So you’ve been listening to the same song over and over for the past 3 hours, and it seems to sound perfect. So you bounce it down, and you’re happy with it as a finished song. A few months later, you decide to give it a listen... and it sounds like total garbage. How on earth did you not notice how bad it sounds??
Ear fatigue. Just like our eyes adapt to the lighting, and colours of a room to make everything look right, our ears will adapt to sounds, and make it sound right. And it happens fairly quickly. When you start mixing a song, everything is out by so much, that your ears are adapted to that sound, and we are tricked into thinking it sounds good. For instance, your snare isway too loud and your guitar has too much bass. You decide to fix the guitar first, and while doing this, your ears got accustomed to the extra loud snare, so when you back off on the snare, that energy isn’t there anymore. It grew on you, and you feel like it needs to go back to where it was. Don’t do it! Your ears are lying to you.
But if your ears lie to you... then how can you mix anything? There’s some techniques to help overcome this.
1- listen on different speakers and headphones
2- take breaks
3- mix by experience ( explained in step 4 of my mixing workflow lesson)
4- know your speakers, know your limitations
Another part of ear fatigue is from room acoustics. Poor room acoustics is very difficult to hear, because our brains automatically adjust to make things sound normal, but the room can be masking issues like too much reverb, or a badly balanced mix. our ears quickly get used to it to make it sound normal.
Your ears lye to you, your room lies to you, your speakers lie to you....