Massive Mixes: Maintaining Clarity

It always seems like a tradeoff in mixing – do you want a massive wall of sound or a crystal clear mix?

But it doesn’t have to be. And it probably shouldn’t be. The best mixes are the ones that sound full and clear. But how can you do that, especially when you’re working with a lot of tracks?

There’s two things that are so simple – yet so many people overlook them.

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That’s right. Panning is one way to get massive mixes without having to sacrifice clarity. But people can often misinterpret this. It’s a problem when your pan knobs are only broken out 20-40% of the way. Spread it out! Use 100% of the stereo field to place individual items in the mix to add clarity and size.

For example, in Secrets of the Hits v1, we look at a Bruno Mars style track and see how far out the panning is – and it doesn’t even have that many tracks! Use this to your advantage.

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Again – it seems like common sense, right? But it isn’t. Here’s the biggest problem with EQ today:

People are afraid to carve out their tracks. They listen to it solo’d, say “wow, that sounds nice!” Then, they play the whole track and wonder why it sounds muddy.

Even if your tracks sound so nice when they’re solo’d out, you still need to carve out frequencies. You don’t have a lot of room in the low mid frequencies (200 – 500 Hz), so only have a couple of instruments really fill this out. Be pretty drastic with your EQ.

These common sense tips are things we all forget about from time to time. Want to get even deeper into making massive and clear mixes? Check out Nashville Metal In-the-box Mixing to see the amazing Chris Sy work through an insane metal track.

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