Here’s two simple mixing tips that might help you to make your mixes sound even more balanced.
Check your mix at low volume level. When you’re mixing and your monitor speaker volume levels are relatively high, everything’s sounding pretty good. But try this: drop your speakers volume level to something really low. How does your mix sound now? Focus on listening the balance between sound/instrument levels, especially the key elements. Are they in balance in relation to each other? If some important sound or instrument doesn’t seem to cut through the mix or something’s coming out too loud, adjust the volume levels and/or use EQ to fix it.
When you mix at higher volume levels, your ears gets easily tired. That’s why it’s important to check your mix balance at lower volume levels as well.
This little trick has helped me to find a somewhat optimal balance on my own mixes.
Check your mix in mono. In electronic dance music that is aimed mostly for clubs it’s important that the mix sounds good in mono because many club sound systems are mono. But what should you listen to when you sum left and right channels?
Phase issues. Do you hear sounds in your mix getting too quiet or almost disappearing mysteriously at times when you listen it in mono? That’s phase cancellation which happens when two audio signals on the same frequency are out of phase in relation to each other and they get combined.
Below is a visualization. There’s two sine waves. Let’s assume the upper one is wave from left channel and lower one is wave from right channel. You can see that the ‘crests’ of the waves are 180 degrees out of phase in relation to each other. When these sine waves get combined (summed), they cancel out each other.
Of course, there’s varying degrees of phase cancellation. The signals can be out of phase by any degree and there’s a lot of different frequencies going on in the mix so you can expect all kind of artifacts in mono such as hollow and thin sound.
What usually causes the phase issues and how to deal with them? Many stereo widening effects and techniques (such as chorus) can cause them. I would say if the most important sounds/instruments in your mix are sounding weird in mono, you might wan’t to check and re-adjust the stereo effects on these sounds. Make sure they are clear and punchy in mono. However, don’t worry TOO much about how your mix sound in mono as you need that stereo depth and wideness in your mixes as well and after all: you are mixing in stereo anyways. As a rule of thumb I would say just make sure that the fundamentals of your mix (kick and bass) are working in both, mono and stereo. Just use the “mono check” as reference and do it occasionally while not putting too much effort on it… 😎
But how do you monoize your mix? In FL Studio, use the stereo separation filter in the Mixer and turn it all to way to right (100% merged). This will sum the left and right channels to mono.