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Author Topic: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)  (Read 10464 times)

j.hall

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thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« on: June 19, 2007, 03:04:53 pm »

so, we've done a lot of IMP's now.  more and more people are participating, and i'm sure tons are lurking (which is great too)

this last IMP was really great.  every mix was solid in it's own way.  i can't really say there were any technically bad mixes.

i guess based on that, i have to say that IMP is really helpful for you guys.

so, some questions would be (now that you guys are getting a clearer idea of what i'm trying to teach)

don't answer the questions based on what you know i think and what i'm trying to teach.  answer them honestly for what you personally think

1.  assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus.  what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)

2.  as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?

3.  as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?

4.  assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?

5.  if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?

6.  how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?


i really want to see a lot of answers.  and try not to read too many other posts.  answering the questions cold, will be a good thing, don't let others influence your opinion.

bring your strongest opinion on these subjects, i want to go to the mat on some of this.
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dconstruction

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2007, 03:22:00 pm »

1.) I see mixing as producing, but with a limited toolset.  You are to bring focus, lend third-party ears, and make decisions that emphasize a song's strength and ameliorate its weaknesses, just like producing.  That said, mixing is a hands-on science, unlike (some) producing.  Therefore, a technical prowess is necessary.

I believe I already think like a producer.  I need the tools and experience to get the sounds out of my head, through these EQs and compressors and finally out the 2bus like I want them to.

2.) Depends.  I'd say, given allowance for time and money, a cold first cut could be beneficial; it might open some doors to the mix heretofore undiscovered.  After that, discussion with the artist is in my opinion mandatory.

3.) Alone.  Only because I don't want the distraction of worrying  I'm abusing my clients' ears and sanity as I loop a single bass drum hit over and over and over while making adjustments.

4.) Eh, I would still say no, even if "free reign" is taken literally.  The artist is the artist.  If they agree to new parts, then, congratulations: you've become an even more producing mixer.  I would never assume adding or replacing tracks is OK.

5.) Tough question.  I hear a certain "flatness" to my mixes that I don't like, but then a certain "graininess" that I do like (most of the time).  I like texture and contrast over polish and sparkle - though I wouldn't say I'm a "lo-fi" mixer.  I'd love someone else to answer this question for me.

6.) Eh, kinda the same as above.
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Iain Graham

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2007, 04:16:14 pm »

I haven't done an IMP yet, as they always seem to fall at bad times for me. The next one is a definite target though.

Either way, I can maybe add something by answering the questions, I hope.

1. I think mixing is where engineering gets artistic. If I'm producing then I'm engineering too, especially by mix time (I may have an assistant for tracking), so it's hard for me to separate the two. I also do a lot of projects without producers, the band claim to be producing but I think we all know how few bands do it without help. No fault of theirs, but it's gotta be done to get the best out the project.

If I'm mixing with a producer, then I give them input if I think it needs it, or make some suggestions if I think it will help. It also depends on how technical the producer is. The un-technical ones will leave me to it and speak up if something is wrong.

2. I hate not hearing the track before hand. I like to have a plan of how I'm going to do things. The trouble for me comes from trying to not be influenced by the mix I'm hearing. Whether rough or a previous effort by someone else.

3. I like to start alone but would never really finish a mix alone, or without any input from the artist.

4. Define parts. Double tracking and changing tones etc,  is generally OK. Adding drum samples onto what is already there is as well. Maybe some noise type things (synth drones etc). Anything else and I'd suggest it to the artist or producer and get someone in to do it. I'm not a muso, so playing something would be hard, but I think adding full parts is beyond the remit of a mixer. That to me would mean the track wasn't ready for mixing.

5. Pretty up front and aggressive. I definitely have a style. The style of music and the target market will be factors as to how far I go with it though. If it's a pop thing it's pretty full on, if it's a jazz or acoustic folk thing, it's way more chilled out and subtle.

6. See above. I can do other styles, but that's how i like to mix it.
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ScotcH

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2007, 04:31:56 pm »

1. (2 part engineer, 1 part artist, 2 parts producer)

2. Going in Cold seems to make the mix much faster for me ... if I get input before hand, I try too hard to match the expectation, and get bogged down.

3. Definitely alone for a proper mix, but with others present, I tend to work MUCH faster Smile

4. Nope ... this should be left to the artist.  Of course, discussing the idea or bringing it up is fine (even encouraged!)

5. Clinical ... I think maybe my mixes sound really clean, but maybe not enough emotion (which can come from the "dirt").

6. Probably the same (Clinical) ... I need to spend less time with the details I think, and work more with the big picture (ie, stop editing out 3 frames at a time, or 0.05db of gain!)

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Fibes

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2007, 04:39:15 pm »

1. The ideal blend would be someone who was there from the beginning. Sure, there are plenty of times a great mixer can take OK tracks and make them speak but i wholeheartedly feel albums are "start to finish" pieces of art.

2. If I'm tracking I have all the input already, if i'm just mixing i want no influence up front. If i have to back up (on a recall so be it, but do not influence me with opinions or rough mixes. I want NONE of that.

3. No one in the room with me until we are at least 80% there. they can sit in the other room and listen but if they want 200% from me their input comes after the framing is done.

4. I don't add tracks unless it is OKeeDokeed up front. They are paying me to mix not to track. Sure, a loop, pad or bleep or whatever but no "parts."

5. All over the place. As a room owner I am forced to do all kinds of stuff from working with legends of bluegrass to local shit metal and from traditional Jazz to complete freak rock. The one constant thread is the fact that everyone gets the same amount of energy, effort and respect put into their mixes that they require.

6. Constantly improving through hard work and dedication. I'm not about to put myself on a scale whether it is measuring talent or style because in the end no one cares what i think of my work. If the fans don't notice my work I've done my job for the song.
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ATOR

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2007, 04:47:34 pm »

Great questions!

Quote:

1.  assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus.  what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)

A mixer is first of all someone who knows how to materialize a vision into a great sound. If you can't do that you can be all the producer and artist you want but you'll suck at mixing. You get bonus points for being musical and know how to groove.

Quote:

2.  as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?

I like to go into a mix completely unbiased, listen to the track with a good faders up balance and follow my gut instinct of where I'd like to take the song. If the artist did a good job the song tells me where to go.

Quote:

3.  as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?

I think it's important to first realize the sound you have in your head. The client won't know where I'll take the track until he hears my endresult. Then we can talk about where he'd like changes. If a client start meddling when I'm halfway it's easy to end up nowhere because he'll be telling me to change where he thinks I'm going.

Quote:

4.  assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?

Yup, do whatever it takes to make it a great track. It's easy to take it out if the client doesn't like it.

Quote:

5.  if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?

From the IMP feedback I get I'd say aggressive and trippy Smile

Quote:

6.  how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?

I'm always trying to surprise myself, searching for divine sound.
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Pieter Vincenten - ATORmastering

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2007, 05:45:40 pm »

1) I look at it as a hierarchy that's equal parts everything.  In other words, I want someone who's technically adept, artistically visionary, and organizationally hard-assed.  It seems to me that if any one of those overtakes the other, you end up with a sort of myopic view of the process.

2) The artist in me wants to come in cold because the producer in me knows that the engineer in me takes over when he's got too much information.  I'd rather let some of that artist through and see what happy accidents happen...to see what grabs me first.  Sometimes that gets me into trouble, but more often than not, it prevents my mixes from journeying to the land of suckitude.

3) Alone.  The client, unless they are engineers themselves, don't really understand the process, or the value of the process.  I'm learning more and more that when I go through a process on my mixes (i.e., start faders up, balances and panning, eq, GET THE VOCAL SOUND, dynamics, other effects, 2 buss, final blending and automation) I end up with a MUCH better product than when I work on each instrument in turn.

4) Not really.  I'd personally be pissed if I sent something to mix and heard something I didn't ask for.  Cutting arrangements you could talk me into, but if there's a 808 loop in the middle of my death metal track, I'm not going to be a happy camper.

5) I think as a mixer, I tend to do "realistically big" "extra-moderately aggressive" mixes.  Mayhaps a little tiny bit vanilla, but solid, listenable, and true to feel.  

6) I would describe myself as an "identity enhancer," or at least that's my goal.  Technical perfection isn't much fun.  I'm leaning more towards finding the right attitude, whatever that is.
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Ian Combs
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J-Texas

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2007, 05:49:37 pm »

1. Recording - all things equal, I guess. 33.34% technical for getting on tape what the instruments are playing. 33.33% artistic to know where the artist is coming from and what he wants on tape. 33.33% producer for balancing the two, making sure not to go extreme one way or the other. Mix - To me only. I would have to say that it is mostly artistic. Put a blindfold on. You can still hear. Needles jumping and lights flashing are cool, but someone else could turn the knobs... I still know what I want to hear. It would be very difficult to explain to someone what you wanted with a blindfold on without knowing some technical. So, I would have to say 100% of each. A techno-geek overflowing with creativity!  Very Happy

2. Cold. At first. Get something to work with and then let the artist or producer decide if it's going in the right direction or needs to be tweaked. Sometimes the artist can only hear something one way and can't get that out of the head long enough to be open to other's interpretation of it. That's art! It's subjective. Although, the artist knows ultimately what he wants to hear... maybe he hadn't thought of something that the mixer has done. You wouldn't want him totally turned off from the get-go.

3. Read no. 2! It's definitely not easier. Unless, of course, time is an extreme factor and the artist is adamant about the sound.

4. Uh... no. I would confer with the artist or group and ask if they would like to try and add it to see if it grooves.

5. Safe.  Laughing No.. Balanced. Clean.

6. Detailed. Perfectionist. Personal. I care about what I'm doing and it is not unusual for me to go the extra mile for both of us to be happy.
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Tom C

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2007, 06:19:09 pm »

Here we go:

j.hall wrote on Tue, 19 June 2007 21:04


1.  assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus.  what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)


1 part artist, 2 parts engineer, 3 parts producer


Quote:


2.  as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?


If there's enough time and money, I prefer the completely cold approach because you're able to add something new, or show the artist something that's in the song he didn't even realized.
You could still bring it back to something more to the artist's intention.

With time and/or money constrains I prefer to have as much information as possible to avoid lots of recalls.


Quote:


3.  as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?



Alone, at least until the mix is about 90% finished.

Quote:


4.  assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?



Yes. Of course I do not invest serious time in the void.
I do a scratch demo and ask the artist for feedback.


Quote:


5.  if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?



Conservative.


Quote:


6.  how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?



Dunno if that's a style, but in general I try to create an open and wide soundscape with lots of dynamics.
Most probably a result of my film composer roots.

Tom
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Fox

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2007, 06:40:51 pm »

Alright, I haven't submitted a mix yet because I've been to busy to make the deadlines, but I have mixed the last 2 IMPs.

Here goes:

1) A good balance of them, but it depends on the situation. If there is no producer, I'll do more of that job, while if it's a band that feels a little more comfortable with me I'll be a little more of an artist, and if it's a client who knows what they're doing and just wants something done documentary style, I'm more of an engineer type. Really situation specific.

2) I prefer to get to know the band pretty well before we start if possible. I like to know their influences, what sound they're shooting for, what they're all about really, and then I strive for that. Works so far, anyway.

3)Unless I've worked with them before or I know they understand the process somewhat, I'll work alone, and they'll be present for recalls or approval.

4)Nope. If they wanted it there, it would be there. I might try to suggest it to them, but I'll never stick something extra in just like that.

5) Depends on the genre being done, but I've been told by clients that my mixes always sound "clear." Iunno.

6)I'd say that I tend to take a stripped down approach to mixing. I like to stick to the less is more philosophy; The only problem with this is that whatever is kept in the forefront better be damned good, else everything falls apart. I value clarity and separation.

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Greg Dixon

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2007, 07:20:48 pm »

OK without reading any other answers,

1. I think a mixer should know the technical side, so it doesn't distract from the creative side of mixing. Don't know the ration, but fairly even blend of artist and engineer, with a small part producer.

2. It depends on what the client wants. If they want something specific, then you need to know that before you start. If I'm mixing something I haven't tracked, then I like to check with the client as to what they're wanting. If I've tracked it, I rarely ask for direction.

3. I prefer to work alone, until I'm pretty much happy. I find I get a better mix without the distractions and interruptions. The client then gets to hear it finished and with fresh ears, not having gotten over hearing it hours before.

4. I would never add tracks to a mix. If I thought it needed something I would suggest it though.

5. That's hard! Fairly natural and unobtrusive as a mixer. Doesn't enforce his agenda on my song.

6. The invisible mixer. You hear the song, more than the mix.
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CHANCE

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2007, 07:50:05 pm »

1.
I would say that the ideal blend would be 2 parts producer and 2 parts engineer and leave the "artist" part to the client.

2.
I like going into a mix "cold" with fresh ears. (if I tracked it)

3.
As a mixer, on mix day, I like to have the best mix that I can get,  BEFORE the client/producer arrives for mixing. Then use their input/feedback as to what THEY want.

4.
If I have "free reign" I'll do what ever it takes to get the best possible product.

5.
Third person describing my mixing ?  Thinking outside the box. Trying to be original, and exploring new ideas.

6.
My description of me as a mixer is to not give up until the client is happy with his mix
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maxim

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2007, 09:12:15 pm »

"1. assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus. what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)"

all three in equal measures


"2. as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?"

as i mentioned in the imp12, i'd like to have a "mission statement" from the artist, accompanying the tracks

also, a basic mix is not a bad idea

otherwise, as cold as possible..


"3. as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?"

alone


"4. assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?"

for this exercise, i think adding tracks is an unnecessary complication

otherwise, imo, anything goes


"5. if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?"

what are the options?



"6. how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?"

erratic




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grantis

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2007, 10:59:16 pm »

Quote:

1. assuming that enginner is a technical thing, artist is artistic, and producer is marrying the two, and bringing third party focus. what would your ideal blend of a mixer look like (i. e. one part engineer, one part artist, two parts producer)


in sevenths.....1 part artist, 2 parts engineer, 4 parts producer

Quote:

2. as a mixer, is it better to go into a mix completely cold (never hearing the song or having artist input) or going in with a lot of input from the client?


cold.  easier to use my producer side and be creative.

Quote:

3. as a mixer, is it better to work alone, or with clients in the room while you mix?


alone, no question

Quote:

4. assuming you have free reign on a mix, is it appropriate to add tracks should you feel it really makes a difference?


NO, unless you're talking about crazy FX that sound nothing like the source audio.  Never should an engineer...producer...whatever play guitar on someone else's record unless asked....etc.

Quote:

5. if you were to listen to your work as a third person, how would you describe your style as a mixer?


FM radio baby

Quote:

6. how do you, yourself, describe your style as a mixer?


FM radio baby
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Gabriel F

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Re: thoughts and questions (generated from IMP)
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2007, 11:21:18 pm »

I was about to say the same about the quality of the mixes this time. Lots of mixes and not even one with obvious technical problems, thats awesome because it shows that the IMP works.

1. A great engineer should adapt himself to the song. some songs need more work in the technical aspects and some need more creative input, but an ideal blend would something like 6 parts engineer, 1.5 parts artist and 2.5 parts producer.

2. I like to go completely cold or a little input (and maybe ask  something specific having heard the song).

3. Alone and maybe with only one band member or producer on the final touches.

4. If you do something like play a guitar overdub or something like that I believe it is wrong if you dont ask the band and i would do this only if that overdub really really makes the song better (meaning i wont do it just to satisfy  my ego).

5. A little bit on the safe side, not very creative but touches of it sometimes. Nice balance of instruments. Understands the vibe of the song almost perfectly but lacks a 20 to 30 % to get it there.

6. I little bit conservative. with my heart on the seventies rock sound but i adapt easily to others styles. And i like loud drums almost all the time. And i dont care much for fake perfection like perfect tuned vocals and perfect machine timing. I tend to sacrifice perfection for vibe.
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