That’s right, I said it. I’ve heard too many people tell me that they aren’t happy with their mixes, and the next words out of their mouth are “I need to buy another…” — plug-in bundle or another microphone, or another pre-amp or another piece of software.
Unfortunately, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that’s not going to solve your problem.
You see, the issue is much simpler than that. If your mixes aren’t sounding good, I’m almost 100% certain that your plug-ins are not the main issue. The problem most of us run into when our mixes don’t sound how we want them to sound is that the tracks themselves don’t sound how we want them to sound.
Remember this — it’s impossible to have a great-sounding mix if you don’t have great-sounding tracks. You can certainly do a lot of things to improve the sound of your tracks, but to have a truly great mix, there’s really no substitute for starting with great sounding recordings.
You’ve heard me say this a bagillion times. Get it right at the source. I could sum up the entire life of an audio engineer with that one sentence; because if you truly make that your mantra, every time you setup a microphone, you will capture the source properly.
You’ll capture that source correctly before moving on to mixing. It’s simple, I know, but it’s very effective.
If you want your mixes to sound good, you’ve got to record sources that sound good using proper technique that makes them sound good, and then you can begin mixing. Ask anyone, and they will tell you it’s much easier to get a great mix when the tracks already sound good.
Some of my best mixes have been due to the fact that the recordings themselves were already so good. I pulled up all the faders and just listened to the tracks without applying a single plug-in, and it sounded great. At that point, my job wasn’t to fix things, but to simply enhance them, to make subtle changes here and there and make the track come together.
Imagine it this way: pretend that you can’t use plug-ins on your mix. Pretend that everything has to be completely flat with no processing whatsoever. Would that effect how you record sources? I bet it would.
So tell me, are you happy with your mixes?