Tip: You ask 9/10 engineers advice on audio. They will tell you to "use your ears". This drove me crazy because half the engineers hold right onto their secrets while others seem to ramble and it would always end up at some fundamental ideas about mic placement or tell your performer to do better. After all this frustration and not getting straight forward answers, I found that the best way to get better is to use your client's ears. Listen to what your clients want from you. Do exactly as they ask. Have your opinion but be open to possibilities. We as people grow from each other. Music is the same way. Listen to your clients and make sure they know they are apart of the mixing process too. It is their song for goodness sake...
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Tip: gain stage. If you don't know what this is you need to. This is the most important and fundamental element to a good mix. With the digital age 24 bit depth and 32 float you have a huge room for error but we neglect to realize that our plugins (esp hardware emulations) will distort like the hardware. If you want that gritty sound by all means go for it. But more often than not clarity is the key. Your introducing harmonics and distortion that appear inaudible when you solo a track but across your whole session it will build up. Without the fundamentals down everything else will fall apart. Remember to gain stage before you touch any faders or effects. Happy music making!
Tip: for you hip hop producers. a common mistake producers make when making a beat is using the same velocity on your midi sample throughout the whole song. The most noticeable is your kick.
Try this. Use a different velocity for your kicks. Find your accent kick and make that 127. Then try to bring the rest down to 110 or other less important kicks to 90 or more. Try to create a groove. Another way of accomplishing this is to pitch down the kicks. A simple volume ride might also do the trick as well. But there are scenarios that each benefit from. Try all three and find out what you like best.
Another tip when your using a drum sample, with midi drums on top. For clarity sake, say you use a 70s funk drum intro you sampled from your moms vinyl collection and on top you have some 808 and 909s. Throw a delay on your sample. Something subtle so that it accents the groove. A 8th delay usually will do the trick. But experiment with other times. Or even triplet or dotted delays. Ping pong delays even. When you do this low pass and high pass the delay so that it isn't super audible. It should give a sensation that it moves.