Sharooz's top 10 tips for maximising your mixes
Producer, DJ and artist in his own right, Sharooz is someone who knows how to make a mix sound good. As such, the opportunity to read his top tips for creating a track that has that 'pro finish' is one that you'd be a fool to pass up.
So let's hear what the man has to say: it might just change the way you think and work when you're in the studio.
Process the mix buss sparingly
"There's a great temptation these days to reach for the multiband compressor or limiter to give your track an instant gloss. However, it's important to ensure your actual mix is solid in the first place. If buss processes are dramatically altering the sound of the mix, then I'm afraid you're doing something wrong. They should serve simply to glue things together, not change the entire fabric of the track."
Reduce bass for maximum loudness
"If your mix is too bassy, you're compromising volume. It may be difficult to fully hear what's going on in the 20-80Hz range if you're not using a sub. Check your mixes on a system with good accurate bass reproduction and make sure your kick tails aren't overly long or boomy as these often go unnoticed and get in the way of the bassline."
Get another pair of ears on the mixdown
"Whether it's something as simple as turning the vocals down a notch, or fine-tuning EQ, it's often easy to overlook critical elements if you're the only person privy to your creations. Take a few days away from the mix, then pull the original track back up to check if it still sounds as powerful as it did when you first began. Get a friend to listen too."
Check your mix on various systems
"Every monitor has a different characteristic and unique detail can be picked up from even the poorest quality speakers. If you make club music, checking mixes on a big rig or PA is a must. For vocal tracks and general balancing, a flat, no-frills monitor such as the classic Yamaha NS-10M is a valuable tool."
Leave the mastering to the pros
"It's good practice to use a properly trained engineer to master your track. Strip any excess limiting or multiband compression from the mix and allow the mastering engineer to rebuild the process using their own tools. Even if you're convinced you've got the best possible sound, a little added sparkle never goes amiss. Besides, pro mastering has never been cheaper or more accessible, with some of the finest studios offering great rates."
Less is more
"Generally speaking, the fewer elements in the mix, the more punch and volume they yield. With the mass of plug-ins and soft synths currently available, there's never been a greater temptation to whack on multiple parts. Trimming the fat will help you focus on creating more unique and memorable elements, as well as making it easier on the final mixdown."
Give each instrument its own place
"In particular, pay attention to the midrange as this is where most of the clutter occurs. Using subtractive EQ will guide you well. Unnecessarily long reverbs can also cloud things. Add effects sparingly - ask yourself if the part really needs it and if so, how much does it really need to get the desired tone?"
Pay attention to the arrangement
"Break your tune down to its sparsest form and layer on parts to check if every element is doing its job. Remove parts that clash rhythmically. With multiband compression now commonplace, try to evaluate the impact this will have on the sum of parts."
"The biggest club tunes always retain a keen sense of dynamics. Try it for yourself in your arrangement - going from a quiet or silent portion into an all-guns-blazing rhythmical assault usually does the trick and works wonders on the dancefloor!"
Use a reference
"Open your favourite tracks and carefully scrutinise their mix on your system. Try and steer clear of overusing spectrum analysers to evaluate a mixdown but focus instead on using your ears to check what's what!"
Liked this? Now read:How to make your music loud
Get MusicRadar straight to your inbox: Sign up for the free weekly newsletter