In the audio world, and especially in the audio mixing world, you can see cheat sheets everywhere on social media : Instagram, Facebook, YouTube,… Some people even dare to sell them! But are they trustworthy ? Do they really help beginners ? Honestly, I don’t think so. They are actually doing the exact opposite of what the learning process should be: practice and patience.
Ok… I know, you might think I’m an old fart who doesn’t like new trends and doesn’t adapt to the times. But I think I can prove to you in this article that these “cheat sheets” are the worst way to progress in audio mixing. The reasons are the following :
- It is more of a trend than a real tool
- Most of its creators are not legitimate
- There is simply no cheat code
1. It is more of a trend than a real tool
When you’re browsing Instagram or YouTube and the algorithm knows you’re interested in music production or mixing, you probably see, like me, a considerable number of cheat sheets that appear on your screen.
This quickly makes one thing clear: it is a trend more than anything else. 90% of these cheat sheets are made to get likes, to grow the audience, to get more views. And, honestly, if you think they’re meant to help you…
Let me tell you that you’re probably wrong!
However, it must be qualified, because a very small minority can be very practical and precise. But they remain rare!
2. Most of its creators are not legitimate
You’re scrolling through your instagram feed, when suddenly… The dreaded cheat sheet of the day arrives on your screen… so out of curiosity, you look at who created it.
And there the story repeats itself : “dylankirkbeats : I’m an 18 years super talented producer, and I also mix, master my own music and I can also mix your vocals! Also, I can clean your studio with water anytime you want.” WOW, you can do all that ? Seriously ? This is so beautiful! I hire you NOW!
I present this with a lot of humor, but it is unfortunately a reality. Indeed, most of these cheat sheets are made by young beatmakers / producers looking for fame. They also want to show that they can do everything. In fact, they can’t do everything.
Wanting to be good in several fields is also assuming not to be an expert in each field. These young stars will surely see this in the future!
3. There is simply no cheat code
It’s a fact, there is no cheat code when it comes to voice mixing. However, these mixing cheat sheets show the exact opposite.
In fact, most of them convey a message of ease and banality. As if vocal mixing was just 5 frequency bands and a compressor. This is obviously totally wrong.
Thinking that a single rule can sum up an entire profession is to go against the grain of a good learning process. In other words, you would feel like you are learning faster, while actually learning much more slowly than with practice and common sense.
This article was not made to blame anyone. The people who create this kind of content probably have their reasons, legitimate or not. But I thought it was important, as a professional sound engineer, to point out that vocal mixing is about more than just a picture. A picture that, by the way, is very likely to mislead you.
Developing your ear and developing a sound identity are things that are worked on with practice, over months and years. Instead, get informed with detailed articles, complete videos on very specific subjects.
However, there is a lot of good stuff on the internet. But above all, don’t forget that vocal mixing is a very time consuming process!