I have been wrestling with mixing for a long time. I can write songs, play instruments and get ideas down in my DAW, but I'd been really struggling when it came to mixing. To begin with, I'd been building up my ability really slowly over a long time, but I never really understood what I was doing, and I'd pretty much been winging it. I could get mixes that I liked when I played them REALLY LOUD, but when I listened to them at conversation level they sounded like crap. Mud city.
I didn't understand what compressors did (they compress the sound, right?) or how they worked. I'd generally grab a preset and twiddle the knobs a bit, hoping for the best. I knew what EQ did but had no idea how to use it properly. I could use reverb and delay (who can't), but tended to overuse them to try and compensate for the overall crappy sound of the mix.
It got to the point where I was getting totally bummed out by the whole thing, to the point of not really wanting to try and record stuff cos it would never get to where I wanted it to be.
A couple of days ago I posted a mix in the Rate My Mix sub forum. Listening back to it, it sucks ass big time. There's no definition to any instrument, the vocals (which are only guide vocals but nonetheless) just don't sit right, there's no balance to the sound. When I was mixing it, it was super frustrating because I'd adjust the level of, say, the snare, only to have to adjust something else to compensate, which eventually turned into having to adjust everything to compensate for something. Then I'd have to start over. I could get stuff to sound really good on its own, but it'd be totally lost when other stuff came in.
The problem was I had no idea how to go about mixing. Right down to the simplest thing of preparing the mix after tracking. I'd try to mix as I was tracking, adding compressors and EQing along the way. The most fundamental basics of mixing I just didn't get.
So what's the point of this post? I presume I'm not the only person in this situation. I'd considered doing a course in sound engineering but a) I don't have the money, and b) I don't really want to be a sound engineer, I just want to know how to mix my own stuff to a reasonable standard. So i scoured the internet for video tutorials about how to mix. There's a good bit of stuff on youtube, but nothing really comprehensive.
Then I came across Lynda.com. There's a video course on the website called Audio Mixing Bootcamp. Turns out that you have to be a member to watch all the videos in the course, which is actually just under 9 hours of video. The thing is it's only $25 for a month's subscription. I am so happy that I got it. Seriously. Over the last couple of days I've been working my way through the tutorials and am nearly done. I've been working on a new mix for the song I posted before in tandem with watching the tutorials which really opened my eyes. I can practically apply the stuff I'm learning as I go. And the mix already sounds livelier, punchier, clearer, more balanced...
I've read a bunch of mixing tutorials on t'internet before, but putting the theory into practice without visual or audio aids was unbelievably difficult, nigh on impossible in my case. I had a sort of vague sense of what I should be doing, but it was almost like the little bit of info I had made it even more daunting. The Lynda.com tutorials are really easy to understand and follow, totally demystify all the elements of mixing, are logical, and, as far as I'm concerned, fairly exhaustive. They go from the very basics of separating your tracking from your mixing, to laying out and building your mix, to panning, to using compression, to EQ, to effects, to balancing the final mix. Plus, the dude is working on a track as he goes through it so there are the visual and audio aids.
So yeah, if anyone is in the same situation as I was, definitely give it a look. I've done real world courses before. I did one on web design and it was awful. Really slow and full of morons who couldn't get their head around really simple stuff, or just wanted to hear their own voice. With this I could go at my own pace and even listen back if I missed something. Plus, as I said, being able to apply the stuff practically to the mix I'm working on is amazing. Feels good, bro. And it's only, like, €20. Alright, it's not free but how much is a fecking real world course? And, for me anyway, the value of it is far far far above what it cost. Finally understanding mixing, something I've been battling with forever, is the greatest feeling in the world.
Just to say, the dude in the videos is working with Protools, but the stuff he's doing applies to any DAW. Also, I'm not affiliated at all with the website , just really, really satisfied with my experience.