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Music Production Tips – 8 Signs of an Amateur Mix

Keep these 8 music production tips in mind next time you’re
working on a song and you’ll certainly avoid these common pitfalls:

01.Using wrong sounds

Sometimes tracks don’t sound right, because the constituent parts don’t make up a whole. That can be caused by using parts that simply don’t fit (like synth strings instead of real strings) or by using low quality samples (mp3 rips off of Youtube or Soundcloud…).

02. Too Narrow

Think of music in three dimensions, and first, make sure to check the width. Good mixes spread themselves like a blanket across the entire stereo spectrum, whereas poor mixes hit you straight into your eardrums with a single audio beam. Make use of your humble panning tools and aim for balance in your panning decisions.

03. Too Cluttered

Now think depth. There’s nothing worse than a track that has been mixed so that the parts sound like they are playing through a tin can. This is usually a sign of bad monitors being used at the mixing stage. Keep instruments of the same frequency apart. Start with the low end. From there, spread everything equally across the frequency spectrum.

04. Too Loud

Height (dynamic range). This is the ratio between the loudest and quietest part in the mix. The general trend in music production over the past decades has been to process mixes by (ab)using compressors and limiters to squash the dynamic range of an entire mix resulting in overcompression. While those techniques used to work, the’ve now become so extreme, that they’re having the opposite effect.

05. Lacking a Hook

One of the problems with your average tune is exactly that: it’s average. It lacks that certain something that grabs your listeners ear and makes it stand out from the crowd. As that crowd is getting increasingly, well, crowded, nowadays any tune worth it’s salt need some kind of hook to make it instantly noticeable and memorable. Produce a song that makes the listener want to listen again as soon as the track is finished!

06. No Groove/Wrong feel

Getting the right “feel” of a track is probably one of the most
important considerations while composing and mixing. Getting the groove wrong will destroy the sound and heart of a track. While producing, make the right decisions while building the groove of your track by choosing the right drums/bass/swing/tempo. While mixing, aim to enhance the groove with subtle, considerate processing.

07. The Obvious Stuff

There’s really no excuse for dodgy tuning, but out-of-tune vocals, clashing melodies and obvious pitch-correction artifacts. Use (and train) your ears. Close second: the stereo mix that clips never fails to astound me, with many an otherwise astonishing track is ruined because the producer thinks louder equals better (corresponds to #4).

08. Too Perfect

While I don’t want to sound like my dad here, but the slick production sheen that’s imparted by today’s music technology can often make tracks sound too sterile and uninspiring. We know you don’t wanna sound amateurish, but your music might benefit if you make things a little more organic, raw and a little earthier (unintentional hipstery!).

UPDATE: Looking for a fitting pic for the blog post, I decided to make an Infographic containing all of the music production tips above. Download below.

Thoughts? Leave your comment below!