Mixing/Mastering References

Does anyone use any commercially released tracks for references while mixing or mastering? Here are some I use to freshen the ears up:

No Doubt - “Hella Good” and "Underneath it All"
To remind me that less reverb and simplicity goes a long way

Smash Mouth "Walkin’ On The Sun"
Jack White - "Lazaretto"
For some vintage modernity, and brave panning

Katy Perry - E.T.
For modern brightness and simple drum power

Really curious to hear what you guys use.


I always use as a reference track, which is the most similar in style to the one I’m working on. I use it only as a guide for commercial loudness, dynamics, EQ. Recently, I use an alternative approach to mixing/mastering. Since the composer, the arranger, the mixing engineer is one person (I think the majority here has the same situation))), I immediately try to choose sounds that match each other in timbre - this excludes a lot of “dances” with EQ when mixing. In addition, if you competently approach the choice of the compressor, then the equalization will generally be minimal, because compressors give the right color. When the arrangement is ready, I make a balance of loudnesses, add a limiter to the master and, by comparison with the reference, I get the right volume. When the volume is the same, I’m trying to figure out what my track is inferior to the reference sound.


Thanks for sharing @Lemonello. It’s always useful to see how other people approach this.

I’d also like to share something a friend and much more experienced mixer than myself suggested: Mix/Master at a ridiculously low listening volume. Barely over -infinity.

I discovered that I got mix balances much faster, and my mixes, that had a tendency to be really lower mid heavy, started to naturally sound less muddy, had more punch and better depth perception. Of course when you bring it up to a louder listening volume some other issues become apparent, but still, your ears are a lot less tired to address them.

Don’t know if it’ll work for everyone, but it was definitely an eye opener to me. I wish he had told me this earlier. I learned about this just a couple of weeks ago…

Also as you commented, It helps a lot us wearing all the hats (composer, musician, mixer). It’s a blessing to have control over everything, be able to address arrangement issues that come up at the final stage of the mix, and re-record or re-arrange something without having to wait for another person to make the song work better.