Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to check out a very easy tip, so easy that may sound obvious but obvious is not, since I have found myself several times in the situation in which I have overloaded my signal chains with plugins, and then I realized that removing some of them was actually making the mix sound better (the same concept applies to mastering).
This is the reason why I ended up, after analyzing on this blog every single effect type usable I ended up writing two articles such as the minimal mixing approach and the minimal mastering chain.
A mix engineer, both professional or amateur, is most of the times a geek at heart: we love to try new solutions, new plugins, new hardware to see how they change our sound, if we can get that 0.1% improvement that we dream of, and this, paired with today's infinite choice of tools, can bring us to an extensive library of plugins that is always there tempting us.
What if I add a second compressor? What if I add a saturation plugin? And a harmonic exciter after that?
Eventually we may find ourselves with 10 plugins chains for each track, both slowing down our computer and making incredibly hard to find out what to tweak in case we want to change anything.
What I'm trying to say today is not "let's go back to the '30s in which the whole band was recorded with a single microphone and then bounced into a vynil with no processing": experiment all you want, but then, at the end, try this procedure:
Start running the whole song, open up your console, go track by track and hit the bypass button on each plugin, one by one, and listen in real time the effect on the mix: if the overall sound gets worse, even by a 0.1%, leave it on the chain. If you cannot notice any particular difference, or if the overall sound is even better, or cleaner, remove the plugin.
You will be amazed by the amount of plugins you will remove, and the project will suddenly sound cleaner and punchier, you'll probably recover transients that went lost in all the processing, and eventually also your project will go smoother.
Moreover, the final product (unless you screw up the mastering) will sound more natural and dynamic.
I hope it was helpful!