Have you ever felt like your mix was cluttered?
All of your tracks sounded great, but when you put them together, it just seemed like there’s too much?
In this age of unlimited track count, it can be all too easy to needlessly clutter up your mix. Just because you can record whatever comes to mind, doesn’t mean that you should.
Read on for tips on how to avoid clutter, and maintain clarity in your mixes.
1. Record Less Tracks
Plain and simple. Less tracks means less clutter.
The intentionality and arrangement of the tracks you record make a much bigger difference than track count. You may think that you need lots and lots of tracks in order to make your song sound big. But in reality, if you record the right tracks, then you won’t need as many.
For example, two guitar tracks played on different guitars, performing complementary parts will sound much bigger than a straight-up double.
Be intentional about what you record. You will avoid clutter, and your recordings will sound big and full.
2. Give Each Track Its Place
There are only so many things that your listeners will be able to pay attention to. We can only hear so much at a time.
It’s important to realize that not every track can be in the foreground. Actually, you can only place one, or maybe two tracks in the foreground of the song. The rest need to get out of the way.
It’s ok for tracks to be in the background. It’s ok if they’re barely audible sometimes. It’s even ok for certain tracks to be buried in the mix. As long as the overall mix sounds good.
Some tracks just add a little bit of texture. The listener can’t necessarily pick it out, but they would miss it if it was gone.
Sometimes I’ll put a track in the background of a mix, and then I’ll try muting it to see if I miss it. I do this with organ parts and synth pads a lot. Try it on your next mix. Just because you can’t pick out a particular track in the mix, doesn’t mean you won’t miss it when it’s gone.
3. Good Performances Blend Together Well
Conversely, poor performances sound cluttered.
Editing the timing and tuning of your tracks can help with this. Tightening up your tracks make them sound more cohesive and locked into each other.
Of course, the key to good editing is to avoid it when possible. Capturing a great performance trumps editing every time.
But whether you practice more for a great performance, or spend more time tweaking the timing and tuning later to lock things in, having good recorded performances will reduce the clutter in your mix, without reducing your track count.
What do you think? Any other tips for reducing clutter in your mix? Leave a comment below!