And don’t tell me to use my ears. My ears are fine. I have 50 years old music listening experience going for me. I know what sounds “good.” I can listen to one of my mixes in 10 different systems and it sounds good. Yet if I listen to it against a reference track from a “pro” it may sound like garbage. My snare is way too thin. Or my kick is way too punchy. I use my ears but I also use meters. I even use Ozone tonal balance, which tells me my mix is well within the parameters of a high quality mix. I’ve got the LUFS dialed in. The mix is loud enough. Yet it’s still sounds like garbage. And don’t say it’s garbage in garbage out because I don’t make garbage and my recording equipment is high quality as are the instruments I’m using. My arrangements are not anything crazy. I just can’t seem to balance everything together. I eq, I pan, I compress, I don’t over compress, I don’t over limit, I’m not squashing the life out of the dynamics. Yet the thing still sounds …… amateur next to commercial music. So wtf am I doing wrong ??
Well nobody can answer that based on a text description - so maybe link to an example or two.
That said, here are some generic possible answers
- It sounds better than you think & you are being hyper-critical of yourself
- Your acoustic listening environment is messing things up
- Comparing apples & oranges - is one song mastered and the other not
- Arranging issues, e.g. sounds masking each other, unbalanced frequency distribution
- Sloppy or over quantized performances
- Uninteresting composition
You say when you compare it to a reference song it sounds like “garbage” - Instead comparing the two and evaluating your recording based on the reference, try flipping the comparison around the other way. Ask yourself what you prefer or like about the reference compared to your Track. And be super specific - for example, the mids sound more transparent; or the kick drum and bassline are really tight; whatever. Now those can be things that you go in and try to improve in your mix.
Keep in mind that mixing is both an art and a craft and they can each take decades to even approach mastering.
Great answer! Thanks so much for this. Should I just bite the bullet and pay someone else to mix and master my music?
Or you could post here or other sites to get specific and detailed feedback (not from me, I’m the kind of guy who asks for help mixing).
If you want to pay … there are commercial sites (Studio Pros) you can use, or you can post here and elsewhere to ask someone to mix/master for you.
Other options I’m sure too!
Kinda depends on your overall intentions. If all you want is a good sounding version of a song that’s probably the shortest path to get there.
Mixing (well audio engineering in general) is one of those things where you improve with experience. And if someone else mixes your song, you’re not gaining that experience.
What do you specifically dislike about the results you are getting now?
You are listening to MASTERS for the Ref and not mixes I would think.
You can check that inside of Ozone as well with the ref track.
Keep in mind those references you are listening too are going through a butt load of hardware most times and squashed to the ceiling.
I get what you are saying though and I feel your pain here.
I like what Rain said BTW, ask ourself what you LIKE about the reference and work to get those elements to match. Ozone won’t do that for you BTW. Even if you MATCH the EQ of the ref it still doesn’t take in the individual parts and their balance with each other
Someone asked me: do you like this person? I answered: she is indifferent to me. Why? I do not know her.
Your post looks like this. You ask: wtf am I doing wrong?? My answer is: I don’t know and what does it matter.
How do we know if what you’re doing is right or wrong if you don’t link one of your mixes.
If you post one of your mixes here, you will definitely get feedback and you will know what you are doing wrong according to the perception of others.
Come on don’t be shy and let us hear what you are doing wrong.