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The Best FREE Tool: Reference Tracks

Updated: 5 days ago



Why use reference tracks?


Using reference tracks is the most powerful listening technique of all, and is especially important when we’re in an unfamiliar room or just starting out with music production and don't have the training, experience or practice to be able to trust our instincts. It's important to only use tracks that we’re extremely familiar with if we’re a new artist and unable to reference our own tracks in different


environments. Also, when selecting reference tracks, use songs with a similar makeup or instrumentation. This means we should pick songs that are in the same genre and have the feel that we're aiming for.

Reference tracks are used when A/B comparing songs
Using reference tracks to fast track your music production

Evaluate the reference track’s impact and how it grabs you:

- How does it make you feel?

- What emotion do you feel when listening?

- Does it take you on a journey?

- Does the track build?

Don’t try to be better than the quality of the finished mastered track at this stage, that’s impossible. Simply gauge how far you are from a strong and cohesive mix.



The art of mix referencing


Listen to the top ten songs in your favorite genre on Beatport, Apple Music or Spotify and you’ll clearly hear a difference between these songs and yours. When you’re just starting out, mix referencing can be depressing and enough to make you want to quit, which is why so many young producers shy away from it. Yes, this exercise is painful, but it's also the absolute best free mixing tutor available and the fast track to commercial-sounding production. The fundamental point of mix referencing is that it delivers to you what your own ears, brain, and level of experience can’t, by showing you an objective comparison between your song and the professional production of the reference track.


Our brains are equipped to process sounds by comparing our current experience in relation to other experiences. Our ears and brains have a relative judgement system that can be hacked when we’re producing and mixing by comparing our song to another high quality production. Mix referencing also allows us to compensate for a skewed listening perspective, working from a home studio or bedroom that has a less than favorable monitoring system or little to no sound treatment


Song selection process