Do: Know the fundamentals.
Mixing music is about more than managing audio levels. Sound engineers also manage panning (where each instrument falls in the stereo spectrum), eliminate muddiness with equalization (EQ), and manage the effects that each performer might have applied to their instrument. Developing a basic understanding of these concepts and how to work with them in audio engineering software is a good place to start building your knowledge.
Don’t: Try to make a mix something it isn’t.
When you get an exciting new set of tools, it’s tempting to use them for everything in the mixing process. But remember, a good rule of thumb is that a good mix brings to the fore what is already present.
Audio engineer Peter Rodocker takes stock of everything in loops to understand where everything might belong. “As you start figuring out what the important elements in a song are, you can put together a rough balance of where you think things should be — how instruments are functioning in the song and how they ought to interact with each other.”
Do: Mind your home studio speaker/room combination.
The physical space where you’re mixing music can make a huge difference in the final product. “How good your studio is going to sound is only as good as the room that you’re in,” says audio engineer Gus Berry. “The room that you’re in is an extension of the sound that your speakers will be putting out.” Where your speakers are relative to each other and the rest of the room matters. A properly arranged room will go a long way toward creating a great-sounding mix.