Put in a reference CD, see what it is you like about the CD and work to get a comparable sound. Just remember, you are going for a mix. Don't try to get the level as hot as the reference CD, you're reaching for the tone, balance and placement in the stereo field.
- Avoid digital clipping - De-ess the vocals and carefully compress the vocals a little more so you can hear all the lyrics - Compress the bass a little more so it's even sounding - Keep the crash cymbals low in the mix - Make the kick a bit louder than you think it should be - Compare your mixes with your reference CDs - Don't over-process - Don't try to make your mix as hot as commercial CDs, that's what mastering does
Book a pre-mix clean up session. Take an hour or so to come in with us, and erase all the throat clearing, the guitar clicks, the out-take solos, etc. At mix time, you can concentrate on the creativity, not the housekeeping.
- Don't compress the stereo output buss. It restricts what can be done in mastering - Listen to your favorite commercial CD's in the control room to compare with your sound - Be aware of the level of the lead vocals from song-to-song. Re-listen to your previous mixes - Allow for extra time to mix. Nothing is worse at this critical stage than running out of money, and you end up stuck with less than the best. Mixing is a crucial point in your project - Take breaks, have fun, enjoy the process