Here are 9 mixing mistakes I’ve noticed many beginners do while starting to produce music (and I must admit – I did all of them myself!). I will also include ways to rectify these problems so that you can start becoming a better music producer, and also some audio and visual examples.
Let’s take a look at them. Are you doing any of these mistakes today?
Disclaimer: I come from a soundtrack background, so these tips primarily stem from that music production knowledge. However, they can be applied across all genres of music.
Mistake #1. Forgetting About Orchestration
This is the number 1 mistake in all the history of music creation mistakes, and it relates a lot to mixing. Orchestration is what you use when you build up your sound. It is all the instruments and synths you choose, all the extra layers, the colors of sound – it is what makes up your music. You consciously choose these sounds for your music, so why not choose sounds that sound good without much mixing needed? You should react to your sound and mix accordingly, not choose randomly what you think works and then fix mistakes in the mixing stage.
In order to be a great producer, one must realize the importance of orchestration and how it affects every single aspect of music creation.
Do you really need that extra low synth bass together with the bass guitar there? It sounds a little bit muddy, doesn’t it? Let’s remove the synth bass and keep the bass guitar. Whoa! The mix suddenly cleared up and the bass region is now much more clean and audible!
While this is more linked to a music writing tip, orchestration affects your entire mix, because the mix comprises consciously orchestrated sounds.
Mistake #2. Mixing Proactively, Not Reactively
A common misconception is that mixing is something you must do because it is just a part of music production. This makes less experienced producers slam on effects they don’t understand why they are using, and things just end up messy and not carefully thought out and listened to.
Here’s what mixing actually is: you mix because you want to fix things, and continuously improve the sound based on the feedback you get from hearing it. Mixing should not be done proactively, but reactively. Listen to your mix, your sound, and react to it by tweaking it to sound as you want it to sound.
Audio example: Here, I wanted to have a solo trumpet as a feature. After I wrote the trumpet in and placed it, I figured that it was too diffuse and too far out to the right to be somewhat of a feature (even if it sounds good, it was not what I wanted in terms of focus). Listen to this: