mid-range bubble gum nice one!
I started exactly like you … except that I was full-time on it for a year (sabbatical). Those were the days … I am “struggling” with a job now (should not complain about it in those days of massive layoffs, etc) … but since I am not targeting any commercial goal, I don’t give a shit, I have plenty of time
For tips and such, I have learned by myself that
1: headphones are your enemies in mixing, they tend to fuck up the freq range, they tire you fast, and you slowly become deaf without you knowing it …
2: get a rough but good enough balance without panning any track right or left. Once you do that, you can think about the stereo image
3: don’t boost frequencies in EQs, but lower the ones that you judge useless according to taste and headroom in the spectrum, you need to analyze your freq. range: for example with a one band parametric EQ on one track that you adjust on the fly while playing back your session. Do that track by track.
4: rest your ears often, don’t overdo it, don’t max out the volume to have a feel for your song. It is very tempting to do and I did it many times at the beginning. It is not only useless but it will simply waste your time as you will fuck up the mix.
5: export often and play the stuff in other places (living-room, car, cd player, laptop, whatever)
6: this is very subjective, it all depends on your style. But you can improve many things by doubling tracks (record twice, don’t simply copy). It adds some depth and the small differences will add up nicely in general.
7: effects: try to regroup them into busses as much as you can so you spare some CPU and give some more consistency to your mix, example: no need to have a different reverb on each vocal track, and worse, with a different setting.
8: unless you are doing some experimentation, it is a good thing to place the voice in the middle, guitars on the sides, etc. You also got some tip for the drums spacial image IIRC.
9: my rule of thumb is not to overdo it at any stage. I want to listen to the thing without tiring or getting a headache. Only add the stuff that contributes positively to the overall composition. If you cannot make something fit in the mix, just remove it. Go back to the basics (drums, bass) and add stuff one by one.
10: well, I can continue a lot like this … but it is just good sense. I know you are into some rather hard music. But even that style deserves a good mix, and you should optimize mixing conditions:
- be relaxed, alert, awake and keep it cool, dont strain yourself. Have friends around, a good beer, (a good joint for the end of the day ), etc.
So, it shall be a pleasant time, not a race to boost up every dB you can, etc.
That’s how I tend to work anyhow, no magic recipe