My mix is too hot! What can I do?

With levels and automation I ended up with 2/3 db of headroom. I cant redo everything, is a trim plugin going to be fine or does it affect the overall quality of the mix?

Thanks in advance!

Where are you putting a trim plug…why not just turn down the stereo out?

Thanks Grim, trim is on master buss, but never used it before, so I wonder what the best procedure is for this problem.

In the pre section drop the gain on everything by 6-10db.

I start all mixes this way.

Also make use of k14 when mixing

How do you know if your clipping in k-14 k-20?
Always wanted to try k metering

You can use the input gain of your master. It is a level trimmer. Plugins on the master will be affected/could sound different (getting less gain).

You can also use the master fader itself. In this case plugins on the master won’t be affected.

To answer your actual question: yes, it will affect the quality of your mix (in a positive way) while clipping the master might ruin it :wink:

If you want to know more about level structures (aka ‘gain staging’), here’s a dude who explains everthing very good:

There’s a great noob series by John Christian on YouTube that may give you some pointers on how to fix your hot mix.

That’s fine at the beginning of a mix but could drastically change the sound of any dynamics plugins on a current mix.

Maybe quick link all channels and back them a few db lower? I wouldn’t quickfix this with trimming but reduce levels with quicklink so all the levels will hold their positions only a few db softer.

Select all and link to vca?

Group Busses Then Link and drop the levels.


The answer depends on a lot of things and on how you want it to SOUND.

You can lower the output volume by the faders. This will however do nothing to the dynamic range in your mix.

You may have compressed the different tracks, groups or the whole mix too hard. (or if you have used a limiter). If that is what is the problem you need to go into the mix and set the compression(s) to a lower ratio or a lower threshold. (same for limiters). This is a commonly source of a “too hot mix”.

Another source for a “too hot mix” could be drive or saturation or some other fx, being over used. Try lowering the levels.

If it is just a matter of volume you use the output slider or you set up your mix with group busses and lower the volume of each group. However you must check that it does not effect the reverb (depends on how you have set that up). VCA faders is another way of simplifying volume handling.

Perhaps the most common error is that each track (or group) is sent to the output bus where the sum distorts due to a too high volume of each track, and then a limiter is put on the output track to get it just below the distortion level. The answer is to remove the limiter, lower the volumes of tracks/groups, and then put the limiter back in.

This is a good article on the topic from Sound on Sound.

Gain Staging In Your DAW Software

Yes I know this technique, but is is important to do it at the beginning before setting fader volumes and panning.
In the case of the OP’er I assume he already done this, but the levels are still to hot, so backing the channels faders a bit seems the best step.

But if there are lots of automation on the individual tracks, it would be a lot easier to just route everything to a group.
VCA is a viable option if only audio tracks are used.

But if there are lots of automation on the individual tracks, it would be a lot easier to just route everything to a group.
VCA is a viable option if only audio tracks are used.

I Agree, your solution is more on topic (and the solution to the OP’s problem) as I only reacted on gain staging.

Seriously OP watch the excellent series link I posted on YouTube. Extrapolate what’s appropriate to your mix from the series and then remix your original mix. You’ll be much happier with the final result.
You can’t unbake a cake… Unless you’re really experienced with EQ!

I use the FabFilter Pro-L limiter for K-System metering; super simple.