals and comping the best parts of a performance into the final “master take”. No question about it: that is a lot of work. But grab them! With some styles of music you shouldn't exaggerate, nothing is worse than a snotty punk song after the "Sagrotan" arrangement ...

Can be nerve-racking and time-consuming fiddling work, but it is essential for a good mix: Editing

6. Bad frequency graduation: You haven't tidied up in the frequency ranges

Many audio mixes suffer from the fact that instruments dispute frequency ranges for one another. So hears a lot in context, because the solo mode is not intended for mixing: the “fat” guitar, for example, doesn’t sound that big on its own and leaves room for other signals in the spectrum.

# EQing error

7. Levels are not optimal and the signals have too high or too little dynamics

The faders are extremely important - and not least because they have such a fine resolution, because the smallest differences can make a lot of difference with important signals. Guitar / main synth, snare, hi-hat and vocals in particular need to be carefully balanced. This is only possible if there is clarity in terms of frequency. But even then, it is the signal fluctuations that can make life difficult in the mix. Compressors can curb the signal dynamics. The professionals know how important the exact selection and setting is here, because the liveliness of the signal can be destroyed very quickly if the signal is used too hard.

# Failed to compress


There are many tools in sound engineering. Some should be used more often, some less often. And then there is the matter of their quality ... continue with points 8 - 15!