We’re back with another fabulous FAQ Friday! Today’s featured question is: Besides width, what can I do to make my mix stand out in a mixing contest?
I have participated in and judged quite a few mixing competitions in my time, and one story related to this that comes to mind is the mixing competition that was held when I was doing The Fray’s second album.
In this mixing competition, we had one mixers use a trick that really does make a mix stand out. He mixed the song by almost almost completely limiting each section. What he did was hit his master bus pretty hard so it was slamming and super loud, but he turned it down about a dB and a half in the verse, and then brought it back up to zero in the chorus. This manipulated the dynamics so that you had a super loud pumping verse, and then it came right up when you hit the chorus!
Though this trick can help to make your mix stand out in a competition, it is not guaranteed, and is not the only way you will be able stand out. It all depends on what the criteria of the competition are!
In the case of The Fray’s album, we actually had the assistant volume match all the mixes so that none of them were perceptibly louder than the others, meaning they all came out at the same level. In the end, we did not choose the one that use that volume trick, but chose one that seemed to have the most width and depth and felt more in keeping with the song.
If the competition is about taking their rough and not doing anything crazy to it or adding anything to it, then you should simply take their rough mix and make more of it. Listen to it over and over, and take notes. Think about what areas you would improve and how you can build on that rough.
If they give you the opportunity to do remixes, this is where you can have some fun with it and get really creative, adding additional instrumentation and other things to really make your mix jump out! Play around the mix and make it jump out of the speakers!
In the end, it really is a combination of making sure that the mix is just loud enough to jump out of the speakers, making sure you’ve got enough dynamics to really make those choruses pop, and giving yourself a lot of opportunity for the song to feel wide and have some depth.
Throughout the mixing process, go back to the rough to see where you can build on it and how you can make it better. Think about how the song should sound and what areas of the rough you want to improve, and your mix is sure to stand out in the end!
Watch the full video below to see the full answer and other great FAQ Friday questions!