When is the fookin mix done?

I’ve always wanted to know the answer to this question. Maybe one of y’all can tell me. Because I sure the hell haven’t figured it out. I could keep monkeying with it until I grow old and gray and lose my hearing. Every time I think I’ve got it right—NOPE! The damn hi hats are too shrill… of there is too much sibilance …. or the vocal is too thin. BECAUSE EVERY TIME YOU FIX ONE THING IT REVEALS A PROBLEM WITH SOMETHING ELSE! And then when I finally have a decent mix I’ve carved the soul out of it and the overall level is now so low that I have to start all over again! It seems the more I mix the worse it gets! Does it ever end or am I in eternal mixing hell with this bloody song???

The only advice I would give you is to do your final mix with fresh ears. I’ve noticed when I have balanced a mix after working at it for hours then listen the next day with fresh ears the balance is often wrong. :grinning:


Perfection does not exist in this wonderful world of mixing. There are only better engineers with better ears, better judgment or decision-making, with better equipment and tools than others.

We have to accept our limitations and the results we get in the moment, but it’s never final. We have to work hard to improve and always hope to do better.

It’s common to re-listen to a mix made a few years ago and realize that in some places I would do things differently today. But that was the way I heard and perceived the mix then. We can correct things ad vitam aeternam without ever being satisfied…

Give a song to ten different engineers and you’ll have ten different mixes, which one will be the best? It’s all just a matter of taste. Your mix may already be very good, but no one can judge it, because there is no file attached so that we can give you any opinion.

I am sending you these links of mixes that I have done and on this site you will have the possibility of hearing dozens and more of the mixing of these pieces made by other apprentices in this world of mixing by doing a search for the title of the piece on the site… You will hear all kinds of super interesting results and others less according to your own perception. Also take the time to read this site, you will learn a lot and have a lot of fun too


Good luck in your endeavor.



I feel your pain bro


The actions you take to mix a song basically fall into two broad categories 1) Corrective and 2) Artistic. And while it is normal to jump back and forth between the two over the course of a Project it is useful to focus on the corrective first. So when I start I want to listen to every Track (or section) and decide what, if anything, needs to be done so the Track doesn’t sound bad. I’m not looking to make it sound good, at this point all I want to do is find and remove bad stuff.

In your example where the sibilance became noticeable after changing another Track, that sibilance was always there and just being masked by the other Track. By finding and fixing that sibilance at the start it will make it easier to fit into the mix later on. This is also where Solo is super useful so you can hear the naked sound warts and all. In contrast later on when I am focused trying to make a Track sound good I will hardly ever use Solo because ‘good’ is only meaningful in the context of the mix it is in. A common beginners misstep is to Solo a Track and spend time polishing it so it sounds great alone only to discover it doesn’t work at all in context.

A bit of studio advice I heard years ago regarding EQ was to Cut to correct and Boost to change and while this isn’t a universal truth - it is a good starting point for thinking about EQ.

Totally agree & then some. When I’m working on a final mix I will only listen to it two, maybe three times before taking a short break (10-ish minutes) not only to clear my ears but also to stop thinking about the song altogether - kind of reset both your hearing and thinking. Check your messages, make a snack, walk the dog, etc. Then when you return to the audio it is easier to assess it more accurately.

And when doing detailed corrective work where critical listening is important I’ll break it up into even smaller chunks - work for 12 minutes, step away for 90 seconds. Repeat as needed. The idea is that you want to always be evaluating what you are working on with fresh ears. The timing will of course very between folks, but it’s good to figure out what works for you.

Some other misc. thoughts

The musical arrangement plays a big role in how easy/hard a piece will be to mix.

On your VSTi’s try using the Stereo Combined Panner instead of the Stereo Balance Panner which will let you set the stereo width of each Instrument. Lot’s of presets are designed more to show off the Instrument than sit nicely in a mix (imo). They have a lot of stuff going on across the whole panorama and sound fantastic in isolation. But you get three or five of these going - each one basically saying “the spotlight belongs on ME” - and the end result is mush. Narrowing the panorama makes it easier to separate and tame the different Instruments.

When I’m narrowing in on a final mix I like to listen to it and pay attention to where my ear is drawn to all the way through. Whenever I find a gap with nothing really being the focus at that moment I try to figure out what can done so there is a focus point - maybe a cool little sound, or a delay repeat, or…?

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I really appreciate all the insights . I’ve struggled with it again today. Mainly with the male vocal. there is a resonance somewhere in the spectrum that I cannot figure out exactly where it is. I’ve tried sweeping bell curves in different areas and placing several in succession but they don’t resolve the problem. It seems I have to use two or three different bell curves nearby frequencies to get it somewhat under control. I’ve also tried multibrand compression. But it’s so incredibly difficult to get the vocal smooth without the annoying frequencies .

I am sure you do this, but a high pass filter set to 200kh or thereabouts with a 6% slope. That will help remove most of the low frequency resonances. You might then want to look at the 300 - 600kh area the lower mids and then the upper frequencies around about 5000 an above.

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I should add here, I listen to my mixes in multiple environments. That said, I’ve learned through trial and error and frustration that the car system is the most brutally honest and hardest to master for due to the cavernous nature of it. On a decent system it will reveal the worst parts of your mix to the point of nausea. It will also reveal if your bass is too boomy or hollow, etc. I’ve also learned that a lot of it comes down to honesty with myself. Example: a ways back I played one of my songs for my wife in our Rav4. It sounded like an amateur band playing in a bathroom. Good Lord. My response? “Ugh, our car stereo system sucks, so you can’t really hear the good stuff.” Ha ha. But later that week one day I was stuck in the parking lot sitting in the car while my wife did some shopping. I decided to listen to some songs on Spotify that I know have superb mixing (like Bruno Mars 24k and Weeknd I can feel it coming). Holy crap. Those songs sounded INCREDIBLE on our car system! Every frequency represented, warm, crisp, punchy, and not boomy! On the stereo’s default settings! That’s when I realized I was full of BS. I was in denial. Our car stereo wasn’t crap: MY MIXES WERE CRAP. It was a huge wake up call. Now I’ve been spending tons of times doing what you guys have said to do and experimented with different mixes and processing and listening to everything in the car. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have learned. Keep the great wisdom coming! By the grace of God I AM going to finish this bloody song SOON!!! :smiley:


Let us give you a hand. Put your song here on the site. It will be our pleasure to give you feedback. Where you have achieved beautiful and good things or where you should improve certain aspects of your piece, you will know all of this.

Take the chance. Hope we can help you soon!