I feel like I understand it all. EQ, compression, filters, sidechains, flange, delay, reverb, etc, but there is something missing. The mixes don’t seem to leap out of the speakers the way that I want them to. They sound very well balanced and not muddy, but there’s something missing. Is it something I’m not doing, or are my performances simply not up to par and it’s the “garbage in gargabe out” principal. I hope you know what I mean, how does one get a mix to really have impact?
I’m not really qualified to answer, but that’s never stopped me before. As a guess, I would say that if you have the basics down, but you’re not excited by the mix, that you should make sure you aren’t squashing the dynamics out of it. Balance and tonality are both very important, but a lot of good mixes have the life sucked out of them by limiting the dynamic range in an attempt for volume.
If that’s not the case in your situation, I’d take a look at the arrangement of the piece. Does it have syncopation, and interplay between distinguishable parts? Does it keep building the energy throughout the song? You really have to have a lot of elements and ear candy subtly moving things forward to keep the ears interested. If you’re satisfied with your work on the mix, but the tune is not popping, it may be the arrangement of the tune that needs some spice.