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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Terry Manning => Topic started by: compasspnt on March 28, 2005, 11:55:56 pm

Title: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 28, 2005, 11:55:56 pm
I'm starting this thread because of some interesting posts on the (almost ill-fated) Zoolander thread, some of which I will move here below.

I agree that there often seems to be the need for outside mixing of one's project.  But I've never had it work out to my satisfaction.

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.

Back in the mid-80's I had a conversation with Bob Clearmountain about this when we were both up at Masterdisk with Bob Ludwig one day .  At the time, he was producing several projects, such as Bryan Adams and others, as well as performing his customary mixing for so many.  He agreed that as Producer, it sometimes felt like someone else should mix the project one had spent so long in preparing.  We jokingly said that we would swap...he would mix my productions, and I would mix his.  Now, I am quite sure that Bob really didn't want me mixing his stuff, and was just making an offhand comment...of course, I would much more have welcomed his mixes!  But in the end, even if this small talk had come to more fruition, I doubt that even I would have done it.  Bob has never mixed one of my things, so I can't comment with experience (but I admire his work so very much that I'm sure it would have been great), but I have had several other REALLY-BIG-NAME mixers mix things I tracked and/or produced, and I have never found any of them to be totally satisfactory, according to my vision of what it should have been (and what I believe I would have done myself).

One example of this was several years ago when I engineered all tracking and overdubbing of a very well known group's album.  I had stated at the very beginning that I would love to engineer it, but I would not accept the mixing...why?  Because their previous album had been mixed by Tom L-A, and I thought that it was brilliant (no, I don't like everything he does, in fact I DON'T like a lot of it...but this one was really good, just what the project needed).  It made no sense to me for ANYONE else to mix their new one!  So I made a conscious effort in tracking to just get very good, clean sounds, untreated by effects.  I made sure that there was a perfect set of building blocks there which he could mangle and manipulate in whatever ways he thought best...I believed that this would provide the best album for the group.  But at the end of the day, TLA wanted so much money to do it, the group balked (after throwing up).  I was by then already booked for another project right when this one's tracking finished, so another well known mixer was given the job.  He did absolutely NOTHING at all to the tracks.  No effects, no level changes, no NOTHING; in fact, barely even reverb.  Sounded like faders just set to basic levels, and the tapes copied.  If I had known this, I would have performed many effects and other production values, recorded onto the multi's.  The album was effectively ruined.  The group agreed, and knew all of this, but was so much past the deadlines, and with som much money already spent, they just sadly went with it.  Not a very pretty picture!

Anyway, the upshot of all this is, that I have just decided to always mix my own stuff...it's the only way I think I will get what I want.  But I still sure wish I had that 2 weeks...
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 29, 2005, 12:00:38 am
drumsound wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 16:57

I don't even know if I should add to this thread.  There' a lot of things happening and I have thoughts though....

I'm also totally on board with William.  Records should be mixed by the engineer/producer who made them in the first place.  I often know certain things that will happen in a mix well before I'm at that stage.  If I hand the record off, how do I know that those things will happen?  I do commit a lot of things to tape.  I want an odd, pointy guitar, I set up that sound in the room and then record it that way.  But I try to get a good level to tape for S/N ratio even if I know it will be low in the mix.  An outside mixer might crank that part and change the whole feel it was meant to add to the mix.

I like having 24-tracks.  I also like not even using them all.  Unlimited tracks and long record lengths are not helping our industry for the most part.  There are exceptions to the rule of course and I don't think that these things a bad in and of themselves, but I think they help 5-8% of the time and detract 92-98% of the time.  2% of the time they're just right.  

To address J Hall, Ross and others, I also agree that we shouldn't spend our time making broad stroked "this guy sucks" comments, but I have no problem with informed, specific criticisms (of me, my work or choices or of others).


Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 29, 2005, 12:03:27 am
strawberrius wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 17:36

i have produced/recorded songs mixed by most of the big dogs. in some cases, i chose who would mix and in others, the label chose. you have to remember that not all producers/engineers are even allowed to mix their own records these days (even if they are excellent at it). especially when those records get up into the competitive "million seller" category. but in the last several years i have become real good at printing the sounds and FX that i want in the final mix. there actually is an art to preparing Protools Files for these guys.

for instance, TLA & CLA want essentially "block audio" with no plugins whatsoever.  in JJP's case, he likes to get the PT session as i last had it... plugins/drum samples/unconsolidated fades and all. I'm in the middle of mixing several different artists with clearmountain right now and he is cool enuff to throw in the 5.1 mix at the same time.

i love to mix and essentially do mix every project on ProTools b4 i send it to these guys.  but.....
i must say after working on a grueling album for 3 months, the last thing i want to do is mix it/open up that can of worms.... so i'm all in favor of other people mixing my records.  and all of the above have been excellent at working with me and my mix comments (including a/b'ing to my protools 'ruff' mix). in the end it usually makes for a happier artist, producer & label.

just my 2 cents.

-jrf

Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 29, 2005, 12:05:00 am
Ryan Moore wrote on Mon, 28 March 2005 03:46

FWIW - speaking about outside mixers,
I did once work on a project as a muso where the recording engineer just rocked in getting great sounds, being part of the vibe, being a creative editing hero etc etc & when it came to doing some mixes it was obvious it was just not 'there'..I was surprised by that,
Anyway, a 3rd party was brought in to mix and he did a great job, taking it to the next level..
The orig engineer did the final mastering BTW..
So in that case the tag team approach really did make the trax & album the best it could be..
I do appreciate though that it had a lot to do with this <particular> mixer and his connection to the music and the people doing the project (not meaning croneyism but being on the same 'wavelength'), in short being the perfect man for the job  eg: just hiring in 'a mixer' or sending it to LA to run through 100 compressor channels or whatever would have ruined dinner,,.

Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 29, 2005, 12:06:30 am
steveeastend wrote on Mon, 28 March 2005 07:54



I can second that. I wish there would be more affordable, good guys around my area... Mixing, after months of arranging, playing and producing (because that?s  90% of my job), can be really a hard time. Everyone?s finally happy with the takes, arrangements, sound etc. and than there is this kind of relief from the artists side..... "think we made it, just mix and let go... .. JUST mix it.... I wish it would be that simple....

cheers
steveeastend


Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Curve Dominant on March 29, 2005, 01:29:58 am
Terry,

I like to mix.

Don't even ask me why I'm chiming in on this thread. I'm not in the big leagues (yet), so I have absolutely no business chiming in on this thread. I'm just an obscure up-and-comer here in Philly, dicking around in my studio...but I'm up late, and I stumbled upon this thread, so fuck it...here goes:

I like to mix.

I start mixing when tracking starts.

Sometimes, I start mixing BEFORE tracking starts. When I'm sitting around with the artist, with nothing but an acoustic guitar and the lyric sheet, I'm already hearing the mix in my head.

Sometimes I'm hearing the mix BEFORE THAT...I'm hearing the mix before the artist gets to my studio...before he/she even gets up out of bed that morning, I'm hearing the mix.

Often times, I just LOOK at the artist, and I know what the mix should sound like.

Where the hell am I going with this?? OK...here goes:

The Art Of War

"The victorious general wins the battle before stepping upon the battlefield. His victory is predetermined."

Here's another try:

The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

"Begin with an end in mind."

I'm not trying to preach to you, Terry. You are the master, and I am the student. What I'm trying to say, is that this is the lesson you are trying to teach us. (???)...
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: stevieeastend on March 29, 2005, 09:52:03 am
Terry,

your story  of your experience with this famous group, which has been put down by this mixer is really a sad one. I really feel sorry for this group. But to be honest, it is so hard for me to image that there are not a bunch of really good guys out there, who will do their job properly to a reasonable price and who do care. If somebody like you, who got a lot of experience and knowledge of the business and great reputation as well is not able to find a mixer, who jumps in, just in case somebody fails or in case you really cannot find any time, how should I can? This sounds like very bad news to me!!!

cheers
steveeastend
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: henchman on March 29, 2005, 10:06:05 am
I was recently asked to  mix a couple of songs for an artist.
After listenning to the album, I agreed. But only if I would be allowed to remix a third song for free. As I felt that this particular song deserved a better mix.

I hate when a song get's buried becasue of a bad mix.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 29, 2005, 10:18:20 am
steveeastend wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 09:52

Terry,

your story  of your experience with this famous group, which has been put down by this mixer is really a sad one. I really feel sorry for this group. But to be honest, it is so hard for me to image that there are not a bunch of really good guys out there, who will do their job properly to a reasonable price and who do care. If somebody like you, who got a lot of experience and knowledge of the business and great reputation as well is not able to find a mixer, who jumps in, just in case somebody fails or in case you really cannot find any time, how should I can?


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.

Secondly, I didn't try to find the mixer, or hire him...it was completely the label and band's doing.

But had I  known all of this in advance, I believe I could have helped the record much more than I did.

Thanks for your posts!
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: stevieeastend on March 29, 2005, 11:00:25 am
Hi Terry,

hope my post was not kind of unpolite or something, that?s the last thing I wanted...

But I get you. The only way to have the job done according to the vision is to mix it yourself.  I just don?t want to accept that even on your level it is not possible to just let go.... Actually this has been something I?ve been dreaming of for so long. Just hand it to the mixer and await exactly what I wanted... sweet dream Wink

cheers
steveeastend
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: henchman on March 29, 2005, 11:07:42 am
Eric Vincent wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 01:29



Sometimes I'm hearing the mix BEFORE THAT...I'm hearing the mix before the artist gets to my studio...before he/she even gets up out of bed that morning, I'm hearing the mix.

Often times, I just LOOK at the artist, and I know what the mix should sound like.




This is the biggest pile of nonsense I've ever read.

Come back down to planet earth Eric.

Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Curve Dominant on March 29, 2005, 11:34:20 am
henchman wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 17:07

Eric Vincent wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 01:29

Sometimes I'm hearing the mix BEFORE THAT...I'm hearing the mix before the artist gets to my studio...before he/she even gets up out of bed that morning, I'm hearing the mix.

Often times, I just LOOK at the artist, and I know what the mix should sound like.



This is the biggest pile of nonsense I've ever read.

Come back down to planet earth Eric.


And get a job as a post engineer?

NEVER!!!
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: RMoore on March 29, 2005, 05:30:20 pm
I was at a mastering session today - the ME remarked one tune had a great balance & I had to admit the track had been mixed by an <outside> mixer: Stephen Stanley..

Unlike my special needs mixes Smile

I believe he worked a lot at Compass Point back in the day or was even house engineer (?)...

I will be doing another album mastering session tomorrow with ALL Stephen Stanley mixes...don't anticipate much work needed there (!)..
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 29, 2005, 06:40:42 pm
Terry, I have a suggestion: Send me your tired, poor, muddled tracks yearning to be mixed ... or let me take a swing at one or two to audition for the gig, at least.  

Very Happy

But I understand not wanting to mix and listen to the same fucking song, all day and night, ad nauseum.  I did an interesting thing once with a band; We did four songs then mixed them.  Then we did four more, etc.  Not only did it help in mixing, because I actually remembered certain things I intended to do in the mix, it made the overdub process not seem so assembly line.  I thought it worked quite well.

Mixing is one of those things.  Sometimes it just all falls together so easily, and some mixes are a battle.  And whenever I'm in one of those battles, I am always wishing that somebody else were mixing.  But in the end, if I have enough time to get it to where I want it, I'm ususally happy with the result.  I just never want to hear the damn song again.

And then there's the ultimate pain in the ass ... when somebody shows up with a tape for you to mix with no tones and it was tracked on a different type of machine, and the engineer that you call to ask where the tones are says, "Oh, I didn't print any. Just align it to +6."  Align this, asshole.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Greg Dixon on March 29, 2005, 06:45:02 pm
Hi Terry,
I actually do, on a lot of albums, take a break before mixing. I just work on the client as we go, explaining that while I'm keen to hear the finished mixes too, I know that they will be better if I have a break from the tracks before I start mixing. In most cases, it's only a few days, but even that helps. As I appear to be nowhere as busy as you and rarely do work for labels, it's probably easier for me to pull off.

I've only had other engineers mix my stuff on a few occasions and I've never been happy with the results either. There was one occasion, a few years back, where I was doing 4 songs, with a regular client, to go on a compilation album. The record label wanted all the tracks mixed by the one person, to bring consistency to the project. The trouble was, that this mixer was an unknown quantity. All we knew, was that they were from interstate and the record company were convinced that this person would do a better job. I managed to convince the client that it was too big a risk to take and he fought really hard, to let them have me mix his tracks. They agreed, as long as the other engineer could be at the mix sessions. The other engineer hated a lot of the sounds we had, especially the electric guitars. Anyway, so we did a compromise mix, which I don't think any of us really liked. A couple of days later, on my own time, I mixed them by myself and we submitted those mixes. No one has ever said anything, but we are so glad we didn't let the other engineer mix. When we got to mastering and heard the other songs, they were terrible. They hadn't been tracked well and the mix was all mids! It's the only time I've appreciated a mastering engineer, having the ability to 're-mix' through M/S type processing. He saved the other tracks, but we still looked great in comparison to the rest of the album. I found out latter, that this engineer had won an engineer of the year award, before they'd moved! Now, if they'd wanted Bob Clearmountain to mix the tracks, cool, as long as I could be there. Very Happy

Greg
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: maxim 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
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: John Ivan 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: wwittman 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Brian Kehew 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Fibes 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: jfrigo 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."
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: henchman 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Gordon Rice 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
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Jason Phair 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!
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: zmix 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
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Fibes 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: J.J. Blair 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: stevieeastend 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....

Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Fibes 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.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 30, 2005, 03:58:37 pm
jfrigo wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 09:29

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."



Yes, you are exactly right...for everyone else.  As for me, I am perfect, so I won't need that...




Edit:  Just kidding, of course!
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 30, 2005, 04:00:11 pm
J.J. wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 13:48

...

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?...


Do you have a bug in my control room?
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: j.hall on March 30, 2005, 04:20:09 pm
Fibes wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 07:41


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.



hey, i resemble that remark.............................

anyway.....

i've been a mixer for hire for a few years now.  didn't plan it this way it just happened.  i still cut records from time to time but for the most part, low budget indie rock records keep landing at my door for mixing.  i stopped fighting it 3 years ago and just went with it.

i work on records that have a TOTAL budget of 1k - 10k.  so that should keep my fees, and "status" in perspective.

i got sick of renting full studios to mix and having to get bands pay a room rate and my rate, so i built a mix only room about a year ago.

so, coming from my perspecitve i can only add this.

i believe myself to be a fresh perspective into a project.  i have yet to be told that i make the same sounding record over and over, and i have yet to mix any record the same.  my room is very humble (i run out of patch cables nearly every time) and i'm gaining clients rapidly.

i think finding a mixer that can approach music as art (not saying i do, or can) is the key element.  you get so close to a project that you just can't see the forrestt through the trees anymore.  

i've remixed records for bands for literally pennies just because the originals were so awful and they were out of budget, i liked the music and agreed to TRY and help.  

personally, i feel as though the day you convince yourself that you're work is good, is the day you can no longer make a record.

i haven't mixed a single record in my short 8 year career that i've been happy with, or even liked the end mix for that matter.

i think my point here is this.  creating a "be all end all" way of making records is a giant mistake.  if you say, "i'll never hire a mixer", you just cut off a whole set of "tools" that might be the perfect choice some day.

i personally think the biggest problem in record production today is the mindset that things HAVE to be done a certain way.

we have to edit the drums to flawless tempo perfection, the vocals MUST be autotuned......

i say, stop thinking about these "rules" and start listening to the art, let the art be the guiding light.

i've destroyed more brilliant tracks trying to create a vibe that got edited out then i can stomach.

and i've cursed not having sound replacer for the AWFUL basement recordings then i want to remember.

SERVE THE ART....if that means paying a lowly guy like me to mix your record, i'm sure my son will be happy he gets to eat that day cause his mixer dad finally got hired.

that being said, i'm disgusted at what some of these big name guys charge for mixing.  they mop the floor with me, but come on.....it's just INSANE to continue paying those rates.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Greg Dixon on March 30, 2005, 06:17:38 pm
I too, don't let clients stay in the room when I mix. Doing that, probably improved my mixes more than anything else (not to mention my sanity Shocked) !

Some clients get concerned about not being in there with me, but there's never been a problem, as I've done the tracking and know what needs doing. One of the great things about doing it this way, is that quite often, the come in and say that it sounds even better than they were expecting. If I didn't track it, it's a different story.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 30, 2005, 07:07:43 pm
Jason, I have to take issue with you saying, when "you feel as though the day you convince yourself that you're work is good, is the day you can no longer make a record."  

There are many projects I've done where I didn't know what it was going to sound like going in, and I came out the other end with a result that tickled me shitless.  Pleased as punch, even.  Of course, not every project makes me feel that way and sometimes I feel one way and the artist feels differently.  However, if I didn't derive satisfaction from the end result, I couldn't do this for a living, because knowing that I'm good at it is part of why I love doing it.

I love to listen to some things I've done, and sometimes I love it except for one little thing.  Case in point: The reason I always keep reiterating to check your mixes in mono before you print them.  The first album that I ever did that was released on a major. We tracked the whole thing and mixed in twelve working days, with one day off.  We mixed at a rate of two songs a day and sometimes when something felt like it was missing from the mix, I played it there on the spot during mixing (as I often do).  This was before ProTools, also.  Point being, with only coffee to keep me going, I was toast.  Anyway, there was this acoustic guitar solo that I decided to run through a Leslie 125 which I brought back into the mix in stereo.  It sounded very American Beauty.  I didn't realize that the two sides were out of phase 180 degrees, and I was too burnt or too green to hear this at the time.  So of course I'm eating dinner in Nashville with an artist I'm recording, and this song comes on the restaurant stereo, which is piped out in mono.  The guitar solo is missing and my heart sank.  I wanted to crawl under the table.

I generally hate listening parties, too.  I am cringing the whole time thinking about what I should have done differently.  LOL.

But otherwise, there's absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging that you did  good job on a mix.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Greg Dixon on March 30, 2005, 07:25:30 pm
I think JJ's right about feeling good about what you do, but I think it's the knowing that what you've done isn't perfect, that keeps us getting better.

Without that drive to improve, I doubt many of us would be spending our time here.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: j.hall on March 30, 2005, 07:41:03 pm
J.J. wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 18:07


But otherwise, there's absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging that you did  good job on a mix.


that's past tense, and i'm fine with that.  i'm never happy with my mixes, but i can listen to them and think that another person might find them good.

what i meant by that statement was:

the day you think that whatever you touch turns to gold and you are this incredible engineer that does no wrong......you're spent....you can't make a good record cause your own agends just got in the way.

i have plenty of friends who are happy with their work and are very humble engineers.

i'm not talking aobut any of that.  i'm talking about straight up ego.

i've met my fair share of guys that think they are god's gift to producing or mixing or whatever.

does that make any sense?  
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 30, 2005, 07:43:55 pm
Oh!  You mean like Mr. Mullet!   Very Happy
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 30, 2005, 11:08:41 pm
clears throat
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Norwood on March 30, 2005, 11:34:13 pm
I read somewhere something that Stave Albini said.  He said,"Deep down every engineer has this feeling that they don't measure up." Or something to that extent.  That sure rings true with me.  I think I'm pretty good at what I do, but everytime I show a mix to a client, I always have a sinking feeling that they're gonna say, "Gimme the masters, I'm gonna get this remixed by ____________."  I guess it keeps me sharp, and learning.
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: djui5 on March 30, 2005, 11:53:42 pm
Norwood wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 21:34

I read somewhere something that Stave Albini said.  He said,"Deep down every engineer has this feeling that they don't measure up......



...and sooner or later the client is going to notice"
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: ajcamlet on March 31, 2005, 09:40:47 am
J.J. wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 13:48

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.



This is completely on the money!!!!
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Fibes on March 31, 2005, 10:15:52 am
J.

I was waiting for that but in the context of this thread the exceptions are not the rule.

My problem is the fact that the industry is almost set on getting straight to the remix before the mix has ever been done. Hell, I resemble the notion that it takes a fresh perspective to "get a hit." That's what i'm talking about. There's a big difference between an indy band picking a mixer who they respect and a major label assuming they need to send it to the mullet mill for it to recoup.

I personally wanted every single one of my bands songs to be mixed by someone else on these boards since I tracked, played on, recorded, rerecorded, produced, babysat and mixed everything. Talk about burnt and too close (wait, you understand). I almost asked a bunch of mixers on here but since there ain't cash, i ain't asking.

Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: jfrigo on March 31, 2005, 10:16:33 am
compasspnt wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 12:58

jfrigo wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 09:29

(snipped)



Yes, you are exactly right...for everyone else.  As for me, I am perfect, so I won't need that...




Edit:  Just kidding, of course!



Perfect! Thank goodness I'm not the only one! We should start a club or something...   Wink
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 31, 2005, 10:52:11 am
I remember a session, that thank god I was not engineering, where the A&R guy I knew very well was sitting there, and  while the band was tracking he started complaining to the engineer about the lack of low end.  Not only was the A&R guy a completely talentless poseur who had no business having that job, it never occurred to him that it could have been: A) the location of the room where he was sitting B) the particular mix that the engineer wanted to hear  C) none of his fucking business, so he should just shut up and not tell the professionals how to do their job.

Imagine if he had been there for mixing!
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: maxim on March 31, 2005, 04:18:55 pm
terry wroye:

"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. "

i guess, there's never one "right" version in art

as an artist/producer, i'm far too paranoid to hand over my "vision" to someone else

i'd rather screw it up and learn from my mistake, than hand it over to someone else

there are so many intuitive processes that go into creating a piece, that i feel, unless i'm sure that the other person is on my wavelength, they would miss the point

having said that, two minds can be better than one

but, too many cooks spoil the broth

and stitch in time saves nine

also, rolling stones gather no (ian) moss

etcetera etcetera

Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: compasspnt on March 31, 2005, 06:13:04 pm
maxim wrote on Thu, 31 March 2005 16:18

...there are so many intuitive processes that go into creating a piece, that i feel, unless i'm sure that the other person is on my wavelength, they would miss the point

having said that, two minds can be better than one

but, too many cooks spoil the broth

and stitch in time saves nine

also, rolling stones gather no (ian) moss

etcetera etcetera




You may have a valid point here, but you have forgotten that...


...a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: Kennyd03 on March 31, 2005, 06:36:38 pm
J.J. wrote on Thu, 31 March 2005 07:52

I remember a session, that thank god I was not engineering, where the A&R guy I knew very well was sitting there, and  while the band was tracking he started complaining to the engineer about the lack of low end.  Not only was the A&R guy a completely talentless poseur who had no business having that job, it never occurred to him that it could have been: A) the location of the room where he was sitting B) the particular mix that the engineer wanted to hear  C) none of his fucking business, so he should just shut up and not tell the professionals how to do their job.

Imagine if he had been there for mixing!


Hey J.J. - I think we've all been there to some degree or another. Thus the "people management" task, which is really such a huge part of the job, comes into play. It seems like most successful engineers are good "people" people and can navigate their way through minefields like the situation above. That's one thing not taught in a lot of recording schools.

I personally like the challenge of recording -- knowing that someone else is going to mix it. When doing this, I have the goal of inspiring the mixing engineer, once he hears the basic tracks, realizing that he/she doesn't have to spend time slogging through "fixes," and having creative sounds to work with.

-KD03
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: maxim on March 31, 2005, 10:33:17 pm
terry wrote:

"...a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush! "

yes, but how much would you give to have bush in your hand?

especially, if you were allowed to squeeze very very hard
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: stevieeastend on March 31, 2005, 11:37:38 pm
maxim wrote on Thu, 31 March 2005 22:18

terry wroye:


there are so many intuitive processes that go into creating a piece, that i feel, unless i'm sure that the other person is on my wavelength, they would miss the point






There are two interesting point in this one. Firstly it reminds me that my best mixes are almost always the ones when  I mix during arranging.  These "intuitive" mixes, where you not really put the whole concentration on a particualar mixing issue like "now let?s mult the drums off and do the parallel compression thing etc.." are for some reasons my best ones.  
They almost always got that certain something in comparison to the strictly "brain-driven" mixes.
The mistake I almost always do in mixing is to overdo things. I would try two compressor just because I think it might be a cool thing to do. During an "intuitive" mix I only would grab for the second compressor when I would get the "feeling" it?s really necessary. I would then rather avoid things, which I would have done just for "gear-"sake" or "I am the best technical mixer in the world-thing". An intutitive mix  keeps the vibe of the songs, usually includes a couple of technical mixing mistakes but never sound that blown up or artifical as a "brain-driven" one in my case.
JJ, is this the reason why you don?t like the mixes of JJP? And maybe that?s the reason why the mixes of CLA, and Bob Clearmountain are that great? I read that they mix very fast and it usually take them only a couple of hours. By doing so you cannot be too picky about any detail despite of their great knowledge and experience.
Sorry when this sounds a little vague but I will think about  some better examples and arguments about that....

And for "one-vision-mixers-goal" I think that in my case I am glad that nobody else got my visions.
It would be scary to have someone else around doing the same thing and the greatest danger to my business as well, I guess. So I think it is simply not possible to be 1000% satisified when someone else mixes your stuff. But is this really necessary?  

Artists, A&Rs and cosumers are so used to a certain, modern sound that a specialist usually should help to bring the arrangements, sound design etc.the producer and arranger have created to the next level. He should bring in fresh ideas, listen to my "visions-mix" and should be aware of how to achieve a certain style in a technical way. Besides that he shouldn?t cost too much ....Wink.... asking too much?

cheers
steveeastend
Title: Re: The Great Mixing Dilemma
Post by: maxim on April 01, 2005, 01:33:45 am
i think it's the right v left hemisphere issue