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Author Topic: The Great Mixing Dilemma  (Read 21080 times)

maxim

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2005, 08:10:30 pm »

it sure helps to have the luxury of time (and instant recall)

out of good, cheap and fast, i eliminated fast

a couple of days perspective is good, a couple of weeks even better
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John Ivan

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2005, 09:33:14 pm »

This NO TIME problem snuck up on me on the last full record I did. I produced, which just means I arranged the band and played a lot of guitars and so on. The tracking went fine and the client dug all the sounds. The problem came when there was really no break before mixing and the dead line was coming quick. I mixed 1 song per day for a while but, I got behind on some edits and wanted to re-print some lead vox. After this much time on this thing in tracking,I was ready to get the hell away from it. The client really likes it but, it is not my best mixing work and I wish I could re-mix the whole thing.

I heard it for the first time in a while the other day and it's not as bad as I remember but, still, I need a break before I mix.
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wwittman

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2005, 01:24:29 am »

I completely agree.

I WISH I could find someone to just mix my records and I'd love them.
But I never have.

I had a running relationship with Dave Thoener for a while mixing records I produced.
And he was by far the closest.
But even with Dave, who I know really well and who is terrific, it still lost a little something for me in the translation.. or at least traded a little something for something else.

Probably my happiest mixes are the ones I did with John Agnello who usually had sat through all the recording with me and shared the mix agony as well.
I could be as hands on or hands off as I wanted at any given stage and he was always right there.
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Brian Kehew

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2005, 05:51:33 am »

Maybe it's in the "setting" and the approach.

I think mixing is my favorite aspect of studio work. But ONLY if the people I'm mixing for have a "positive mix attitude" - that is, if they can be open to things and are generally supportive. Their attitude makes ALL the difference in whether I enjoy the work, and how I approach it. If they are "picky people" - I play it very safe and worry about needless details.

However, I record VERY quickly and mix very quickly. Last week we did a Morrissey mix and spent 6.5 hours on it - I told the producer that was the longest I have spent on a single mix in over two years! I just have an "old way" of working; a pre-Fleetwood Mac style. OIt's fun and interesting to move quickly. I think if you spend less time tracking and overdubbing, you don't get that sick of anything, and your understanding of the track is still growing, not limited by overexposure.
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compasspnt

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2005, 06:41:54 am »

So the question becomes, is our vision, which is only achievable by  mixing our own tracked and produced music ourselves, the best and correct presentation of that music to "the world" in general, or is it merely the closest thing to our own mental image of it?  This may not be answerable.
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Fibes

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2005, 08:41:23 am »

compasspnt wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 06:41

So the question becomes, is our vision, which is only achievable by  mixing our own tracked and produced music ourselves, the best and correct presentation of that music to "the world" in general, or is it merely the closest thing to our own mental image of it?  This may not be answerable.


It's not answerable. I have witnessed magic come from "name mixers" on my tracks. i have also witnessed train wrecks that were merely different train wrecks than i would have brought to the table being burnt out and rushed on the project. The question is if the material is still art when it's passed off to another mixer. I say yes but the closer you get to visionary the more the team needs to be on board from cradle to grave IMO.

Some of the most cool records i own were mixed by the producer and tracked while the producer watched over the big picture. The producer in most of these cases was a great mix engineer already and "happened" into producing. The plus of this arrangement is he/she was there thoughout, but not inside the tiresome minutae every single minute. Much like a captain that takes complete control when the time comes to sail into a treacherous port. If the tracking engineer is "on board" with the producer this method can be incredible, but, the team as in any case has to all be 1150% talent and vision.

How's that for talking around an answer? I just think the industry on the whole is too reliant on "mixing hits" instead of making art. Art, like our favorite records of the past has staying power and currently the industry's living off a lot of scraps from bygone eras. Call me crazy but it's hard to see much of those "long game" artists out there today.
Due to the new internet exposure it may mean that completely indy artists get discovered out of nowhere and become the new classic vanguard years from now. The underground once again rises up and lets its presence be known.

Where the art is.

Uh, i need coffee.
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Fibes
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jfrigo

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2005, 09:29:28 am »

An outside mixer is not necessarily a bad thing if there is a producer or artist involved to explain the vision and the plan from tracking. I think the people involved in a long tracking process can get too close to a project and get ideas stuck in their heads that may not be best for the music. We should be open to altering our pre-conceptions. At the same time, one most likely can't come in at the end with no direction at all and just "get it."

I think more people should welcome the fresh perspective, but it should be accompanied by some direction, either in person, or at least through good notes and feedback early on. A mixer who is uncommunicative is the wrong person to hire. And I think committing to certain things in tracking is definitely a good idea. So many people don't have a clear vision and the project is a mess when it comes time to mix. The session should be well enough produced as to make certain mix intentions clear. It also helps the overdubs fit better when the existing tracks are already cohesively supporting the ultimate vision. This doesn't mean that experimentation and happy accidents aren't welcome, but it does mean that you should not be saying after every take, "I don't know. Let's just do this for now and figure it out later."
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henchman

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2005, 09:51:15 am »

When I mix for soemone else, I find out what they envision.
I also will get the rough mixes, as they can give alot of insight as to how they are wanting to hear it.
Then, I'll try and improve on the ideas in the rough mix, as well as throw in some ideas of my own.
If the band likes the ideas I throw in, great, if not, I go back and adhere to their idea of what they want.
I can merely advise against choices I think are bad.

Because at the end of the day, it's their record. Not mine.

It's about making it better, not completely different.

Gordon Rice

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2005, 09:57:32 am »

compasspnt wrote on Mon, 28 March 2005 23:55


Once all of the pre-production, tracking, overdubbing, vocalising, comping, re-overdubbing, re-comping, etc., etc., etc., is finally finished, I almost always just DREAD the mix.  Don't get me wrong, I like the mixing process.  It's just that in many cases, no matter how much I like the music, I've just had enough of it for awhile.  I ALWAYS wish terribly for at least a couple of weeks between finishing recording and starting mixing.  Of course, this is NEVER a possibility.  Everyone is always in too big of a hurry.  So it just starts, and it always gets done, and it's usually pretty good.


Hear! Hear!  It seems that no-one ever has time to wait a couple of weeks between tracking and mixing, yet if they did the result would nearly always be better.  Case in point:  The project I'm remixing right now is coming out much better--first and most importantly because I've got some distance and am no longer totally immersed in the minutiae of each individual track (IOW I can see the forest instead of the trees), secondly because I have more time (this time around I've got the same time budget to mix the bloody thing that I had to cut and mix it the first time around).

Terry also mentioned that it's a bit of a crapshoot when somebody else mixes one's stuff.  No names here, but I've had the experience of spending two days cutting and rough mixing a song and some months later hearing the release consist of my rough mix with a rap and a saxophone solo overdubbed.  Was my name in the credits?  Nope.  I don't see anything wrong with what the person did in terms of audio (the rough wasn't bad--I kept a copy), but I do wish that the powers that be had given credit where it was due.

Ah well--it's probably well to remember what Dr. Thompson said about this business . . .

--gmr
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Jason Phair

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2005, 10:18:55 am »

compasspnt wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 10:18



First of all, the mixer in question did not do a bad job technically...in fact, it was textbook.  What he did not do was special, strange, or inspired things which might have helped make the tracks something more than they were (yes, this can sometimes happen).  That's what  I  knew TLA would have done with this, as he'd done it before.




Terry, I think you're being too kind here.

The dude just didn't his job.  Any monkey can make a textbook mix (shit, even I could do that  Razz

The mixer's job is to make the songs come alive, and if he didn't do that, then I'm of the opinion there's no need to mince words - he didn't do his job.


As to the original topic, well...I'm way too out of my league to be chiming in with you guys on that one!
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Jason Phair
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Get that fucking thing off my vocal will ya?

Thanks.

zmix

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2005, 10:19:22 am »

As an 'outside' mixer, I do understand the complex emotional dynamic involved. It's not necessarily a black or white issue. If somebody involved in the process thinks that the record is better served by outside help, then the creative process of the production team continues well into the mix, but the process is a bit different, and often unfamiliar territory.

I'd like to add the following thought, taken from a lecture that Igor Stravinsky gave at Harvard on the subject of composition. You will see how easily this applies to the discussion at hand, especially if you substitute the word "production" for 'work to be done' and "mixing" for 'arranging of materials':

"The idea of work to be done is for me so closely bound up with the idea of the arranging of materials and of the pleasure that the actual doing of the work affords us that, should the impossible happen and my work suddenly be given to me in a perfectly completed form, I should be embarrassed and nonplussed by it, as if by a hoax."


Involvement in the process is a key element.
-CZ

Fibes

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #26 on: March 30, 2005, 11:10:23 am »

...and maybe the nature of out of hand tracking makes surprises at mix time too easy. If all the tracks are there that NEED to be and nothing else there's less room for surprise fart tracks changing the end product. Great vision is usually easily picked up upon, a mess is just that, a mess.
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Fibes
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J.J. Blair

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #27 on: March 30, 2005, 01:48:37 pm »

Here's my favorite part of the mixing process, usually about 5 minutes into the mix:

artist: Can you do something about the guitar sound?

me: Sure, I'm dealing with the kick at this moment. I'll get to that in a bit.

artist: And we need more reverb on the vocal.

me: Right.  There's no reverb yet.  Let me finish dialing in this one thing nd I'll get to that eventually.

artist: Do you think the snare is too boxy?

me: (to my assistant)Marc, please grab the shotgun from behind the compressor rack.

I find it is usally necessary to have the artist there for a mix, but generally I won't let them come in until I have all the sounds, unless they know how to sit there and shut up until I'm ready for their input.
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stevieeastend

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #28 on: March 30, 2005, 02:01:49 pm »

Oh man, this is like the exact copy of the conversation between me and and my current client during the (almost finished) mixing session... Smile
some things seem to be the same any place....

Fibes

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Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
« Reply #29 on: March 30, 2005, 03:15:10 pm »

I mix alone for the most part. it's the most efficient for most of my clients but once everything is framed up and in place I have them come in with a fresh perspective and a fresh set of ears. If musicians could read your thoughts and go without blurting out untimely suggestions they'd be into synchronized swimming.
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Fibes
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