I am quite a novice and lnexperienced at all this so I’m sure my question is probably quite basic. I know about reverb and EQ and making sure the original source isn’t harsh sounding, but still it appears a mix with lots of instruments as I balance the volume against each other is starting to sound harsh. Any advice for fixing this especially at the overall mixing or mastering stage would be greatly received. Are there any filters or special techniques of things I need to look for? many thanks
Some sounds need to be compressed. For example, instruments with a percussive “attack” like a piano or xylophone, when loud enough to push through the mix, the peaks become very loud to the ears. Try reducing the dynamic range with a compressor in these cases. Of course compression is useful for drums also but because they are lower frequencies they don’t typically cause as mush fatigue to the ears when the peaks are louder (although the snare certainly can have a greater effect than toms and kick).
Anyway, compression might help.
You could try a little eq. Insert eq on the master track. Use a peaking filter. First boost somewhat around 4k and sweep till the harshness is worse. Then reduce that freq. The q factor determines if it is a broad or a narrow region you are reducing. Set it is small as is still effective.
Or listen to the harshness is try to decide what instrument is causing it. Then apply the same eq trick to that instrument only.