How Online Mixing Referencing Fine Tunes Your Mix

The mixing phase is where most of the magic happens. But as you get fully immersed in your mini mixing home studio, you lose track of time...and to some extent, the intended sound of your mix.  This is where online mixing referencing comes in handy.

What is online mixing referencing?

To begin with, mix referencing is simply comparing your current mix to a professionally mastered track. The track you are comparing to is labeled as the reference mix.

Previously, an artist or mixing engineer would have to hire a professional mastering engineer for mixing referencing.


Because the artist or mixing engineer needs to own rights to the reference track. The reference track, therefore, can only be a previously mastered song or sound owned by the  artist/mixing engineer

If not, the artists and audio engineers had to buy temporary rights to commercial tracks owned by other artists or mix and mastering engineers.

The latter becomes an expensive option if you are just starting in mixing referencing.

So, what to do?

Enter the world of online mixing referencing. This new age mix referencing technique takes away the pain of paying for reference tracks. Prior knowledge to any audio mixer online could also save you the expense of hiring an online mix engineer.

Tips for online mix referencing

But even with this technology out there, you still need to understand the basics of mix referencing. And you are going to learn that here.

Remember these 4 golden tips for all your online audio mixing referencing;

  • Check the levels
  • Match the meter
  • Balance the EQ contour
  • Polish on overall dynamics

Level checking

Check your levels first before doing anything else. Matching the levels on your mix to that of the reference track provides a base for mix referencing.

As you compare your mix to the reference track, you may notice these subtle difference;

  • Your mix sounding too low or too loud
  • The bass sounds softer or punchier
  • Your stereo is wider or narrower
  • Huge difference in EQ balance between the two tracks

Ensure the high ends and low ends are balanced and close to the reference track.

If the low ends sound muffled compared to the reference track, bring up the volume of your kicks and bass. Alternatively, you could give an EQ boost to your low end to bring it up to the same level as the reference mix.

On the other hand, if your high ends are too pronounced, you want to bring the level down to the central line. One way of doing this is by reducing the volume of your sweeps and cymbals. You could also make EQ cuts on your high ends to reduce some of that punchiness.

Whatever you do, make sure your levels match or are closer to that of your reference mix.

Meter matching

Metering gives a push to the level balancing. Most DAWs come with inbuilt metering system that helps give your mix more headroom. But for more flexibility, consider installing dedicated metering plugins.

EQ Contouring

You can polish up on your harsh highs or boomy lows using EQ contouring. Like in levels, you also want to ensure that the lows and highs do not exceed the midrange. It is advisable to use EQ contouring plugins that give you a visual representation of your progress. These are easier to work with.

Dynamics Polishing

Here you are checking how compression affects the entire mix. Are the dynamics of your mix closer to that of the reference track. If not, you may have to go back and tweak your compression.

More tips on mix referencing

You want to capture everything, and not leave out anything when online mixing referencing. Here are additional tips to remember;

  • There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to mixing referencing. Once you get the EQ, dynamics, levels, and frequencies closer to the reference track, feel free to add your creative genius from here. Who knows, your track could end up with more punch than the reference track.
  • Pick a reference mix that is in the same genre as your track. Ensure the instrumentation and sonic are as similar as possible. It makes things easy when setting the levels.
  • Go for reference tracks that sound great. If possible, choose tracks that have done well commercially to reference from. Alternatively, pick a track you have recorded before that was professionally mastered and performed well.
  • Always reference with high-quality mp3 files. Low-quality music files won't give accurate sounds and this can throw your mixing referencing off-balance.
  • Visual tools are handy when reference mixing, but always trust the good judgment of your ear
  • Reference your mix across many platforms.

Get our professional online music mixing services

It is easy to lose sight of your mix’s sound when you have been at it for hours. Fortunately, there are plenty of online music mixing platforms that allow you to reference your mix while still mixing and mastering it.

But if you want an experienced professional to give a second opinion on your mix, then you need to hire an online mixing engineer.

As Mr. Mix and Master, we provide professional online music mixing services to artists, mixing, and mastering engineers. With years of producing Hit Charts for A-List clients, we are confident that we will turn your track into a hit too.

If you are still struggling to get your mix closer to the reference track, let our online audio mixing engineer have a look at it. What's more, we already have an archive of professional mastered and radio-ready hits we can compare your track to.