When it comes to mixing a song or beat the majority of amateur songwriters overlook the most important step in achieving a great mix. Most music producers when starting out have the mindset of “I’ll fix it in the mix”. What I mean by this is young producers will choose their sounds while they are making a beat and if two sounds are clashing they say “Don’t worry, I’ll fix it with EQ later”. This is a bad mindset to have because the majority of the time if two sounds are not meant to fit together and gel nicely, no amount of EQ or processing will force them to blend nicely. Which brings me to what I believe is the most important step for a great mix and that is Sound Selection.
Sound Selection should never be overlooked. I once heard that before producing an album, rock band Kiss would spend at least a week just playing guitars and making notes about which of their guitars sounded best together. I’ve also been told by professional beatmakers that they don’t even do much processing besides a little EQ because they take the time to pick the perfect sounds that will compliment each other. Although I do not necessarily agree with that, I believe every song needs a great mix session, I understand where they are coming from. That is the perspective that if you take the time to choose the right sounds you won’t have to worry about them clashing and fighting each other in the mixing stage. With that being said, take the time to study your sounds, know which types of sounds work well together and train your ears to find the ones that do not. If your sound library is scarce then take the time to save your money and buy professional sounds libraries. Some of the best Soft Synths I have come across are Omnisphere, Nexus 2, Komplete by Native Instruments, Gladiator, and the East West Orchestral Collection. These are the basic libraries I use when producing beats and these libraries are used by the top producers in the music industry. They can be expensive but if you are willing to invest in yourself you will find the results can be great.