Ask five award-winning engineers the best way to mix and master and you’ll likely get five different answers.
That’s because mixing is as much an art as a science. And as with any art, in order to grow you need to expand your creative vocabulary.
The best mixing tip for starters is... study other great mixes.
Listen to them even while you mix. Get a monitor controller with multiple inputs and do A/B comparisons of your mix to another recording that you think sounds great and fits what you are going for.
By doing A/B comparisons while you mix, you will hone your ear’s ability to notice the details and nuances that constitute a great mix. You'll be able to see where your mix might be falling short of that perfect sound. You’ll also learn your monitors’ character and will better know how to use them.
Just like how counterfeit money is best spotted by people who study real money, you’re ability to spot a bad mix (and correct it) will result from your studying how great mixes sound. There’s no better way to develop a professional ear for mixing than to listen to great recordings on your monitors.
While there’s no perfect formula to mixing, there are countless records that, for one reason or another, just work. As a producer, it is part of your job familiarize yourself with those records and understand on a deeper level why they work. It’s also never been easier to do so with online music services like Spotify and iTunes.
Great music is at your fingertips. Having a knowledge of it will expand your artistic taste and pay dividends on the sound you end up with. By making sure your taste is expanding along with your technical skills, you will get to producing the sound you dream about a whole lot sooner.