4 Reasons For Mixing At Lower Volumes

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Mixing at lower volumes may seem counter intuitive and boring, BUT this one mixing tip can get you great results! Here are 4 reasons why.

1. Better Perspective

Have you ever been listening to a song on the radio, or your headphones and turned it way up so you could hear everything? I’ve done it to. Louder is more fun!
What you may not have known is that if you REALLY want to hear everything that’s going on, turning it down would help you.
Now this isn’t practical for the every day listener, but for a mixing engineer it’s very useful.
Turning your mix down to a level where you can have a conversation with someone with out having to scream over the music can help you hear imbalances in your mix. Mainly volume imbalances.
For instance, I tend to mix my snare drums too loud compared to the vocals. So to make sure I don’t do this, I turn my mix WAY down, even to where you can barley hear everything else, and I listen to the balance between the snare and the vocal.
If the snare is obviously overpowering the vocal at that low volume, I will just turn it down a little. Simple.
This lower volume will also allow you to hear other volume imbalances with other instruments easily.

2. Don’t Fool Yourself

Everything sounds good loud. The problem with that as a mixing engineer is that you can fool yourself into thinking something sounds good when it really doesn’t solely based on the high volume you were listening at.
Drums are a perfect example of this. You can turn up a not so well mixed drum recording, and a lot of times it will sound big and punchy because it’s just loud. Where it falls apart in a mix, is when you listen to that same drum mix in context with the whole song in an everyday listening environment, and it doesn’t sound big and punchy anymore.
Just because it felt good loud, doesn’t mean you mixed it properly.
If you can mix the drums to be clear, big, and punchy at low volumes, I promise you they will sound that way at ANY volume consistently.

3. You Can Mix Longer

If you plan on being a mixing engineer and actually having paying clients, I’m sure you will run into deadlines.
This is a good thing. Deadlines make you get sH$% done!
If you can make mixing at low volumes part of your work flow, then you will be able to mix longer, and get more songs finished quicker.
This is a valuable asset to have that you and your clients will appreciate.
Even if you’re just mixing for your own band, having deadlines and getting work done is key to moving forward.
It’s always good to take breaks while mixing to give your ears a rest, but at low volumes you can do this less often.

4. Save Your Ears

This is the most obvious reason, but it’s true.

If you want to record and mix music for a long time as a hobby, or for a career, you need to protect you most valuable asset.

YOUR HEARING!

If you’re at live shows or any loud environment you will be in for a while, please wear earplugs.
I’m in a band and I’m constantly around other band’s shows. I will always wear some kind of ear protection, even if it’s sticking a little bit of toilet paper in my ears. It helps!

Final Thoughts

I’m not saying to never turn your mix up and enjoy it, or to mix at a slightly louder volume then what I say in this article, but this practice should be an everyday habit to get into.
I’ve heard it from professionals since I first started myself, and you can find this tip on almost every audio recording and mixing site out there.
It just works.
Try it out. It may take a little while to get used to, but the results will be well worth it.
Comment below and let me know your thoughts and how it worked for you.

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