Mixing a song is an artform. One that takes many years of practice to perfect. At the highest level of quality, the difference between a “good mix” and a “bad mix” is entirely subjective. However, before this level, there is an objective sound quality that we need to achieve to make the song enjoyable to listen to at all volumes and on any medium (heaphones, speakers, cars, laptops, etc.) My favorite way of describing this objective sound quality is what I like to call The Cube of Sound. This is how I perceive music and is exactly what it sounds like… a 3D cube, filled with squiggly air (aka sound).
The Cube of Sound has 3 distinct axis (just like any other cube):
Left to Right
Up and Down
Front to Back
Imagine your head is inside of the cube, or you are in the direct center at a festival stage and the cube is all around you. Where you hear the sound is where it spatially fits in the cube. Highs are in your ears while the sub is in your chest, panned sounds go from ear to ear, and loud noises come at you while quiet ones draw you closer. The goal is to tastefully fill the cube to give each axis life. You do not need to fill the entire cube (which I do not recommend), but allow the cube to take shape in a 3-dimensional space.
If your entire mix is in mono, you are only using 2 axis and thus using the Square of Sound instead of the Cube of Sound. The Square does not sound good. Avoid the Square. This can also happen if all of the elements of your mix are the same volume, providing no dynamic range in the Z-Axis which sends you right back to Square one… (sorry, dad joke). There are hundreds of ways to explore the space within the cube, but the basics revolve around panning, equalization, and volume differences. I’ll lay out different options for how you can turn your Square into a Cube:
X-Axis (Stereo Field)
Sub, Lows, Mids, Highs, Ultra-Highs
Z-Axis (Dynamic Range)
Utilizing these 3 axis to their full potential will at the very least give the elements within your mix their own space to breathe, and at the very best allow you to craft a pro mix. If you want to level up your mixing game, I offer lessons to teach you all my tricks to making any song slap! And as a thank you for reading my ramblings, if you use the word “Cube” in the subject line, I will give you 20% off your first lesson.
Have you heard the news? I just released my first new publication TODAY, The Candyman Mastering Guide. This is a deep dive into how to master any song using techniques I have learned through my decade-long career from multiple grammy winning mastering engineers. You can order it on the "shop" section of our website today!