Mixing too hot!
As a musician, I can’t really claim any official academic creditability as a sound engineer. I guess I’ve done it long enough now to have honed my skill, and work out a few things for myself.
That said, I sometimes still feel like a novice. It would seem that many rules that governed the ‘old school’ engineering world, often don’t apply these days. I am talking mostly about techniques which have been replaced by clever plugins.
The big mistake I have been making now for years, is mixing too loud! Recording and mixing at 48k, 24bit allows a lot of level without distortion, but this does not mean that we should push that limit during the mixing process. It’s very easy to add layers and allow the levels to climb too high. But my tip to everyone is to regularly check this and bring everything down. The standard level for DVD is something like -12db, and yet I often find my mixes hovering around 0db.
Another cause of this problem is the level of our monitors or headphones. I have an external audio interface which is great, but it’s headphone output is very weak. So I tend to amp everything up to hear it properly. So I recommend that you ensure your monitoring level is high. If you are wanting a big fat sound, don’t worry. You can achieve this in the mastering stage. In fact I have found that my bigger tracks have had more clarity and depth when they were mixed with a lot of headroom.
This little tip is probably common knowledge to most who read this. But if you find this useful, it’s likely to change your life.