Mixing is beginning to make a lot of sense to me... I find it has nothing to do with genre, so much as it has to do with presence and tone. Modern recording allows us to carefully craft the spectrum like never before. What's interesting is listening to the cross over from the 70s-80s-90s and hearing a significant change in the volume and detail of the mixes.
Mixing remains to be one of my favorite hobbies because of the sheer number of decisions and strategies that go into the process. One trick I've been using is where I "live" with a template that I dump projects into. While constantly saving this template and plugging in work, I get to add and take away things and get to create my own "sound"
It is only recently that I feel I am beginning to understand my "sound," and the only reason for that is because I've learned -- like a scientist -- how to control variables and how to apply consistency to the entire process. Balancing a mix is something I no longer need to sit with a list of reminders for things to check -- my ears are already going there and making quick decisions.
So recently I did a mix where I wanted to take it a step further... It had become the first time in a long time that I go to a website for tricks or reminders of things I could do. Needless to say -- like always -- I found some really good advice about using multiple limiters and not just a single one... Anyway, I tried it and it worked... there was a fullness both in the waveform (visible in Foobar2000) and in the sound; all I did was chain 4 Waves L2 Limiters together and hit them not harder than -3db. It wasn't until the third and four limiter than I began to hear it fill up!
What I'm finding in "my sound" is that by applying these same settings and using my meters (an absolute must), I am one step closer to creating said "sound."
I really hope one day to have access to outboard gear and continue experimenting with my blending techniques; I'm after this 'feeling' of the mix -- when listening in stereo. I don't feel I am truly "synesthetic," but I do "see" things when I 'perceive' my mix moves (panning, volume, etc.)
It's that now I'm using lots of blending techniques and building soundstages
Now i'm compressing in rhythm to the music and it's really clean -- everything hitting sweet spot
Vocals are dialed in and usually nudged back to "sit better" -- Ableton is great for this with their "delay" button
Bass is king -- this is the modern sound. Getting the bass right (even without a sub) is something that get's clearer and clear to me through the years. Now I understand it as it's "own space" and something that the rest of the music 'locks' into. Bass is the foundation (kick and bass)
With that said, I use my meters to get the 'loudness' I am after.. For most applications, I'm hitting -8db (crest factor).
Using chorus, saturator, spreader, panning, reverbs, etc.. to make a 'voice' standout has been extremely rewarding -- it truly is magical how it works.
Small doses of compression (everywhere)
Cutting in the 315-500hz range... this is where most records have a cut in mastering
67hz is still one of my favorite feeling frequencies (daft punk - crescendolls)