This follow up to my “The Mix vs. The Master” article focuses specifically on mixdown strategies.

This time we are going to explore tips on how to make your track sound good on various sound systems. While you may not have a million dollar studio, you can still derive professional quality sound out of your productions.

Generally, when working on a track you may do it in headphones but you should never make your final mix with headphones. There are several reasons for this:

1. Most amateur headphones do not support a full frequency range and are specifically designed for peaking sounds, but may not give you a good overall feel for how your track would sound with different acoustic settings.

2. While headphones are a great way to keep track of the many individual musical elements and their respective sound levels, you may wind up with a very different sound when playing your track back through your monitors.

So, when working on the mixdown you should take care to use your audio monitors to playback the sound. As mentioned in the previous article, it is helpful to compare your track to a professional production of the same genre.

A common mistake to make is to mixdown the project using output presets which you use for listening to music. When working on the mixdown it is important to keep the output more or less neutral, meaning you shouldn’t tweak your bass and treble on your output device. One potential downfall of making this error is that you will finish mixing your track and render it, but when you play it back on another output system [such as your car] the levels will be way off. Thus, it is helpful to have an output device on which you can easily switch presets.

Having a multi-purpose output device is also helpful when you want to test your track on various sound systems, such as your car, a club, or an intimate room setting.

So, the key things to take away from this brief tutorial are:

* Mixdown your track using audio monitors, not headphones

* Use your headphones to check for clicks, peaks,
and other inconsistencies

* Don’t attempt to mixdown your track using presets which you use for listening to music

* Test your track on various sound systems to make sure your sound is crisp and consistent

* Ask your friends, or a pro, to listen to your project. Our ears often get used to hearing the same thing over and over, but another person may hear things you don’t.

* Upload your music to and let people critique your work. After all, the best way to test your music on various sound settings is to have hundreds of people listen to it on theirs.

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