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You’re Mixing Too Loud!!!
Turn down your monitoring while mixing. You don’t need to mix loud to get a great sounding mix. In fact, the opposite will be true. When you’re monitoring at a loud level, the distance between each instrument is going to be bigger. So the tolerance will be wider as well. So if the balance sounds good loud, it might not sound correct at a low level.
If you mix lower, the different balances of instruments will be smaller. So when you play that mix louder, that balance will be preserved.
Also, if you can make a mix sound great at lower levels, it will only sound better when you crank it. As everything expands and more air will be moving. It’s harder to get a great mix when it’s quiet but you will be rewarded in the end.
Another benefit is that it takes many hours to create a great mix. And cranking your track will cause fatigue over time. Making it harder to make good decisions, and limit the amount of time you can faithfully work on the song. Mix lower and you can mix all day.
Of course, you should still play it loud at certain points to compare it both ways. You will hear things that jump out when it’s loud that you didn’t hear when playing it lower. And it’s also exciting to hear music blasted. So check it loud from time to time but you should spend 85% – 90% of your time listening at fairly quiet levels.
Most of us are not listening in the perfect listening environment. The louder you mix, the more you excite your imperfect room. Those reflective walls, windows and any extra ambience in your imperfect room will be exacerbated when you crank your monitors.
So what are good levels? Without using numbers, I would suggest keeping the music at a low enough level so that you can have a conversation while not having to turn down the music. You can hear people speak to you while also hearing the track.
So turn those monitors down. Save your ears. You’re going to need them if you’re going to be doing this for 30+ years. And more importantly, create better mixes that will translate better in the real world.
I hope this message finds you. Well… Kenny