Fear of small sounds
Are you afraid of using small sounding elements in mixing? Stop turning your head and looking so clueless. I know that you are. The usual ego shit steps into music just as often as it takes place in other areas of life.
Bigger, better, fucker.
About sums it up, hey? Especially with today’s in your face production style. But the truth it this: it’s horrible. It all starts with pushing up that exciting rhythm guitar just a tad higher. Then you of course need to do the same with the lead vocals, just to make sure you can still hear and understand every word. Ahh okay, it’s pop music, so forget about understanding. You also compress it harder, cause it just sounds even louder that way. I know that punchy is the word for it, but n00b I am not (thanks, Yoda). Then the horror hits the fan, along with giant piles of rhino shit. That means the bass line gets lost under this midrange gob you just created. So up goes the bass level, too. But uh oh! Now we need to do something with the drums ASAP, because man they’ve lost all of their power! WTF!
If you know these problems, I have good news for you. It’s curable. But it’s gonna take precious decisions. You also have to learn to let the thirst for large things go (yes, you too, gals).
Levels are king
Sure, I just have to EQ the living, throbbing shit out of it, right? Hi-pass, lo-pass, compass, jackass, all these buttons and knobs I like to tinker with… I’m all safe. Well, don’t hurry, pal. Before you dive in with your EQ arsenal to save your mess with creating another one, think about it a bit. Visualize it. Sounds are big piles of feces. Sort of. Or hills. Whatever. Even if they are very large, they protrude at one point. It means the lower they arise from, the smaller their width are. Which in turn means, the lower you pull down their faders, the smaller frequency range they’re gonna take up. It works pretty good, especially in the midrange. And you didn’t have to take out your EQ. Admittedly, the bass might need some trickery, but still, your first step is to get a reasonably good balance with the levels.
The bottom of the hills
So what’s with the bottom of those, right? Well, once you got your levels where you like ’em, you can remove those. Just so they free up some headroom for you. Again, it’s the mids where it’s the most important to learn to let go of the big (egos). You really don’t need much low end on those guitars, keyboards, vocals or horns. All that low end is just a bottom of one of those smelly piles. Where does art comes into play in all this? Well, you have to pick the most attractive limited range of frequencies that you do allow to remain intact, on all of these piles. In fact, you might even want to boost these. Or compress the heck out of them. Or distort them like a champ. It’s color enhancement. Got it?