THE 3 FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A PROFESSIONAL MIX
When you spend hours or days mixing the same track, it's easy to get lost and start asking yourself if your work is any good. Mixing is not just a technical process, but one intertwined with taste and the ability to create a product that hits the listener emotionally: in one word, the "WOW" effect.
As far as we are concerned, the recipy to mix or assess an Online Mixing is based on 3 fundamental parameters: Character, Depth and Definition.
We believe the Mix's character is all you need to get an interesting timbre in every element: it really depends on the genre, and to get it just right you need a good knowledge of the music you're working with (by listening to a lot of records) and a set of technical skills to get the perfect sound.
What usually allow us to give character to a Mix are the choices in saturation, the kind of machines used (emulations and more) in the equalization and compression phases, and the type of ambients. For instance, when we listen to a well produced record from the '60s, '70's or 80's, we instantly get the decade it's from, because all the good productions from the same time period follow the same steps, creating an unmistakable Sound, that goes beyond the execution and the composition.
The depth is possibly the most complicated element in a Mix. Depth means giving the track the right dimension and room the breath. For instance, when we listen to a kick or some orchestral floor toms that move the right amount of air on the Subs we feel like they're in front of us, or when we listen to different instruments playing in unison but from different places, they give us a great sense of reality. Depth is extremely important in the emotional component of the track, because it's what makes us appriciate the elements in the music as if we where with the band, giving us an idea of the room the music is being played in, and the place every musician occupy in that space. To reach said depthness, the most obvious elements are the reverbs and pans (left, right, center), but often the equalization plays a fundamental role as well, since it lets us decide on what tonal register every element in the Mix must be expressed.
As we mentioned previously, the hardest part in giving depth to a Mix is that it depends on the equipment: the tracking has to be good, but the control room (room and monitors) has to also be good, otherwise without a good frequency and reverb monitoring it becames really hard to evaluate what's really happening in a Mix.
Definition in a Mix may be the most obvious element, but it has to be looked at with the right perspective: making everything audible isn't always the best line of thinking to get definition. A track it's an ensamble of elements being played, but not all of them always have the same priority. To get a good definition, you need a good composition, meaning thinking the elements in the Mix as things to alternate or overlap, so they have to be arranged to sound good before the Mixing stage. Then, you need to decide a hierarchy of the elements, to get an idea of what needs to be in the forefront and what needs to be in the background, to fill in the gaps. This preliminary process is very important for the definition in a Mix, because it's going to automate the decisions regarding what's going to occupy the lower range of the track, what's going into the percussive range, and what into the melody. With such a clear idea of the structure of your track, you can use Equalization, Compression and of course the good old Volume, to create a well-defined Mix, since you've already decided what's going to pop in your mix and what's just there to fill in the gaps.
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