Something that unites home studio users is that we've all been there. You know what I mean. Those frustrating moments when things just aren't going how you want then to.
And one that rears it's ugly head time after time is the issue of creating a thin, underwhelming mix.
You've been working with a reference track and things are sounding good but you come back the next day and listen on a different system and you're presented with a weedy mix that doesn't compete.
So what can you do to stop this happening?
1. Go easy on the high pass filter. Filtering out all the unnecessary stuff is a good thing and it really helps to give your mix clarity and space but, overuse particularly on instruments like guitars can cause them to lose character and warmth and, you guessed it, it will do the same to your mix.
2. Ok, so you have a mix that lacks that big beefy low end like you hear on your reference track so you crank in some more bass but now everything sounds out of balance. I think of it as rather than going higher and adding more volume we want to go wider and add, harmonics, overtones and frequency.
How do we get there?
A saturation plugin will help to achieve this. Free ones like Burier from KIT plugins and Saturation Knob from Softube are a great place to start. A great method is to crank as close to the fundamental of the bass with an analogue channel strip emulation. Neve's are just great for this. Once you've hyped the low end you can work on filtering out what you don't want and you're left with an awesome fat bass sound full of sweet analogue style harmonics.
3. Headphones are your best friend when it comes to referencing and mixing the low end. As I'm sure you're aware of, home studios have their problems when it comes to accurate monitoring. Even with the best acoustic treatment, our rooms in our homes aren't designed for audio monitoring perfection and the low end suffers the most. A decent set of headphones can help massively often giving you a much more accurate idea of what is going on down there and how your mix compares with your references.
Perhaps, most importantly if you're finding your mixes are too thin don't get disheartened, it happens to the best of us and remember, there's no such thing as a bad mix.
Just good ones, and ones we learn from.
Until next time, happy mixing!