Missing That High Definition Clarity In Your Mixes? Try This!

As I was mixing an EP for a client yesterday, it crossed my mind that I was missing some clarity and definition in my mixes.

They all sounded floppy, boxy, and dull. I just wasn’t feeling it, I guess.

So as I thought about what to do, I decided to try two simple things.

And it blew my mind – my mixes went from dull, boring tracks to clear, hi-def master mixes. Here’s what I did:

I was messing around with a few faders and pulled out all of the reverb. Even though the tracks were supposed to be on the ambient side, there was simply too much reverb. Once I pulled the fader down, my mix started to get clearer and clearer.

This was almost the entire issue – the reverb was taking up way too much space in the mix. It was too loud.

So I turned it down about 4 dB, but it still sounded a little jumbled. Since I knew the problem was with the reverb, I decided to try fixing the reverb sound. By placing an EQ on the Reverb Return Aux channel, I was able to carve out the low frequencies in the reverb.

It instantly cleared up the entire problem with the mix. I added a 3 dB boost at 3 kHz and cut everything below 300 Hz, and the mix instantly got clearer.

Now, there are a lot of reasons why you might be struggling with gaining clarity in your mix, but this is one of the things you can try when you feel like your mixes are just too muddy and dull. Especially with ambient tracks, you’d be surprised what a little EQ on your reverb return channel can do!

Give it a shot in your mix and you’ll be amazed at how much it can really clear up any muddiness!

3 thoughts on “Missing That High Definition Clarity In Your Mixes? Try This!”

  1. Hi there… Speaking of clarity… I am mixing on a MacBook Pro with mostly stock plugins in Protools..I aspire to get that HD quality and the mixes seem to fall short… I realize my own limitations but… there must be advantages to using better tools? I’ve been working with limitations for 2 years and feel as though I’ve outgrown my basic gear setup..any input would be greatly appreciated… You guys ROCK… Thanks for sharing your gifts… Gary…

    • Hey Gary! Thanks so much for reading! This is something that pros go back and forth on all the time – what gear is necessary to make great recordings and mixes.

      while a great piece of gear never hurts, it really isn’t *absolutely necessary* to have in order to make great music. Depending on the year your MBP was made in, you’ve probably got a great production computer that will be able to handle a lot. Basically it comes down to “how you use the tools” rather than “the tools that you use.”

      That being said, there is *definitely* something to be said for having a little more gear and computer. Having just upgraded my home studio setup with a new computer and a few new plug-ins, it’s amazing how much better (I think) the music is that I’m working on. I know the frustrations of working with limitations (I was running Cubase SE on a single-core 1.9 GHz Dell Inspiron laptop with a 125 GB hard drive for the first several years of my home recording career – many moons ago!), and having gear that takes those limitations away is certainly liberating.

      I would figure out what it would mean for you to upgrade – if you feel that you’re reaching the point of being limited creatively by your gear, it might be time to do it. Let us know if you would like any help/recommendations on what to upgrade!

      Thanks again for reading, Gary – glad to have you as a reader!

      • Hi Adan… It is you that I must thank for all that you do. My mixes through many repetitions are getting better. My current gear is a Digidesign 003 LE with PT 9 on a MacBook Pro. I’ve got good monitors A&B, and a well treated room. Some good outboard gear and decent mics. I’m looking at a iMac 3.4ghZ quad core as my host, and wonder where my buck would be best invested at this point? I would love to go PT HD but I may have to wait for a bit for that upgrade. Any suggestions you can make.to help me is greatly appreciated. Again thank you for the tireless effort you put into making better music for all of us… Much Rhythm Luv …. Gary…

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