If you are anything similar to me, then you are probably looking for mixing and mastering tips and tutorials constantly. You are trying to take your music to the next level and want your records to sound like the pros, right?
But for whatever reason, we will ignore the good advice that can help us and instead we will take advice from anyone and everyone who puts it out there and what we want to hear. I can relate, because I am very similar.
How did you get that snare to pop?
Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend about a common question I get asked a lot: “How do you get your snares to pop?” I always cringe when they ask me that because the answer is truly anticlimactic and nothing remotely close to what they were expecting.
The way I’m able to get that great sound is that it wasn’t from drum samples, it wasn’t a cool new plugin, and it wasn’t even through EQ or compression. The reality is that I got that snare sound because that’s just the way it was recorded. Boring, I know.
It was about finding the sweet spot with the microphone and the snare drum and finding the best spot that those two things played well together. I had to fall in love with the sound and I knew I was there. Remember, that mixing and mastering does start with the source material.
For most people, you are probably mixing your tracks or at the very least, it’s music that you’ve recorded. So if that’s what the case is, then you are in luck. So the best mixing and mastering advice, I could give, is just to record material that sounds great from the start.
Make sure that you are recording drum sets that sound good, that have new heads and are in tune. Make sure your acoustic guitars have fresh new strings and sound like you want the finished product to sound like.
Video on Tuning Drum Heads:
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I know the advice I am giving, sounds pretty obvious but the truth is that most people don’t even both doing it. I know because I don’t do it sometimes either. I honestly should know better, but I still put op some microphones, press record and then I think to myself “Ah, I’ll just fix it in the mix.” It’s probably just in our human nature to do that because I talk to a lot of people, and they all seem to be doing the same thing. We want to fiddle with sounds for hours rather than take the time to record something truly memorable from Day 1.
Action Steps for Better Mixing and Mastering
Remember that the first thing that’s the most important is to focus on the microphone selection and the room position when recording. Get a great sound and your mixes will thank you later.
Next, you need to do a little work to get the instruments to sound good. Tune them up properly, use fresh strings and replace the drum heads if necessary. You can’t compromise on a great sounding instrument.
Lastly, stop over processing! I can’t say that enough. I see too many people get GREAT recordings, but then their mixing and mastering falls short because of their Overuse of plugin processing. Focus on the balance and vibe of the music and your tracks will sound better before you know it.
Some more mixing tips straight from a mastering engineer…