One of the biggest problems in music
production is muddy, undefined mixes.
Instruments mask each other, meaning they
operate in the same frequency region and
thus don’t leave space for one another.
Imagine a group photo, where everyone
stands in front of each other instead of
taking separate positions.
You wouldn’t be able to see every face on
the picture. Some would be hidden by
The same happens with instruments and
sounds when you don’t position them
On a photo, you would try to make use
of the width and height of the picture,
positioning some persons more to the
left, others more to the right, some
standing and some sitting..
..so every face can be seen.
It’s the same with music.
Just that in music the width of the picture
is the stereo field, while the picture height
is the frequency spectrum.
Every instrument and sound need it’s own
space in the frequency spectrum and in
the stereo field.
And the best moment to give every
instrument and sound its own space is
long before we start mixing ..
.. right at the beginning of the production
Fix It Before The Mix
Basically, you can break this down to
- Sound Selection
The order isn’t important. Most of the time
arrangement and sound selection go hand
in hand, as we keep adding sounds
throughout the arrangement process.
However, I recommend not spending too
much time on sound selection in the first
place, as this may interrupt your creative
flow and drive your focus away from
finishing your song.
Having a good sound arsenal will save
you a ton of time searching for the right
Now let’s have a closer look to arrangement
and sound selection.
Use different octaves for different
instruments, so they get out of each
other’s way. This is especially important
for instruments with a similar sound.
Another method to separate two similar
sounding instruments is panning them
differently. Doesn’t have to be hard left,
hard right. Sometimes just a little will do
Also, don’t use every instrument all the
time throughout your song or beat.
Besides creating space in the mix, this will
create movement and excitement. Which
is exactly what listeners want:-)
The sounds you choose for a song or beat
should be as diverse as possible. Of
course all within your musical style.
Mix up dark and shimmering sounds,
heavy and light sounds, distorted and clean
Again this will not only get each sound and
instrument out of each other’s way, but also
make your song or beat exciting to listeners ..
.. which should always be your ultimate goal
for each and every piece of music you create.
Time For Action
The next time you create a beat or song,
spread your instruments over the stereo-
and frequency spectrum right from the
beginning. Also, work with different octaves.
Choose sounds that are diverse and varying
combinations of sounds and instruments
throughout your song or beat.
Not only will this save you a lot of time and
work later on in the mixing process.
It will also make your music more exciting to
listeners, which is exactly what you and they
Have fun and stay creative:-)
P.S.: This will save you a lot of time ..
.. and inject a healthy dose of excitement into