Phase - It could be what is pushing you back.Phase relates to the actual sound wave of what you are recording and mixing. This is why it can be one of the most confusing things to understand in audio engineering.
It is also the source of that unexplainable weirdness and weakness in your mix.
In short, unless you have incredible ear for it or you are crazy lucky, you need to put the time into grasping the concept of phase.
Phase is a way of describing how multiple sound waves are working together; are they helping and reinforcing each other? or are they working against and destroying each other?
What is phase?
Every sound is transported or in fact created by something pushing particles, and those particles then rippling through air, wood, whatever, until it runs out of energy. Hitting a table creates a sudden push of particles through the air and through the wood of the table. The wood of the table moves at a different speed to the air around the table. Slow moving particles sound lower and fast moving particles sound higher. So the sound of the wood is lower and the sound of the air is higher.
What is a soundwave?
When some things are in phase they are working together.
What is in phase?
Imaging several people rowing a boat at the same time.. Like the Dragon boaters I sometimes see on Lake Pupuke, or a Waka down at Petone beach. If their paddles are hitting the water at the same time, then are using the same power and speed for their row, and the boat will heave ahead in a stronger more solid motion.
This is in phase.
This is a good mix.
When some things are out of phase they are working against each other.
What is out of phase?
Imagine if a couple of the rowers described above realised they forgot their lunch and started rowing in the opposite direction.
Imagine also if another rower had a broken wrist, so their rowing was a lot slower and inconsistent to the others.
The paddles will not be hitting the water at the same time, they are using different power and speeds for their rows, and some are actually rowing backwards! The fact is, this boat will still be moving.. But it won’t be pleasant for anyone.
This is out of phase.
This is a bad mix.