We are almost done!
This last bit is sometimes the most challenging. I will cover some things to keep in mind and what you want to avoid.
Time to start listening to our new song… over and over…
By the way, this might be a good time to make a save with a new name (yoursongname_mix01). We will potentially be making some drastic changes and it is nice to have a raw version of your original ideas in case something goes wrong.
Review the Song
This can be a painful process, but it is necessary to listen critically and begin making changes and removing what doesn’t work. We are listening to determine what goes and what stays and what needs to be changed.
This applies to everything: instruments, melodies, song sections, etc.
- Does it go against the theme and/or mood?
- Does it clash with other elements?
- Are you feeling 50/50 about it?
- Does it sound kind of dull or weak?
If any of these apply, then there may be a need to cut and replace.
This can happen and it is absolutely ok to take out parts that just are not working. You may have to replace elements completely or just remove them altogether.
If it is something that can be easily fixed, then go ahead and make those edits at this time. Be sure to listen back and confirm it is all set before moving forward.
Replace or Remove
As mentioned above, sometimes you are hearing a section or an element of the song that just isn’t right. Typically, this can make things challenging at this stage, but you will have to make a decision to either replace with something new or determine if the song is better off with it being removed.
I am a big fan of the “less is more” concept. It is usually better to remove pieces instead of slapping new ones on as band aids.
With that said, you can’t just remove a vital element like the kick or bass. In those instances, you really have no choice but to replace it with something better. Make sure to give it your full attention and go back through the previous steps to bring it up to speed with the rest of the song’s quality.
If we are not digging a layer that is not vital, or a sound effect, or a section that is less critical (like a bridge or extended verse), then lets try removing it completely. Make sure the song sounds better without it and that there are no gaps left in its place.
If you don’t miss it, then you made the right decision to remove it.
Find Weak Points
You want to try and identify any weak points in your song. This should come up in the review, but in my experience it is usually either a missing layer or a transition that isn’t as effective as you want.
In some cases you need to make an addition. Maybe all you need is a layer of highs or white noise to seal the deal on your lead. Or maybe you can make some new variations of your drum fills that can be added throughout.
However you go about it, you will need to make the final additions in order to proceed. We are at the point now where we are just about ready to call the song complete. So take a few listens to make sure you have all the weak points taken care of.
At the time of writing this guide, this is an area I have been focusing on to improve my productions. So with that in mind, here is what I am referring to.
Sometimes after a few hours working on a mix, you can start to squish frequencies when making room for everything else. This can lead to lost frequencies or gaps in the range. It can be tricky to get your ears to find these areas, but after taking a little bit of a break and coming back, they can be a bit easier to locate.
When found, check your EQ, filter and anything else that could be stripping away some of those extra frequencies and give some back. It’s all about trial and error and finding the best method that works for you.
Once you are confident you resolved any of these issues, it is time to listen to your song even more.
SAVE YOUR WORK!