– Get a reference track and try to match it sonically. Copying things is one of the fastest and simplest ways of learning and reproducing the same results.
Sometimes your tracks might not want to be forced to sound like the reference track, but you can go crazy (and learn a lot) trying to make them. It will help u set levels and set eq rather than shooting in the dark. By using this method often you will get to know how to get certain sounds off by heart. There’s a chance you will make your mix sound worse if you manipulate it too much, but i’d say you’d have more winners than losers.
– Start by importing your reference song onto its own new track.
– When listening to your reference either bypass any master track plugins or make a pre master aux track that everything else except your reference track goes to. You then move all your master track plugins to the pre master aux. This leaves the reference track unaffected by plugins. If this didn’t make any sense to you don’t worry, just move on.
– Lower the volume to match the volume of your own mix as well as u can.
– Start matching.
– Listen to the big picture and the separate instruments. Sometimes try playing your song and the reference song at the same time. Its a bit messy but can be helpful. For instance you might focus just on both snare drums whilst playing both songs at the same time. Yours might be dull and its level might be too un even so you may want to do some volume automation and/or compression. Then you might want to start adding some high end eq until it gets closer to your reference snare. When you start to get confused and find it hard to differentiate between your snare and the ref snare then your probably doing alright.
This method of mixing might not be for everybody, but it might work for some of you so give it a go. It can also teach you how to record better tracks in the first place because you will have a better understanding of what to capture sonically before it even gets time to mix. In mixing you may realise your snares are always dull – solution: Capture a brighter snare. Good luck 😉 Tim.