How to Improve Song Mixing Skills

by Andre Gonsalves

I was in grade in 7 and I wanted this girl in grade 8. She was insanely hot. Every guy wanted her. She was also a singer. Since singing was for pansies, I wanted to be a rapper to impress her. But how?

There’s no way I could have afforded to go to studio and at the time the explosion in budget studio equipment was just getting started. How could I record? My dad had got my mom this Sony boom box for valentines day. I remember it well because it was the only gift I can recall my dad gave to my mom. She had stopped using it as she had enough points from a Zeller’s catalogue to get a decent stereo (she had been saving all her life) and it was collecting dust. I co-opted it.

It had a cd player, tape player, headphone input, mic input, radio and record button. I figured the record button did something so I popped in a tape from my mom’s collection – I think it was Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits – and hit record.

I played it back and it recorded nothing. Stir It Up still played. This was weird, clearly the red light near the record button lit up when it was pushed.

Oh what’s this mic input? Oh that’s why it didn’t work. I needed a microphone. Well there’s no way I’m getting a microphone. I do have a pair of headphones that I use with my CD Walkmen that has the same input, I’ll plug my headphones into the mic jack and see what happens.

Voila! I can record vocals using my headphones as a microphone. Not only that but I eventually figured out I could loop parts of a beat using the cd player and rap over them all while recording!

How the heck can this make you better at mixing your songs? Well, to be a great audio engineer, heck maybe even a great person, you have to have what I call the “What does this button do?”mentality. Improving your mixes is all about asking yourself what if I try this? Okay that doesn’t work. What if I try this? Okay that didn’t work either. Okay now what if I do this? You get the point.

You keep pressing buttons until you find something that works, overtime you’ll start to notice patterns and wont have to press as many buttons.

Oh yeah I didn’t get the girl because I was too busy pushing buttons.

Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering, which he helped found in 2012. For the last 10 years, he has made it his mission to empower aspiring artists and musicians from around the world. You can see more of Andre's writings on our Blog.

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