How to make your music sound better?

9 nuggets to make your mixes sound better. 

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Have you ever realised your track can sound better after arrangement is finalised? You are not alone.

To reach a better final sound depends on various decisions all along the process. We recently went through a checklist to keep in mind before getting all confused about it. 

We created this list for our producers and team but whenever you find yourself in this situation, come here and have a look at this checklist.

  • + Listen to the Mix Everywhere 
  •  
  • Perspective is what you most need to understand how your mix translates in different environments. Go ahead and listen it everywhere, from headphones to pro monitors, earphones to computer speakers. 

You will see that all of these different sources show a different problem area on your mix. Smaller sources tell more about the bass and detailed speakers will let you know mid-hi clarity. When you start hearing a decent, balanced sound in different sources, you are on track.

+ Reference Other Tracks
 
After the arrangement, you have to know what your track should sound like. It is rarely a good idea to improvise during the mix. It can easily go wrong and kill the track.
 

What about a few reference tracks? Yes. Sound perception is easily altered after working for a few hours, a reference track will be your north star when you are lost. Find a few tracks, possibly with similar frequency balance you would like to reach and go back to them any time you are lost. 

+ Not Every Element is Important the Same Way
 
We all make this mistake, 2 or 3 instruments competing with each other for attention. That by itself kills the mix. 
 
You have to be brave to make your decision what is most important in different sections of the track. It can change throughout the piece but it better be only one instrument being the most important.
 
Believe me it is easier and more natural like this. This will make clear what is not really that important as well so you will stop pushing them in the mix and place them where they should be.
 
+ Tonal and Frequency Balance
 

I am not a fan of numbers and graphs during the mix at all. Though there is one place where this makes total sense.

The frequency and tonal balance of your final EQ should have a downward flat line outlook or something close. When you look at the final EQ and see a mid bump (very popular), low highs or extreme bass then you should go back to your singular elements and make necessary cuts.

The picture below is a good look on a final sound.

+ Always Hear within the Mix

One major mistake we all make is to listen to sounds solo and making decisions. Don’t do this.
 

Always hear your adjustments in the mix and make decisions while listening to the whole mix. How an instrument sounds alone does not matter at all, what matters is what happens when everything comes together. 

+ Avoid Bass in Sides
 
Mid-side balance will turn out to be more important than you think. There is different things to consider but one of them stand out big time.
 
Cut all the bass, even low mids on side channels. This makes a big difference balancing the spectrum and this balance is necessary for any healthy mix.
 
+ Use Delay or Envelope tool to Avoid Attack Peaks
 

Attack peaks are problematic for reaching a flat mix. First example that comes to mind is kick – bass conflict. 100 hertz bump is what you have to avoid in all cases.

As it is easy to put all instruments at the same time on top of each other, these attack peaks are regular. Go over these and use micro delays to flatten these peaks. For example give couple millisecond delay to bass to avoid the kick conflict.

+ Move On Fast, Don’t Get Stuck 

Easier said than done *) 

I have seen hundreds of song died when people get stuck on something in the mix for hours and make multiple wrong decisions. Make adjustments fast and move forward. If you are not happy you can come back later with a clear mind and ear.

Also keep in mind, focusing on tiny things is the least productive thing you can do. Make major moves and avoid getting stuck.

+ Your Decisions Matter

You are the boss of your music.

At the end of the day, you will decide how things should sound while keeping in mind the facts of a healthy mix. Select your references smartly and make adjustments to move towards reaching your tracks potential. 

I wish these 9 nuggets help you reaching a better sound.

Peace!

Ozgur @ Rast Sound

Ozgur @ Rast Sound

Ozgur is the co-founder @ rastsound.com

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