How to make your Mixes Less Thin with Waves Plugins
There is nothing more frustrating than hearing your mix next to a commercial mix and noticing how thin it sounds in comparison (even though you poured weeks of your life into it) There is also an insurmountable amount of advice on this topic; just so you don’t get overwhelmed, here are some easy, quick tips that actually work - with some amazing Waves plugins to help you along the way! (you can download fully functional 7-day free trial demos of all Waves plugins if you want to test them out for yourself)
For full transparency I have two mixes at the end of this article; the first mix being from before I tried any of these steps, the other being after, in order to showcase the difference a few simple alterations can make.
Plugins aside, volume is one of the most important contributors to your mix. Make sure your base mix sounds relatively healthy; as doing a bit of prep work here will prevent issues arising further down the road, and will massively contribute to the overall fullness of your mix.
E.g I used to have all the instruments extremely low and would try to fix this later on with compression, however as the volume levels were so low, the overall mix was still very thin and low, which I tried to correct with more and more compression which resulted in the mix still sounding weak ( overcompression in a mix can cause lowness or thinness)
This part of the mixing process is also a good time to adjust the levels of the elements that you want to have at the forefront of your mix (e.g if the synths are overpowering your vocals, and you want the vocals to stand at the front of the mix, lower the volume of the synths).
Truly one of the most powerful compressors out there (modelled after the Solid State Logic 4000 Series analogue mixing console). The Waves SSL E-Channel has an inbuilt EQ section which not only adds fullness to whatever sound it is processing; it allows the mixer a lot more control.
It also comes with tons of free presets from the world’s best audio engineers. This is especially good with drums, and can completely transform the sound you use.
Berzerk distortion has been the secret weapon for fullness in mixes - there is absolutely no comparison between my mixes before, and my mixes after I started using this (see the end of the article)
Distortion contributes massively to the character of a mix - especially for the mid range (which is where we perceive most of the loudness) Waves Berzerk Distortion also comes with loads of free presets from the likes of Dave Pensado, Lu Diaz and many more.
Berserk Distortion can be used to make yourself or any other elements in your mix sound like a robotic alien - but it also works wonders for adding subtle character. If your drums are lacking sizzle or spice, this really helps them cut through the mix. Additionally - the subtle vocal distortion lifts any vocal to the forefront of the mix, as it adds an edge, without making them sound distorted ( can be used in a slick, lucious RnB mix if needed). Also - there are plenty of rich settings to really make your synths sound nice and warm.
Delay, doublers and reverb all open up the wideness of a mix, therefore helping with the perceived fullness; by adding depth and dimension. Waves Manny Marroquin Delay has all of these elements in one tool. This works really well on everything (and can massively cut down on CPU) and works especially synths and guitars as in addition to livening and expanding the mix, it adds a warmth.
Any plugin by Tony Maserati will add an instant glittering sheen to anything it touches - the Waves Maserati GRP being a prime example. Nice EQ with very subtle compression - this can be used at the end of a mix to gel everything together and add nice sheen and air (without overcompressing, which as mentioned earlier, can lead to lowness)
You can also use this for mastering - I used it on an electronic disco pop track recently, and the final master was one of the fullest and most sparkling masters I have ever had.
Using all of these plugins will help you achieve a nice healthy mix - that will hold up against other commercial mixes.
A mix from before I applied any of these tools
A mix from after I followed these steps ( using the steps mentioned in this article, alongside the plugins)
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