If you read the question above, you probably have one of two reactions.

First, you may look at that, roll your eyes, and say, “No way it’s possible. You’ve got acoustical issues, inferior equipment, noise…it just won’t work.”

Or…you may look at that question and say, “Heck yeah it’s possible!”

Which category do you fall into? Seriously. It makes a huge difference. Your mindset can make or break your next project. I tend to fall firmly into the second category.

Skill Trumps Gear

Yes, great gear is awesome. A perfectly treated room is a killer luxury to have. But are they prerequisites for pro mixes? Nope.

Skill, talent, ablity — these things will always trump fancy equipment. Great equipment makes the job easier, but only if you already know how to use the gear. I could put a 15-year-old kid, fresh with his learners’ permit, into a Maserati. Will he be able to back it out of the driveway and get it down the road? Hopefully. But will he REALLY know how to drive that car like it’s meant to be driven? Nope.

I played golf the other day for the first time in a long time. I dug my crappy clubs out of the back of the shed, dusted off the cobwebs, put on my shoes (NOT golf shoes), and headed to the course. I refuse to buy nicer clubs until I’ve proven that I can get decent results with these really old clubs. A brand new driver would just mean my bad shots go farther out of bounds.

It’s kinda the same with gear. Hand Tiger Woods my sad set of clubs, and he’ll work magic. Hand Dave Pensado a cheap interface and stock Pro Tools plug-ins, and I bet he comes up with something awesome. It’s the gear between the ears that has the biggest impact.

Difficult, Not Insurmountable

Will you have obstacles in your home studio? Absolutely. There are a lot of things working against you. Less-than-awesome gear for one. Bad acoustics is another. They make it difficult to get pro results…but not impossible. You can push past these obstacles and get great results.

So, the answer is yes. You can get pro mixes at home. “Pro” is such a vague term anyway. If the client is happy with the mix, then it’s “pro.” If you’re happy with the mix, then it’s a pro mix. Keep working at it.

If you want to hear my home-made album, recorded and mixed in my home studio (and if you want to practice mixing it yourself), then check out Mix With Us.

Do you agree? Can you get a pro mix at home? Leave a comment below. It’ll take 30 seconds. Go!

  • Brandon

    I am sorry this is a few months old, but I am researching ways to save money these days… would you say it would be more effecient to record on decent gear in your home studio and have an engineer mix it in his studio? OR…. record through his Neve and API preamps in his studio and mix at home? I am very confident in my mixing abilities… let me just say that.

    • The source is the most important thing. If you can get great-sounding recordings in your home, then go for it. If his room sounds better, or if he’s better at recording, then I’d go that route.
      While Neve and API gear is great, they’re not NEARLY as important as the skills of the person using them.

  • Shearmanagement

    Thank you for your article.I have been trying to mix at home for months and have never received any formal sound engineering training. I face these issues but I believe it is possible.Thanks for the encouragement.

    • You’re very welcome. Keep working at it!

  • StianSylta

    I recently released the first single from my band ( as i’ve shared in the VIP lounge) and except the drums, everything was done at home with the tips I’ve found on Joe’s pages and cources these last years. Does it sound “pro”? I’ll leave that up to the listener, I sure think it sounds great myself, and the only thing I wasn’t 100% satisfied with was an arrangement desicion, NOT an audio quality concern.

    The stuff we learn from Joe on this site is pure gold, and I don’t think I ever would have found the guts to release the song worldwide if not for articles just like this one.

    Great post.

    • Thanks, Stian. And congrats again on finishing the project!

  • HA! You’re right. I mis-worded it. I fall firmly in the SECOND category. 🙂 Going to fix it now.

  • I’ve been a part of countless mix sessions done in a home studio. Many of them big, major label releases from world-famous artists. One such record even won a Grammy. Yeah, it’s not only possible. It’s factual.

  • Frank Adrian

    The amount of quality variation in so-called “pro mixes” is so great that, yes, by definition, you can get a “pro mix” at home because, ultimately, it is possible to get a mix that sounds good at home and that’s all that really matters.

    That being said, there are a couple of major things that you have to be cognizant of when you are producing mixes at home.

    The first is noise floor. If you are using less than stellar gear, noise is going to be greater than if you’re using top of the line gear. As such, you need your signal as hot as possible so that, when it is turned down for the mix, the noise is reduced (or, when you’re turning it up in the mix, the noise is being turned up less). Of course, this does not mean you overload and clip the signal. When using low-end gear, though, gain staging, overall levels, and total amounts of noise become critical.

    The second is, if you have a room with acoustical flaws, you need to know your room. The biggest issue most people have are with nodes and resonances in their rooms.

    How can you tell if you have one of these issues? The easiest is to get an audio sweep program or a test disc and play it. If you hear variations in volume you know you have resonances (if you can borrow an audio analyzer, that’s even better). The other way is to compare what you hear for relative levels in headphones with what you’re hearing from the monitors – if most of the bass notes are at the same level in the headphones and you’re hearing one or two of them really pop out or go away when listening on the monitors, you’ve got a room resonance at the notes that are popping out and a node at the notes that disappear. These can be reduced with proper acoustic treatment but, with the amount of money you’re probably willing to pay for a home studio, they can almost never be removed.

    So, how do you mitigate these issues? If you’re mixing a song in A, and you have a resonance at A, don’t mix the level of the bass based on when it’s hitting an A. Gauge the level of the bass in the mix when the bass is hitting other notes. Do the same for nodes. Finally, check on other systems to ensure translation (you should be doing this anyhow).  Note that you may have an issue checking for kick level, if the fundamental of the kick is at a node or resonance. If it is, checking on other systems may be the only way to deal with it. Take the mix to your home stereo or car and see if works there. Also note that budget studios can often have these issues as well. You’ll just need to be aware of them when you’re mixing in that room.

    • Absolutely love this. Great stuff, Frank. Thanks!