This is a guest post from Björgvin Benediktsson, from

Are you the type of person that just dives into mixing without taking the time to really think about what the song needs?

Well, stop it.

You’re not doing yourself any favors.

In fact, I would argue that you’re spending more time mixing that way than with the way that I’m about to tell you.

You see, all too often we tend to reach for our plug-ins before we really think of what we’re going to do with them.

It’s like a knee-jerk reflex to slap an 1176 on the kick drum, or add a 5 kHz presence boost to the lead vocal.

You can probably think of more ways that you “automix” every time you pull up a new song in your DAW.

Well, how about I give you a different method that actually helps you get a great mix before you even slap on ANY of your favorite plug-ins.

Here we go:

Listen to the Song First

Here’s how you mix with your eyes closed.


  • Pull up all the faders.
  • Push play
  • Push yourself out of reach from your mouse and keyboard
  • Listen

That’s it.

Now you listen to the whole song and make mental notes on what is going on.

  • What needs work?
  • What sounds incredible as is?
  • What is super dynamic and needs heavy compression or automation?
  • What fills stick out that you need to pay attention to?
  • What’s getting drowned out that you need to pull up?

Once you think about all those things I do recommend getting within arms reach of your keyboard and jotting those notes down.

You might forget them once you start playing with your plug-ins too much.

Speaking of, before you add any plug-ins we’ll get to the most important part of starting your mix

Balance is the Holy Grail of Mixing

And you don’t even need ANY CPU power to get it.

If you spend just a little bit more time on balancing the faders in the beginning then everything else will come easy to you.

A decibel here and there will make a major difference.

Think about it as juggling 24 balls at once. Ridiculous I know but that’s what mixing is.

It’s making sure everything plays together and flows out of the speakers together in a balanced fashion.

As soon as one track is a bit too loud you lose the balance, just like one juggling ball thrown just a bit too high can cause the performer to lose his sense of motion.

Make Note of Automation Needs

Remember that I told you to think about what’s dynamic, or what needs to be brought forward?

You can do that from the start.

Once you’ve found a pretty good balance you can bring out the elements of the mix that deserve attention.

There’s no reason you NEED to leave automation for last. I usually prefer to do so because of the way I use compression but if you’re working with dynamic material with fills, sparkle and glitter every once in a while there’s no reason you can’t add some automation at the start.

It’s just a way of further enhancing that great balance you’ve already got.

From there, we can start adding EQ, compression, reverb, delay and saturation. Those are the must-use plug-ins in every mix and what I teach you to use effectively in my course, conveniently titled “Mixing With 5 Plug-ins”

It’s over 4.5 hours of video that tackles each of these plug-ins systematically every week.

CLICK HERE to check out Mixing With 5 Plugins using Joe’s affiliate link. If you place your order, forward your receipt to to receive Mix Practice for free! Offer ends on Friday, September 4, 2015!

  • Matt Mann

    Thanks for sharing this article, Joe. I love Björgvin’s approach and have read lots of his stuff. I think we often miss “the big picture” because of the individual frames….or….can’t see the forest for all the individual trees. You really need to see (hear) that forest before you start landscaping.

  • Jonny Lipsham

    This is GREAT! I posted on my website a wee challenge to my subscribers, challenging them to do their next mix with just the native EQ, compressor, delay and reverb only – and pan and faders. I’ve been mixing this way most of the time recently. I am getting some really great results.

    So good to read of others who have similar concepts.

    • Matt Mann

      You’re a master monster mixer, Jonny! 😉