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Why Do my Mixes Always Sound Muddy and Muffled?

First, what do these terms muddy and muffled mean?

Muddy tends to mean in the low end. It’s right above where the nice bass is, around the 175-275Hz range. Cutting this out can many times result in a much clearer mix! (Whether that be on individual tracks, or on the master).

What about muffled? — Muffled happens when things are not bright, but it can also result in frequency clashing. When two similar sounds are fighting for that space in your mix, they can cancel out!

Therefore, choosing the right sounds, and understanding what’s going on inside your mix, are huge factors to clear mixes.

WAY Too Many Effects,

Nexus 2 - Effects

Nexus 2 Delay

You may not have the problem of too many effects, but VSTs like Nexus 2, load presets with a healthy dose of reverb and delay on most presets.. This is something I’ve become aware of over time!

Reverb can quickly clog up your track, and not allow things to shine and cut through as you’d like!

Just dial back on the reverb/delay on the instruments that don’t need it. Think to yourself “what is my favorite part of the track”. Maybe adding some delay/reverb to that favorite part can really push it to that place you are wanting!

Turning Off Effects,

Also something to think about regarding VSTs that contain presets with lots of reverb and delay.

Maybe turn off the effects totally, then add your own reverb with a plugin, or, with the reverb within the VST itself. This way you are in control of what is going on inside your mix.

Turning off the effects is something I do not do, however, at times, I do feel overwhelmed when mixing 8+ instruments loaded with all these effects on it.

Check out more tutorials by Beatstruggles!

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