This article is going to list the mistakes I used to make when I was young in my mixing workflow. Over the years I have found these mistakes to be common with many inexperienced mixers. I feel it is just as important to learn new tips and tricks as it is to recognise mistakes that have quietly developed in one's workflow. Autopilot mistakes can do a lot of harm to the music you work on and if not dealt with then these following mistakes can be difficult to break in the future.
Not Preparing Your Mix
This is often overlooked by so many. Inexperienced mixers generally jump straight into a mix, ignoring the preparation process as they want to start being creative with levels and effects. Preparing a mix session provides a solid base from which to navigate a mix from. An experienced mixer will always have their sessions setup to look and operate in the same way so that every project has a familiarity to it. This limits confusion to the mixer when moving around the music.
Inexperienced mixers need to develop their own project feel by using coloured tracks, memory locations, names, plug-in directories and session templates. Having these choices established in a templated workflow will mean the creative aspect of mixing can be more immediate and intuitive. There are no rules to making a unique mix layout, as long as it works for you.
You can find a more in-depth article I wrote about this topic here
Not Taking Regular Breaks
Taking breaks from mixing is a discipline that we all need to remember to uphold. Being able to step away from all the mixing choices and creative ideas gives our ears and intuition a chance to relax. I find it very useful to give myself a short 5 minute break outside of my mix room every half hour. This means that every time I re-approach the mix I can truly judge and critique my work so far. Save time fixing mistakes caused by fatigue.
Using Too Many Plug Ins & Effects
I mix with a lot of mindsets, the main one being plug-in count. How many plug-ins do I need? Well, if I see that I have machine-gunned my mix window with an uncountable amount of plug-ins I have to stop and ask myself “Do I really need all of these?” To answer that question I have to start bypassing things so that I can compare before and after.
Not Trusting Your Creative Instincts
Remember, first and foremost… mixing is a creative process. Try to avoid micromanaging some of the smallest aspects of a mix in the early stages. This can hurt the overall framing of the mix and the music. The clarity of the full picture cannot be realised this way. Don’t get me wrong, small edits and subtle features do need to be discovered in a mix but generally they should be incorporated towards the end of a mix process.
Music is all about instinct, don’t ignore yours.
Not Knowing How & When To Finish A Mix
When does an artist know when to put down their brush? The age old question that has many answers. In truth, artists don’t really know themselves. I find if I cannot trust my final mix judgement then I will end up putting one or two days distance between myself and the song in question. This always provides me with fresh perspective that often gets subdued through a mix process.
We all make mistakes but it's no problem if we have identified them and corrected our methods. Let's hear some of your own past or present mistakes in your mixing workflow.