How To Mix Faster – Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

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Mixing fast takes practice, but you don’t have to be a seasoned vet to be able to mix fast.

What do I mean?
Well if you focus on all the small mixing choices on every single track, then it’s going to take you a while.
One thing I was taught early on was to know where you’re going before you even start mixing.
What I mean by that is have a game plan.
One of the best things you can do before you actually start mixing is to listen.
Listen to the whole song from start to finish and take mental notes on the direction you want to go in.

Which Way Do I Go?

What I was taught to do is make a decision early on which parts of the song are the most important.
For example, I would pick at least 3 elements of the song that stood out as “important’ tracks to highlight and make the center of attention.
99% of the time it would be the vocals, then maybe the drums if it was a rockin song, and maybe the Electric guitars.
If it was a more mellow song, maybe the vocals again, maybe the soft playing piano, and the bass guitar.
You catch my drift? I would decide stylistically what the artist was trying to convey, and where the song needed to go.
Does it need to be more ambient, or dry and in your face?
Do the drums need to be thunderous, or just a supporting role?
If you can decide “Big Picture” decisions early on, then you will know which way to go for each track along the way.
If you have the 3 main elements figured out, start mixing there in order of importance.
Once you’ve got the big picture elements sitting nice, then all the little small tweaks like fades, volume automation, etc..etc.. can be addressed.
These little small moves shouldn’t take long.
The heavy lifting was decided ¬†early on, and so you automatically knew things like how much reverb do you want or don’t want.
If you wanted to be ambient then you knew that you needed more reverb, and you didn’t have to go back and forth in your mind.
You made a decision and you went for it, and in the process saved time.
Sometimes I still find myself forgetting to do this, and I start mixing with no real direction.
These are the moments when the mix doesn’t come together and I’m spending hours on small moves that in the big picture no one will really even notice.
Be disciplined before each mix to figure out your plan, and it will save you lots of wasted time and frustration.
Leave a comment below, let me know your thoughts, and don’t forget to share!

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