Mixing music can be highly subjective. For novice engineers, it can be hard to know where to start. Many will ask "how do I know if my mix is good or not?" Well, the truth is that every mix is different. A mix that sounds great for one genre may sound horrible for another. So, how do engineers know if a mix sounds good?
Loudness can be quite a contentious subject amongst audio engineers. The "Loudness Wars" have been raging since the 1980's and record labels have been pushing engineers to produce louder and louder masters. To accomplish this, mastering engineers tend to apply copious amounts of peak limiting. This can make things sound brittle and has lead to the sonic degradation of some otherwise well-produced tracks.
Setting levels is the most fundamental aspect of mixing music. Before the days of Pro Tools and endless editing, mix engineers were known as "balance engineers." This is because the primary duty of a mix engineer is to balance levels between musical elements. Critical listening skills are essential to setting precise levels. Mix engineers usually need a room with great acoustics and extremely accurate monitoring to ensure that they are creating a balance which translates to all listening systems. However, trends in modern music production have led many engineers to work in smaller spaces, with less than perfect acoustics. This causes engineers to make poor decisions when balancing tracks. Thankfully, Soundways has developed the Core Production Bundle to help engineers and producers set levels in the most accurate way possible.