Mixing Tips for Home Studios

by Frederik Nielsen, Feb 6, 2019 . 5 min read

Mixing Tips for Home Studios

Once you’ve read our guide on how to prepare for a mixing session, it’s time to get started. Here are some mixing tips for your home studio that will make your songs shine. This guide will go through the following:

Less is More

I’ve picked up a lot of wisdom from The Recording Revolution on YouTube. Among the many gems I’ve learned from Graham Cochrane is that less is more. Stick to the basics when mixing: Volume, EQ, and compression.

Volume

Adjust the volume for each track before adding any plugins at all. Pretend that you can only mix the song by adjusting volume. Try getting it as good as you can with just the faders.

Compression

Add some mild compression to the mix track. All your tracks will need some form of compression. Putting a compressor on the mix track will add that compression to all the tracks. But make it light. You’ll still be adding individual compressors to some or most of your tracks later. I prefer adding compression before EQ because it makes it easier to cut out the bad frequencies.

EQ

Use subtractive EQ first. Run across the frequency spectrum and identify the ranges that sound bad. Subtract a few dB from those ranges to get a cleaner sound. Whether or not you slap on another EQ to add some frequencies is a matter of taste.

Save Delay and Reverb for Last

Rockstars are made from reverb and delay effects. But they should be seen as the icing on the cake of your mix, rather than the cake itself. Reverb and delay is the glue that makes everything blend nicely. But since they make sounds longer, it will also make it more difficult for you to mix your song. Save reverb and delay for last, and then make some final adjustments.

Use a Reference Track

Professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered music sounds fantastic. The pros know what they’re doing, and there’s no shame in emulating what you hear. Find a good reference track in the same genre as your song. Drag and drop it onto the arrangement window, and compare your mix to the reference track regularly.

Listen to Your Mix On Multiple Systems

You’ll likely have a pair of monitors and a pair of headphones as part of your home studio. Those are great for getting the overall sound right. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that your listeners won’t have the same equipment. They’ll listen to your music in their car, on their fancy Beats by Dre, and their (gasp!) laptop speakers. You should do the same. Many regular speakers and headphones will cut frequencies from your mix mercilessly. If your mix hasn’t taken them into account, it just might get ruined. So take your precautions and listen to your mix on non-rockstar systems.

Always Experiment

Many of us get too comfortable once we’ve learned enough about audio engineering to get a half-decent mix. We get distracted by making songs and then applying the same old mixing techniques to all of them. The result is mediocre mixes. Although there are many rules of thumb you can use in all mixes, every song is unique. Every mix should be unique too. Play around to find out what a particular song needs. Experiment, look up tutorials and try something new. You just might go up a level.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Music is a social activity. Unless your sole ambition is to serenade the moon from your balcony, you should collaborate with others. It doesn’t have to be in the rehearsal room. Invite your friends over for a mixing session and stock up on some cold ones. Having other opinions can influence the way you mix and improve the result.

Mixing Can’t Fix Everything

You can’t turn a lousy recording into a great sounding mix. Sometimes you’ve got to return to the source. Here’s a list of problems a mix can’t fix:

The hard naked truth is that you’ll have to go back to the drawing table. And by drawing table, I mean recording station.

Finish Your Mix Tomorrow

It takes time to get a good mix. More time than you have today. Even if you’ve blocked out the entire day to mix your track, it won’t be done today. Sorry. Your ears will get tired as you spend hour after hour mixing. It’s good to take regular breaks, but it’s not enough. Do as much as you can, and then let it marinate until the morning. Listen with fresh ears, and give it the final polish.

 



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

Today we’re gonna talk about how to write a song on ukulele. Songwriting is a beautiful artform and the heart of the music industry. Without songs, there is nothing to be recorded, produced, streamed or sold.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 5, 2021 . 5 min read

Ever since its launch in May 2020, Roadie 3 received overwhelming support from publications, YouTubers,  social influencers, and musicians. With many of them expressing their thoughts on the next generation tuning device to their followers.

Hussein El Annan
Mar 26, 2021 . 6 min read

Today we’re going to talk about 6 instruments that are easy to learn for guitar players. Most of these are stringed instruments that feature a string arrangement somewhat similar to a guitar.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Mar 5, 2021 . 4 min read

It is important to know how to resolve nut ping. This issue can create tuning problems as well as audible clings or pings when you bend a string.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Feb 19, 2021 . 4 min read

What is a Neapolitan Chord? A Neapolitan chord is a major chord built on the flat second of a major scale. That is the simplest way to define it, but let’s expand on it.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Feb 8, 2021 . 4 min read

These 5 challenging ukulele songs will give you a run for your money. They might feature complex chords, trickier song structures, and more involved strumming patterns.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jan 18, 2021 . 4 min read

In this Beginners guide to pedalboards, we’re gonna help you navigate the sea of choices available.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jan 15, 2021 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!