I'll make this as quick as I can so you can get back to making great music.
Have you ever finished a mix that seemed to have tons of energy and excitement in the studio but when it returned from mastering and you cranked it up loud to hear your musical masterpiece it seemed to have lost some life?
This could be because of the mastering job squishing it to death.
HOWEVER, before you go blaming the mastering guy check your unmastered mix at a very loud volume. If it is still missing that energy then your problem is probably something that happens to so many trained audio engineers.
Audio engineers have learned to mix at low levels to hear accurately and get a good mix. However, as a producer I have some input on this. Do not spend more than half of your production time at low levels. Make sure you constantly go back and forth between whisper level and hit ya in the chest level. If you don't you may find yourself wondering why your awesomely balanced mix sounds lifeless.
The reason for this is something I have argued with many trained engineers about. It is perceived TEMPO.
What the heck is perceived tempo you ask?
Well you are undoubtedly familiar with perceived volume. The volume it SEEMS you are hearing as opposed to actual dbs.
Perceived tempo is the same except with the speed you think your song is at.
Crank your song at in yo face level for about 16 bars and feel the tempo. Then turn it down really really low and notice how it seems to be way faster.
This is why you should select tempo and produce rhythmic parts at fairly loud volumes. If you do these things at lower mix levels you may choose a bomb that's too slow or create parts like arpeggiated guitars or synths and delays that don't have the right energy.
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