In a rut with your mix? Can’t find a way to change things up? Mixing is about creativity and my own recent case of writer’s block reminded me that it’s easy to have mixer’s block. Here are seven ways you can get over mixer’s block and come out with a new sound!
The biggest contributor to mixer’s block is the mentality of only one “right mix.” That’s the logical side of your audio work interfering with your creative side. It is here where the image of a conductor comes to mind.
A conductor guides the tempo of the orchestra. They control the volume of an overall song. They can even control a section of instruments. Now how many ways can a single piece of music be conducted? Two? Five? You can do the same!
The mixing board is like a giant instrument. While you might not have the ability to control the tempo, you do have a lot of control over the sound. The next time you are wondering what you can do differently with the mix, try these ten options.
- Start on the stage. Microphone choice and setup can play a lot into a sound. My free ebook on drum mic’ing covers several ways to mic a drum kit. What if you tried a different technique to get a new sound from the kit or just from the kick drum or the cymbals? What about amplifiers? How do you mic those? What if you changed the placement of the mic in front of the amp’s speaker cone?
- Strip it all down. A worn oak chest is best refurbished when you start by stripping off the old finish. Do the same with your instruments and effects. Set all your EQ’s back to the defaults and turn off all your effects. Slowly build the mix back but do it as if you couldn’t use effects at all. How has that mentality changed your mix?
- Add effects. For some of you, effects and possibly even EQ is uncharted water. Pick one instrument and look at ways you can change the sound. What if you gave that acoustic guitar a bit of delay? I use that method to give the sound of two guitars.
- Push the clouds away. A mix can suffer from having too much centered in the mid-range frequencies. Boost some of those highs and get those cymbals jumping out in the mix. Get those guitars ringing out bright and clear. Likewise, cut some of the midrange and lows.
- Put on your sunglasses. A mix can suffer from sounding too bright. Not only should you look at the overall mix of all songs but also the mix of the individual songs. For example, if you have two songs that are somber and contemplative in nature, they might not be the place for a bright happy sound. Cut the highs and see what that does for the feel of the song.
- Push different instruments throughout the song. For example, instead of leaving the volume levels alone push the lead instrument during an instrumental portion of the song. Consider making two instruments front and center to the mix, such as bass and guitar or guitar and djembe. Push the other instruments to the back of the mix.
- Watch youtube. My daughter likes looking for covers of popular songs on youtube. Yes, some are quite bad. Sometimes though, she comes across one that’s quite different and equally great in its own right. Use youtube as a source of inspiration. I know that song arrangement can make a big difference but you can get ideas of what other people are doing.
Got a case of mixer’s block? Use any of these seven techniques to give those songs a new sound.
Questions: How do you get over mixer’s block? How have you ever changed up a song? Thoughts?
image source = http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1342189