The Mix Process
So like I said, we're gonna prep for the british show you now how I prepped for a mix and then how I actually get a mixed started about an hour and a half will go inside one of my rock mixes in fact, we're gonna go inside two of my rock mixes on ben segment three and four were going toe mixing you saw mixes song that I've just barely heard so with that let's go over the process for mixing in my eyes, this chart here I think is really, really helpful for understanding exactly like what your process should be. So as you could see in tracking, which were obviously separate from the mixing process, you obviously want to get the best terms possible. I really like this command, but it's just now shall not fix it in the bix I'm sure you've seen this philosophy a million times if you've been reading interviews, but it really is so important that you don't wear down your ears, you know you one of the things I really, really hit home for me and, you know, I still consider myself a student and yo...
u know, when I watched pencils place and I saw greg wells talk about the idea that you could never hear our song the way first time listener hears that I really it really hit home and I know all my mixes that I've never been proud of and most of my friends who do big records it's when we capture that spirit of like an early listen to a song that it really really helps us so I want you to get in the mindset that when you're tracking you're trying to get things as good as possible so that when you're mixing you're not spending ten hours fixing things and trying tio compensate for stuff that you should have done in the track and try toe get decisions made and uh it's done and your performance is as good as possible during the tracking process because this will determine if you're able to mix creatively and just you know, there's nothing like the momentum of when your brain gets to be creative and you're just going around a mix and you're excited and you're doing things that make the mix more exciting compared to getting bogged down trying to fix something and getting frustrated when it's not getting fixed and you can't quite figure out why it's not working so the next part of the process obviously after your double tracking is we want to do it cemented it um I will say this that you know my biggest philosophy is yes you can make in edit in the mix but you really want to get every edit you can possibly hear before the mics done before it's done before you start mixing because if you're listening to add it's, your ears get worn down. We only have so many hours in a day that we can listen to music before years they're worn down. If you're having to tune the vocal it's not gonna work out the other big reason for this is that unedited material sounds sloppy and we make bad decisions. You might pull down a kick drum that's a little sloppy because you don't want to hear that instinctively as much, but if you edited it properly, you're going like, oh, cool, this kick drum could be nice and loud, and that could be what drives the song bad editing in the mix doesn't make for doesn't make for good decisions in the mix. I also have to say that we should apply this to what you should be doing during these edits. You want to clean all your drums in the levees events, drum production class, he showed tons and tons of great content on how we prepped those drums. You know whether it's aligning triggers properly so they're all in phase on down to cleaning up tom trucks now, you know, cleaning out tom trucks isn't for everybody sound if you're doing really precise metal that's one thing, some john rose it's better to gate some jonrowe, it's better to ride the feeders down? I do depending on the source material and what type of thing I'm going for a mix, I might do any combination of the three you want to make sure all your vocal takes or comped edited and you want to print down your auto tune, I'm going to show you a little later how real efficient way I print down the auto tune and I haven't saved in case that there's any changes for the mix later, but most of all, you know your computer is going to run a lot slower if you have eight instances of auto tune on eight vocal tracks and you want that power to make your mix on good not for your editing the sound good, so print your auto, tune down, you can always go back and tweak it later and then you also want to check and fix any phase issues you know don't wait for the mix that you're there going, you know, was my basis in line take a listen to your base sliding around in curb lose class. He showed a really, really great way of listening to these phases issues between two different mikes and how you align it. You know, I even learned from that, but I had a little bit of a different technique to do it, and I now have been stealing his for about a week um as well as all this if you're doing adm, you want to print your soft since down there's a great mentality and if you read the interviews with a lot of the top guys in medium, they always talk about you know they're not still running their soft since in the mix there, recording it down to a new audio track, whether it's a stereo, monaural audio truck and then they're just concentrating on how that's since fits in a mix, not how whether they need to change a patch or not to make the mix work. You know, there's, obviously we a premix ing process that happens in a lot of and you should have good, rough mixes while you track and you didn't determine things like that. I know you know we're all using soft drums, amp simulators and soft since these days, and this applies to all that stuff that you don't you want to print that down when you get in the mix been tell you so that you're committed the idea that you're going to make this tone go in the shape of your mix and you can always go back, but I think it's preferable to get this as good as possible and that you're feeling confident about moving forward and going into a mix head space instead of a choosing a different tone type of head space so I like to call that process the editing process, but then there's also prepping a mix, so one of the biggest things is, you know, you'll see in most of these files and I'll go into like, the little details of some stuff that you wanna have consolidated full files, you know, having five thousand and it makes your hard driver and slower, and you know, this isn't as big a deal if you're running one of those fancy new ssd hard drives, you know, they run amazingly fast, but if you're like most of us and you're not on a fancy new ssd hard drive, your mix is going to run worse, you're going to get errors and its could stifle your creativity. You're going to yell at your computer when instead you should be smiling. You want to keep going with your good vibes and happy creative space and not have the fact that you didn't cross fade sixty bass drum hits in a row, get you down and slow down your process. I'm a very big believer that you, while you will see in my mixes that there's points where it doesn't look like it's a consolidate one file it's because I copied it down and you can go in, and if you hear an edit, you should obviously macon edit and if you want a pulse of the god to another track pulls something down and do another truck as you get a mixed on, you are going to probably hear some things you didn't hear before you're gonna want to mend this that's not against the law, but you want to get it as good as possible. So the last stage of this is getting into the fun part mixing, like I said, I think that, you know, you really see every one of these guys if you watch an interview with him, they talk about how important is this creative head space? You really want to get inspired? A lot of times before I even mix and I'm doing the prepping I'm doing some silent work, like just lining up a trigger I'm trying to get inspired, I'll put on a play list of some mixes that have been really, like getting me excited for this genre of musically we all put on even some obscure stuff and, you know, what's great is today we have programs like itunes radio, spotify rto beats music where you can get a playlist generated off of some of the stuff that ari inspires, you here's something new and maybe get a new inspiration of something else you haven't done, you have to ingest creative stuff to get creative, try to keep yourself always inspired you know when you're putting your tracks and order, you know, one of my big things with prepping and that will go over in a second is that like I need my tracks of particular order because I don't want to be looking for a track while I'm doing this I try to find something new that maybe I saw somebody tweet or write about in the forum that they said this mix is really exciting I'll try to see if I can get some new inspiration there if you're feeding your mind with the stuff you're going to get inspired and you're going to be more excited about a mix, the other thing I will say with mixing is you really want to mix with mastering in mind yesterday I talked a lot about dialing tones with the master fader already on this is a crucial, crucial part of getting good tones is that if you're going to just change everything in the end, you're not going to get a good result as if you have a little bit of mastering that you know you're probably going to do in the future anyway so one of the other things that we haven't really got into is you know, so what really can make a goes into a good mix? You know, it's great to know all these techniques but you do also have to, you know, inspire your tastes your taste, your standards and your imagination as well as your tools you can know every concept an audio but you really really neto also have high standards and so what I mean by standards is this is it's kind of this way with anything in life whether it's, you know ah mix or going to look at an apartment there's a certain level that you will accept things out when I hear a bass drum and I say okay, that's good enough for me to mix that's a certain standard some people have a higher standard for that in iraq I'm not going to even go to the next level told this kick drum sounds this good or this bad and the one thing is you have to develop this over time you have to hear what a raw kick drum sounds like when what you think sounds good with it, you have to hear lots of other people's mixes and compare. And so that is a lot of standards and that's also a lot of taste is that, you know, I have some friends who are really, really competent mix mixers, but some people don't really enjoy their taste so they don't get hired as much like if you like things that other people don't like, that is another thing as well, you know you have to develop your taste to be you know something unique and that you really like but it also needs to be well researched and by researched I mean you're listening to music your pushing your boundaries and what you hear and things sound good you know, I always joke that I was out of deficit has finn and I both grew up listening to nineties hard core, which if you're familiar with this stuff is some of the worst recorded music in the history of mankind and some of the sloppiest performances where is somebody who grew up with sickness? Steely dan might have developed a little bit mohr higher standards for audio fidelity than hissy crais dams and all sorts of awful things that we grew up listening to. So I had to develop my taste and my standards a little higher for the years because I was at a bit of deficit from listen to terrible sounding punk and hardcore records on my life. So what I'm saying though with this is there comes a time that like you have to say, is this guitar good enough for me to pursue this mix that is this guitar toe good enough that I'm gonna send this off to somebody? One of the interesting things I see david sato talk about is how often he sees in hip hop and r and b how terrible the guitar tones these guys think are acceptable to print in the mix that they sound like somebody's kid played with guitar ring for an hour and randomly set the knobs to something that they still put that at the mix I think there is a thing of that you need to research and listen to other job was like I don't do a ton of hip hop but when I do you have to do hip hop elements I'm listening to all the records that somebody's telling me sound good and you know current at the time so I can get inspired and know what my standard should be for something sounding good I had to do a project recently and you know I had never heard kendrick lamar everybody was saying that that was similar to what it was I listen that record for an hour and if I hadn't listened for that record and fed my imagination and up my standards this record wouldn't have sounded good you need to d'oh some research and plotting if you want to do great work you'll see all these guys when they get interviewed talking about how they're feeding and listening to things and getting their standards up to par this is one of the practices of what you do to become a great mixing engineer so as we're talking about this taste yes this does take time to develop just like you're mixing skills this is kind of your extracurricular activity and it's a pretty easy one to do obviously when you're in the car, you're out at the gym, you're taking a walk like me listen to do things explore, you know spotify rto it beats music or so good because you could hit the popular page, listen around, find what you like find what you don't like go on the internet, you can get a million recommendations you khun type in a similar act, hit the radio button and hear other things and get inspired it's easier than ever to develop your taste, but you really want to touch the records, and the other thing I'll say is so yesterday we talked a lot about your relationship with your speakers you also want to hear these things on your speakers and continue to develop that relationship. You know what are what do you hear in the commonality of what you like and how do you get that to sound that way on your speakers? This is so much of how you're going to be able to know if you have a good kick trump sound, they're not like it's between that and a being your mix is all the time up against this stuff I keep playlists on my itunes and my rto of all the stuff I think sounds good, I have playlists that are literally a thousand songs deep sometimes of just good mixes that I've grown to appreciate over the years you need to keep up with this because the other thing is is five years from now, as I've learned with these itunes playlists, is that you're going to go back and you're gonna go well, I haven't done a record like this in a while. What was I listening to when I was really inspired at this point? And you go back and you have some of these storms from five years ago, and you go oh, wow, that's great was that delay sound and you get inspired, you get that taste and you get that inspiration that helps make these mixes better. You know, every writer and, like book writer always talks about how you have toe get inspiration and read other books that you perspiration and you get that out of you of what you took in it's the same thing for mixing is that, you know, a lot of this may sound like, you know, really heady stuff, but you see every single one of the guys who does this and does it in the big time, talking about the same stuff. So let's, talk about developing your standards develop your standards is, you know, also a lot of hard work it's not settling in just after two minutes going okay, bye kick trump is great. Now I also talked about another thing is that if you've been dialing your kick trump for forty five minutes you're probably doing something wrong if you haven't got it there and you should think of other things but there is also a thing of that you know, one of the best habits I got into when I was younger and I even just started doing again this year is that I take fifteen minutes every day when I'm working and I have to experiment and do something and do before whether it's opening up a new plug in that I haven't messed with whether it's just going hey, I have never tried flynn jing a reverb and then realizing that's a terrible idea after those fifteen minutes I'm still going to play with it and see if I could find it after those fifteen minutes you have to develop some time where you're practicing, experimenting and learning why things work each day and you can't just sit down and go I'm going to do what everybody else is doing these are the recipes I saw other guys doing this is what everybody else is doing you have to take the time tio forge your way through things that other people are doing and fifteen minutes a day if you're working five, six days a week like most of us, maybe you're even working seven days I feel sorry for you that's going to be a lot of improvement really fast and, you know, the nice thing about our profession is when you're doing this, you're just doing with the client wanted anyway, you're just trying to make their song better and you get to build for your experimenting. How awesome is that? So really, really devote your time to do this. And the other thing about this is, you know, when you're developing this staters, you can't accept anything less than what's, good and exciting. Like I know I talked about the same thing, the forty five minutes of dialogue, assad, but sometimes it does take forty five minutes to dial a sound if it is taking you probably going down a bad road if you've been doing the same technique but maybe start over, you're doing all out of the queue, start playing with subtracted que try a different kick drum, try a different guitars toe, try a bunch of plug ins you've never tried before. Go dead, you know there's so many free plug ins on the internet, go download something new and see if it gives you it's a new inspiration and dial around it. And then most of all, listen to other things and see if you're just getting off track from your goals. And now the other thing I'll say about what's that other things is don't just listen to one guitar tone and say, I have to get it exactly the same is that qatar tone? If there's one thing that, as I said, like these fifteen years of experience of making mistakes, is, is I would chase one record sound, find a couple records, so you're getting in the realm of that sound, and you're on par with what's current. If you just chase one sound, you might be doing a sound that's not particularly a cape, impossible to do with just that sound alone? Um, so for example, I used yesterday that I chased jimmy world bleed american a million times down a rabbit hole that never worked out because it just did not sound that way when I started putting up for other records like that, I'd go, oh, my guitars air now similar and sound justus good as that one, because I wasn't trying to make it exactly like that one it's important to just have a standard and develop that standard no and have comparisons to that standard. The other thing is I'll say is that you can do a lot with a little these days. The greatest thing is I think if you were reading the internet five years ago, everybody say you can't get that sound with this piece of year in the box this piece of year, the box, this piece of your mind, it's just not true anymore technology is advancing so fast and things are getting so good that would it was hard to get five, six years ago is getting easier and easier every day. I mean, I just can't believe how much better all the program drums, air sounding, all the proof guitar simulators, air sounding, you know, kemper ax effects even on down toe that pool in damp everything is just sounding fantastic these days and it gets better and veteran better, so don't believe the hype that you have to have all this analog, your or hybrid set up like this guy and that guy has people were doing great work in the box every day. Some of top records are being done every day, you know, you see interviews with guys like david ben death and tony massaro idea, and they're doing mixes on the plane that get heard on the radio now these guys have superior skill sets and tons of experience, but that's, the thing is this is all about the practice that you do you can do it with minimal gear these days and that's where we're at so don't get discouraged that you don't have enough money if you put in the practice, you do the experiment again, you really hone your craft, you can do this stuff, we have anything in there so far or it might just no, I want to say that's everything that you said is awesome, I just it's good life advice just in general applies to everything yeah, and bill comic says that's a good idea to avoid stagnation, and locke says, indeed, so I think I thought it was really smart, like where you're talking about, like, sort of comparing your work, not just tow one record, but a group that are all kind of similar because I've had the same thing, you know, just one particular band, you know, the one I always play for you that I really love their guitar sound, I just don't think I can get that with what I have for whatever reason, who knows? But when I when I put it next to the three or four in that genre that I like it sounds, you know, it may not be exactly the same as the one that I love, but it fits in with that sound and I think that's and I think that's the right way to talk about it I think it's also like an interesting thing because we're getting so micro these days like you know we can get our accused to be so surgical and the other thing is is you want something that is a little bit different because we don't want to be cookie cutter imitations of thing it was like one of the things we're going that I'm going to say that you know as I get into like an imagination think it's like you know so what I'm planning out a mix it's like that thing of like you know I don't want this band like the date day one whether I'm getting a mix or I'm starting a record stretch I don't want this ban to be the exact same thing is that because who needs to hear the same thing twenty times it's good to get it in a realm and say you know we like an element of this and elements of that what's make a hybrid of that but what's make sure it's on par with that and I think that that's yeah you know of course we have to remember that the sound you hear in a record is a product of a million different things you know the mikes the pri's the room yeah this that the other in of course very importantly the players yes oh I love zack wiles of guitar sound I will never get that yes, he says I'm not zach wilde I know he plays les paul of cmgi's into a j c m eight hundred I go by that a guitar center right now will never sound like zach wild because it's not zach wild it's true and you don't drink far enough whisky right? So you know, I just I think you know, we get so you know, talk about imagination you know? We get so fixated on copying one thing rather than doing the best thing for what we're working with and I think that's also a part of the imagination is like, you know, we talk about imagination like but you know you take allison wonderland it's this hybrid of all these crazy things in a new world and that's what we really like it and mix is not just ten things we've heard before it's wow, you were actually were able to put this with that and make it work and I've never heard that before that's have so interesting to be like, you know, I think of the first time I heard nine inch nails there was tons of people applied like this digital with guitar thing before but it sounded terrible in the person of finally made that made that work that's true imagination I think that's what we all should be striving for is how to make the cohesive version of something that's new and interesting and even if it is just, you know, a ramones rip off band which is just that there's a way that you can cue those guitars and bring a new thing to it that could still be really interesting to people love that style of music and I think it's about developing that and like you really got to do a lot of exploration your head and know your tools and how to bring that stuff there and also get inspired by listening to a lot of music and a lot of like what you're into it that time and who's doing the new and interesting things and what can you learn from them for with that? I think we can get into it cool. So one of the things that we like to do here and one of the things I love what I watch other credible live segments is we boil this down so they know that all this seems like so much in our heads could get so like overwhelmed with us is but mixing really is just a small tool kit like you know the most important thing is your level like, you know, any mix between the leveling in panning that's the most important thing that's all you hear when you're in a dumb down system if you're sitting on your mac laptop the most popular way people listen to music today that's really a lot of these lister's air hearing sure, the compression, the reverb and all that stuff adds up to a greater thing and we want to make that stuff good I'm not saying to ignore that but at the end of the day this is the majority of it so the leveling and pat egg and the routing all that super important you have compression and robotics and like I talked about yesterday to me you know compression distorts the signal side group compression righted with distortion saturation clipping whatever we want to call it what are we doing for ha robotics? What are we doing for level control? It's really? That support? How do you want to apply that e q is obviously humongously important and you know we'll make it so we don't just have lush but yet again the's air just a few simple things there's really just eight different things that we have here reverb dawei will help us get our spaces and then there's modulation and special effects ed the reason these modulation special effects are out the idea is because it's the least important part of it it's the last thing we really need to think about because all these other things are so much more important now some of them in different mixes you know you could turn them around in this scale and say, you know that a report that this this is more important, that but really, at the end of the day, when you're thinking about each track, this is all you need to think about is just what do I have to do with these eight concepts to make this sound good? If you boil it down on your head and you need to check list like to me, this is something I would look at and like, you know what I'm like, what else could I do to make this mix out? Great. I'd kind of look at each track and just think this is what I could do with these have exhausted all by options of these eight concepts. It's really, really simple, and if you get done with the mix and you're pretty happy with it and what a second guesser second guessed that and see if you could improve it. These eight things are kind of like the overarching, you know, obviously we could go down a rabbit hole of any one of these, but what can you do to improve a signal with any of these eight digs? Figure it out from there.