Over analysis in mixing

Over analysis can and does happen in many areas of life. Audio is no exception. It can mean anything from buying overpriced equipment to get into a never ending project of treating a room. Only to make miniscule changes in sound, ones that are not even always positive. However, over analysis in mixing music is a special case. And it’s mainly a case of unsureness and insecurity in one’s skills, knowledge and engineering abilities. So how does it usually develop? And what are the ways to avoid it? Cause you have to avoid it for sure. Like the black plague, my friend.

Over analysis in mixing

It can start as a banal thing. Over analysis can occur when you hear something that you think should not be there. Or when it should be there, but you find it being too much in its current state. For a concrete example, let’s say that we happen to find a certain harshness in a lead vocal track. In an otherwise over analysisperfect, in tune lead vocal track. So what can we do? Instead of trying to fit it into the mix, and make the mix as a whole sound as good as possible, we can start equalizing the track like crazy. And I mean EQing the soloed track. We will find that cutting a good amount of mids (for example around 2kHz) with a bell curve will somehow make it sound tamer and more hi-fi overall. With that move, we have effectively eliminated the character of the vocal track. We have destroyed its leading edge, if you will.

Over analysis in mixing

And over analysis can get even worse, when you start checking a frequency analyzer for high peaks, and start cutting them one by one. What are they? Root notes and harmonics. Now you push up the over-EQd track again, this time in the context of the rest of the music. And I can guarantee you, it will sound much worse. Over analysis leads to an endless stream of wanting to fix things that don’t need to be fixed. What leads to it? The fact that you are a mixing engineer, so you think you are supposed to use all of your tools in every single project. In reality, all you need to do is allow the things that sound good to be shown. And if you think that some aspects of the music don’t sound good enough, try to fix it in context of the whole. Never on its own.

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