Do you often find yourself mixing and wishing the vocals were more upfront, or the drums tighter? Or the entire mix just doesn't seem that tight. You've got a great song, played well by good musicians and recorded well, but the mix still feels a little sloppy.
Well, there's often an easy way to get more focused mixes.
What's even more surprising is that you can do it in a matter of seconds.
Turn down the reverb. Really? Yes, try it.
Reverb is a fantastic effect, but understanding exactly what it does can transform the way you think about using it. When you add reverb to an audio signal, it has the effect of smearing the sound. The more reverb you add, the more the sound you add it to loses focus and the more tracks you add it to then the more the whole mix loses focus.
Sometimes this can be the desired effect, but often it can stop a mix from hanging together, and sometimes people add more reverb thinking it acts like glue - it doesn't it has the same effect of added water to paint on a canvas.
Reverb guru and founder of Exponential Audio Micheal Carnes suggests that when mixing to add reverb and then pull down the return by around 3db, then it should be about right. Give that method a try and see how your mixes sound.
As said, this is not a complex theory, simply one that can often get overlooked, if not realised in the first place.
So if you are new to mixing and feel your mixes are not quite as focussed as you would like then give this a try and let us know how you get on.