You might know the feeling…you’ve been working on a new set of tracks and you’re sure that it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. This is surely going to be your best work yet, but when you get to the recording stage something just isn’t quite right. All of the parts are played tight, vocals are on point and everything has been recorded the way you wrote it. So why isn’t it all coming together? Why doesn’t it sound quite right?
If you find yourself in this situation, chances are you need a professional mix engineer.
In the land of home recording it’s quite common to unwilling become a jack of all trades, so to speak. First comes the writing, then the arranging, recording, mixing, and finally the mastering.
Whilst it is fine and often beneficial to gain a grounding in some basic mixing and even mastering techniques, if you are serious about releasing your music and having it compete with best selling artists then we recommend using qualified professional for areas that you are not fully skilled in.
With that in mind, here are the 5 most common signs that you might want to hire a mix engineer to help ring your tracks together…
#1 – the tracks sounds messy and cluttered
The most common pitfall for home recording artists, although a cluttered and messy mix is often a sign that you have too much going on in the first place. Whilst it isn’t the job of the mix engineer to start removing parts or telling you to remove certain sounds or instruments, they will decide if a certain sound has a prominent place in the mix. Often, you may have a certain line or hook that you think should be prominent in the mix, but when the mix engineer returns the first draft you find that it’s taken a back seat (and in some cases may be almost non existent). Put your ego aside and trust in your engineer – if you have spent time researching and found a reliable producer with credentials then let them use their expertise and trust them.
#2 – you’ve lost sight of the original vision for the song
Think back to the very first time you wrote the song or came up with the idea. Chances are it will have been in a very different form then? Can you remember how you imagined the song coming together in your head at these early stages? If you have been toiling with a mix for days or weeks then you can become too engrossed in this process and lose sight of your original intention for the track. The best way out of this unfortunate situation is to take a step back and let a fresh set of eyes and ears loose on your song – choosing a professional mix engineer here is a wise move!
#3 – you don’t like the song anymore
Also especially common with bands who labour over a song so many times in the practice room they eventually resent playing it, this one is a common pitfall. If you obsess over a difficult or tricky mix, you can actually end up falling out of love with the song as you will be focused on the negatives (i.e the mix in its current state) rather than the positives.
#4 – you don’t know where to start
Some of us jump right into the mixing process with too much confidence, whilst other times it can seem difficult to know where to start. Where should the drums be? How wide do I spread them? Does that need to be panned? Why does this sound so lame? A feeling of overwhelm is normal when approaching mixing, and you can console yourself by remembering that professionals spend years mastering and perfecting this craft for a reason.
#5 – you’ve gotten mediocre feedback from family or friends
Okay, so feedback from those close to you is by no means a gauge of whether your song is going to be a hit, but a good test is to show some close friends of family whose opinion you value and see what their reaction is on your first mix. If they don’t seem to have that wow factor straight away you know know the mix isn’t ‘radio ready’. When people listen to music who aren’t embroiled in the musicality or production of it, they often tell you more than a musician or producer could by their reactions. Common phrases to look out for are ‘well I liked some parts’ or ‘I can see how this might sound good when it’s finished’.
Remember, you can browse some professional mix engineers on our website and pay a fraction of the usual studio rates by hiring remotely.