In this article, I would like to briefly talk about mixing and give you some quick and practical advice that could improve your technique. Mixing is mainly about volumes and panning. Yes, it includes a bunch of other things like compression (which is dynamic/volume control), eq (which is about managing the volumes of frequencies), effects, and so on. So at a basic level when we start mixing, we need to find a good relationship between all the instruments. Here are some mixing tips.
Mixing Tip 1: Mix at low volume
Mix at low volume to find the right balance between the instruments. Remember: if the balance sounds good at low volume, it will sound good at a higher volume too (Just try! The opposite is not always true).
Mixing Tip 2: Gain staging
Start with the kick at -14dB FS. This will ensure good headroom. Start to build up the mix around the kick. Bring in first the main elements and then the other instruments.
[See also the article: GAIN STAGING: 4 TOP TIPS]
Mixing Tip 3: First approach
Start with all the instruments panned center and adjust the volumes. Then pan what you feel is necessary and re-adjust the volumes.
Mixing Tip 4: Panning
When panning instruments try to capture the interest of the listeners. For instance: you might have a tambourine panned on the L and when the tambourine stops and the woodblock comes in, you can pan the woodblock on the R, opposite to the tambourine to give more directions to the impression of a progression in the song.
This panning strategy usually captures the interest of the listeners as they always have inputs from different directions.
Mixing Tip 5: Subtle automation
Another way to create interest in the listener is to automate the pan making an instrument move around. Sometimes even the most subtle automation brings instruments to life.
Mixing Tip 6: LCR
Experiment with the LCR panning technique. I love it. Without any compromise pan, the main elements of the mix are in the center or all the way to the left, or all the way to the right. Your mix will appear much wider and fatter.
After volumes and panning your mix should sound simple but fairly good. If it doesn't sound good, it means that something went wrong with the editing, recording, playing, or arrangement. You might be able to improve some aspects of the mix with some extra editing, sound replacement, EQ, and compression.