Do You Listen to Your Mix?
Identify problem areas in your mix by creating a system for listening critically and often.
Most of us listen to music. Whether in the car, on headphones while working, or sitting around with friends or family. I like to listen to music while mowing the lawn or walking the dog. Personally, I have been a Taylor Swift fan since back in her country days, and most days I'm jamming out to her music with my teenagers. Music is a part of our everyday lives, even if we had no connection to mixing or audio.
But how often do you listen to your own mix?
Listening to your own mix can identify problem areas that you’d like to focus on or highlight areas that you are proud of. Depending on how the audio is recorded, taking the time to listen can also identify system tonality issues, or even issues with an online stream setup.
Today, we’re going to walk through a few tips that I use weekly to critique and improve my mixing.
How to Record Your Mix on the Behringer X32
Recording your mix on the Behringer X32 is straightforward because the X32 is set up with a USB slot that you can record a stereo .wav file.
The simplest way to record the board mix is to follow these steps:
Place a FAT32 formatted USB thumb drive into the USB slot in the USB Recorder section.
Press 'View' in the USB Recorder section.
On the screen verify Main L and Main R are listed in the upper left.
Press the 5th rotary knob to start recording.
Press the 1st rotary knob to finish recording.
Do not unplug the USB drive or turn off the console while the Access light is lit in the USB Recorder, data may be corrupted on the USB drive.
You can then take this stereo .wav file and play it back on some car stereos, or off of your laptop's music player.
Find Quality Headphones
My recommendation is to buy your own pair of professional wired headphones. Once you do, listen to every piece of music you own through them. Get to know some of your favorite songs on them, and listen for details that you hear on these headphones that you can't hear on your car stereo or wireless earbuds.
The benefit of having a set of professional headphones is they are made to reproduce the audio spectrum evenly making it so that you can hear the high-frequency, mid-frequency, and low-frequency at the same level.
The headphones that I use regularly are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. I listen to music on them, I mix FOH with them, and I will listen to my own recorded live mixes on them.
Regardless of what you use, it is important to listen to your recorded mix on headphones or a stereo system that you are familiar with. At the end of the day, it matters most that you listen to it so look for a scenario where you would be listening to music anyway. For a while, I would put my mix on a CD at the end of the weekend church services and listen to it in the car during the week.
Listen Critically and Often
The next step is to listen to your own mix. When you do, the key is to listen critically.
Is your mix too bright (too much high-frequency) or is it too bass heavy?
Remember back to when you were mixing, did it sound correct in the room? Any tonality issues you are hearing on your recording might be affecting your online stream if you are streaming from the FOH console. To fix this, you can either retune your PA system or you can add EQ on the recording/streaming bus to counter the tone issues.
Are there any instruments that are too loud or heavy in the mix?
Is it muddy?
Can you clearly hear the vocals or is it hard to understand them?
Is the lead vocal present in the mix or does it sometimes fade back beneath the band during the verses? If it does, try adding some more compression to the lead vocal next time to keep it present in the mix throughout the entire song.
I always recommend keeping those mixes in a Google Drive or Dropbox so that you can always go back and reference old mixes. Sometimes it’s fun when you get to mix the same song you mixed when you started recording and get a side by side comparison of your progress.
An extra value you can offer your team or band: If you’re already recording the mix and will be learning from it, odds are high someone else on the band might gain something from listening too. I will sometimes offer the band the option to download the mix as well so they can listen to their instruments and critique themselves.
Write down what you are hearing. Make a list of notes you’d like to impact and start working down that list each time you mix. This won’t be a quick fix, but you will find that your mix has improved from where you started after a few weeks.
Until next time,
Whenever you're ready, there are three ways I can help you:
If you’re looking for a start-to-finish way to get mixing on the Behringer X32, join my X32 Fundamentals Course. In this 6 hour self-paced video course, I’ll guide you through the five fundamentals that will help you go from overwhelmed to confident when mixing on the X32.
Take a look at my digital preset store for the X32 & X-Air products. I created these effects and channel presets to help you get to mixing faster. Each product includes .pdfs with full documentation on how to use the preset and why each setting was made.
Schedule an Online Consult with me directly. We'll meet virtually for personalized training or troubleshooting.
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