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31st March 2010
Old 31st March 2010
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Question Perfectionism in Audio

I am going over my cognitive therapy papers from group while I was in there
and there's one thing I really have to ask all of you. It's not a moan, this
is just the best place to put this.

Are any of you a perfectionist when it comes to mixing and such? Nobody
can be perfect 100% of the time...Period. In fact, nothing can be perfect
100% of the time...because what's perfect to one, may not be perfect
to 10 others...

I am a recovering perfectionist and I'm wondering how you all deal with people who think your mixes "suck" or aren't "perfect" or do you simply
not care? I'm trying to tell myself the only people whose opinions truly
matter in the end are the clients opinions.

That's why I tend to not post stuff in the mix-offs section as I'm also
still working on self-worth issues and how no matter what I do or how
something I mix may sound, doesn't connect to my worth and that I don't have to concern myself with those sorts of comments and things.

Maybe I'll get lucky and some famous mixer dude will chime in here :P.
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#2
31st March 2010
Old 31st March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
I'm trying to tell myself the only people whose opinions truly
matter in the end are the clients opinions.
Exactly
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31st March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Exactly
Thank you for slapping me in the face with my own words. .

Best answer and reassurance I think I could possibly ask for.

Regardless, everything is a learning experience and I guess another part
is that I can't mix an entire song in 8-12 hrs...Well, I guess I could, but
lately I've just been experimenting with compression and things so I've been
re-mixing old songs and whatnot.

Everything takes time in the end, starting out or being advanced.
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1st April 2010
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You have to remember though that you are the professional and that's why your clients are coming to you. You need to chime in when you can, because the client may not know what exactly something is supposed to sound like.

You don't need to be perfect, but if you see that your client is eating the microphone, tell him to relax, it's not hard.. step back.

In the end though, as long as you can help your client understand why you do certain things, or help them try to achieve what they are going for, they won't be disappointed... and you won't be thinking of stuff like this.
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1st April 2010
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I understand what you're saying, I think a lot of it is just also stemming
from my inexperience as well. I sometimes feel that if I mix something it
must be radio-worthy every single time, yet I am trying to tell myself that
I may never have anything I've mixed on the radio, it's a nice goal and if I
get there, cool, if not, that doesn't make me a failure.

So I believe that if I focus only on what me, the client and whoever else
that's important has to say I'll feel much less pressure from myself, if that
makes sense...

I tend to take certain criticisms to heart and that's a bad, bad thing, especially if I'm going to be in this industry.

Let me pose this question then: How do you handle the criticism of your
engineering? Ignore it or take certain things into consideration. (purely
in regards to GS and maybe other engineer friends)
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1st April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Exactly
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
Thank you for slapping me in the face with my own words. .

Best answer and reassurance I think I could possibly ask for.

Regardless, everything is a learning experience and I guess another part
is that I can't mix an entire song in 8-12 hrs...Well, I guess I could, but
lately I've just been experimenting with compression and things so I've been
re-mixing old songs and whatnot.

Everything takes time in the end, starting out or being advanced.

Wait I must have missed something, exactly how did he slap you in the face with that response.
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1st April 2010
Old 1st April 2010
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Here is the key. The mix really doesn't matter!!!!!! It doesn't. As long as a pro gives it a go, its most likely fine. People have gotten a bit nutty with mix personality and color blah blah blah!!! When the industry didn't have the technology to obsess we didn't!!! Drums on the right, vocals on the left. Done!! Hit record!! The people that care aren't even the people that will buy the record. Consumer's do not notice at all. The loudness wars emphasize this point. Nobody even noticed that music sounds like shit now. Nobody. A mix will not make or break a song. As long as you can hear all the different parts without clashes, you are good to go. I am soo tired of people over analyzing mixes.

here is a fun modern example. Metallica - Death Magnetic. With all the boohooing about the sound of the album around here and even in the news, you would think all their fans hated the album. Funny thing is that there is a petition to have the album remixed and its a really big deal especially since around 20,000 people signed it . Ok. Lets do some math. What percentage of metallica fans would 20,000 people be??? Almost nothing and I am willing to bet a good percentage of those signatures are just whiners against the loudness war. My point is that the album was very very well received despite its "horrible mix." All the regular people are actually listening to THE MUSIC. Maybe we should to.

Get over the mix stuff people. Home recording boom is equally to blame. Great you have an mbox, doesn't mean all of a sudden you are a zen master mix critiquer.
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1st April 2010
Old 1st April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
I tend to take certain criticisms to heart and that's a bad, bad thing, especially if I'm going to be in this industry.

Let me pose this question then: How do you handle the criticism of your
engineering? Ignore it or take certain things into consideration. (purely
in regards to GS and maybe other engineer friends)
Are you sure this is the business for you?? Your skin does not seem remotely thick enough. I personally don't care if people don't like what I do or don't do. I am confident in my own skills and realize that in a creative business you aren't going to connect with everybody especially in these times where there are sooo many amateur opinions floating around. These people cannot think independently from a comparison of something else, often confusing parts of the recording process as they go.
#9
1st April 2010
Old 1st April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
I am going over my cognitive therapy papers from group while I was in there
and there's one thing I really have to ask all of you. It's not a moan, this
is just the best place to put this.

Are any of you a perfectionist when it comes to mixing and such? Nobody
can be perfect 100% of the time...Period. In fact, nothing can be perfect
100% of the time...because what's perfect to one, may not be perfect
to 10 others...

I am a recovering perfectionist and I'm wondering how you all deal with people who think your mixes "suck" or aren't "perfect" or do you simply
not care? I'm trying to tell myself the only people whose opinions truly
matter in the end are the clients opinions.

That's why I tend to not post stuff in the mix-offs section as I'm also
still working on self-worth issues and how no matter what I do or how
something I mix may sound, doesn't connect to my worth and that I don't have to concern myself with those sorts of comments and things.

Maybe I'll get lucky and some famous mixer dude will chime in here :P.
I ask them why. If they cannot give some concrete answers why they carry the opinion they do, they're likely shooting from the hip. Those critiques are emotionally driven and typically unreliable.

You also use the phrase "famous mixer dude" like a professor I once knew... Hmm....
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1st April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
Are any of you a perfectionist when it comes to mixing and such?

Nobody can be perfect 100% of the time...Period. In fact,

nothing can be perfect
100% of the time...because what's perfect to one, may not be perfect
to 10 others...

I am a recovering perfectionist and I'm wondering how you all deal with people who think your mixes "suck" or aren't "perfect" or do you simply
not care?

I'm trying to tell myself the only people whose opinions truly
matter in the end are the clients opinions.
perfection depends on the source,
the source quality limits the perfection level.

when a mix is as perfect as it can be, if you do something more, if you move a knob, it starts to degrade.
Ear tirednes is a very important limiting factor for this.

if the ears are tired and the mix is perfect, you will damage the mix, the more you try to fix it.

if you cannot hear perfection, perfection does not matter.
if you cannot recognize the limit of perfection, you are lost.
...

Clients dont know shit, thats why they hire you.
Clients spect you to know what you are doing, and make a perfect job as fast as possible, with the lowest price possible.

all clients think that way, some cant tell the difference, between perfect and ok.
some know the difference but the $$ x hour limits their perfection goals.

some clients are so crazy, (rap hip hop & religious fanatics) they think if a song is 4 minutes, goin to any recording studio, in less than 1 hour they'll have a complete CD, and be famouse & millionaire the next day, and it will sound perfect!.

and if it does not sound perfect, (you dont deliver) or if they dont have talent, its your fault and they will try to kill you, and start to make menacing calls.
some clients live on the moon, dont appreciate, cant understand what it takes to achieve perfection.
...
another example of perfection is HDDs,
Hard drives are magnetic discs, and have a magnetic reading/writing head
just like a turntable but more advanced/smaller....

a few years back, technology reached the limit. = it was as perfect as the law of physics allow them to be.

then.. someone discovered that recording vertical insted of horizontal, would allow to go beyond the limits of horizontal perfection.




perpendicular recording: Information from Answers.com



Seagate 750 GB Barracuda Enters The Big League : 750 And 500 GB Drives By Seagate, Maxtor, Western Digital

Hard Drives Get Vertical Boost
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1st April 2010
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Deadlines!!!
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2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotsoul4u View Post
Are you sure this is the business for you?? Your skin does not seem remotely thick enough. I personally don't care if people don't like what I do or don't do. I am confident in my own skills and realize that in a creative business you aren't going to connect with everybody especially in these times where there are sooo many amateur opinions floating around. These people cannot think independently from a comparison of something else, often confusing parts of the recording process as they go.
I can see how you might think that, however this is what I want to do and
I have some personal issues about certain things and just wanted to get
others opinions and see if perhaps anyone has seen things from my POV at
some point in their career and how they dealt with it.

I really actually liked your response quite a bit. You brought up very valid
points, especially with the metallica tidbit. I appreciate your input because
you are helping me to see things from a different POV and I needed to see
something like that.

I tend to think on a grander scale which is something I am working on not
doing. Focusing on the smaller aspects, mainly Me>client rather than me>world if you get my drift (which I believe you do).

Synonym...if you're referring to Dan...You're right haha.
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2nd April 2010
Old 2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
Synonym...if you're referring to Dan...You're right haha.
Lol big mixer dude comes in with his Radar etc.
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2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
I can see how you might think that, however this is what I want to do and
I have some personal issues about certain things and just wanted to get
others opinions and see if perhaps anyone has seen things from my POV at
some point in their career and how they dealt with it.

I really actually liked your response quite a bit. You brought up very valid
points, especially with the metallica tidbit. I appreciate your input because
you are helping me to see things from a different POV and I needed to see
something like that.

I tend to think on a grander scale which is something I am working on not
doing. Focusing on the smaller aspects, mainly Me>client rather than me>world if you get my drift (which I believe you do).

Synonym...if you're referring to Dan...You're right haha.
dude. gotta back track a little. sorry for being a bit aggressive. It has not been a good day at all for me. dealing with my own personal issues as well
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2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotsoul4u View Post
dude. gotta back track a little. sorry for being a bit aggressive. It has not been a good day at all for me. dealing with my own personal issues as well
No worries ^_^
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2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotsoul4u View Post
dude. gotta back track a little. sorry for being a bit aggressive. It has not been a good day at all for me. dealing with my own personal issues as well
Do what Willy Show does: light a fatty! It's the solution to everything.
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2nd April 2010
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I just make music for other people, and if I like it it's a bonus.
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2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
I just make music for other people, and if I like it it's a bonus.
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2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
Are any of you a perfectionist when it comes to mixing and such? Nobody
can be perfect 100% of the time...Period. In fact, nothing can be perfect
100% of the time...because what's perfect to one, may not be perfect
to 10 others...

I am a recovering perfectionist and I'm wondering how you all deal with people who think your mixes "suck" or aren't "perfect" or do you simply
not care? I'm trying to tell myself the only people whose opinions truly
matter in the end are the clients opinions.

Maybe I'll get lucky and some famous mixer dude will chime in here :P.
Hey Chris, interesting question, I am a mixer and am def a perfectionist! but you can mix in lots of different ways, and a lot of the time the perfection thing can ruin a track, so there is a fine line, the mistakes and little slips can be what gives a mix it's life and helps people relate to the song, make it to clean and smooth and take away all it's rough edges and it can be come boring. If people say your mixes suck try and work out why, is it them? or is there something you can improve, but be confident if you like what you hear and it sounds good when compared to other material, your mix might just be different to how they hear it.

Remember basic mixing of a track so it's frequencies balance out, and the dynamics are kinda under control makes it easier to listen too, plus the little touches in a track can all add up to make a great mix. Your right the artist is the person who truly matters as it's their record, but often you'll find your the bridge between the artist and the record company that want to make it into something exciting to sell, often the artist isn't the best judgment of a song's potential, but that's where the producer comes in (hopefully

Just keep trying you get better the more you do, keep A/B'ing your mix against other tracks to give you guidelines on frequency balance ie not too bright not too much bass etc, remember to clean out all unwanted stuff, like low rumble & noise, this all clogs a mix and makes it hard to fit stuff together, panning something can be as good as turning it up, I could go on & on but it's the old 3D box thing of fitting everything in it's place, with the right amount of EQ & gain, plus fx to give it perspective.

A good song is also easier to mix so it can get easier when you work with great musicians like the post earlier that says the mix doesn't matter, you could say a good song is a good song no matter the balance, but it's also wrong to think like that as a great mix can turn a good song to a great one! or a simple hook of an effect or an edit can turn something boring to a hit. My point being it might just be the material your working on now is quite hard to do, I've worked on enough turd's over the years to learn that one

Keep going, besides with all the gear today it's never been easier to make incredible sounding records.
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2nd April 2010
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I am not a mixing engineer but I find I need to just take a few minutes to refocus when I run into issues about trying to do too much or take too much time doing something. Even today, someone I know well wanted something from me outside of my normal music and I just didn't want to send him something, even though I know he knows and likes my music in general, I just didn't want to disappoint. I took a few minutes and got moving.

I am very critical of mixing personally. I have been on a few projects where the artist didn't get what they paid for with there mix. Only on one occation did an artist actually take issue, everyone else just wanted to move forward and release. It's weird for me but many people just want things done. I know plenty of personal friends I don't work with that have been totally happy paying major money for something I feel they could have had a decent home studio get the same quality. This goes for both recording and mixing. Anywhere from what I expect on a demo recorded on a budget to sounding like it was recorded live a show with no fans. It suprises me but most people arn't as critical as you would think.


They go to people like you because they can't do it themselves. If they contact you, they have heard you, heard of you, or have some reason to put their money and faith into you. Even though you are dealing with someone else's creation, you are applying your art to it so what you do is what you do. You want happy clients but you can't think about their perception of things while you do YOUR work. Do your work well and they will be happy.
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2nd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talontsiawd View Post
I am not a mixing engineer but I find I need to just take a few minutes to refocus when I run into issues about trying to do too much or take too much time doing something. Even today, someone I know well wanted something from me outside of my normal music and I just didn't want to send him something, even though I know he knows and likes my music in general, I just didn't want to disappoint. I took a few minutes and got moving.

I am very critical of mixing personally. I have been on a few projects where the artist didn't get what they paid for with there mix. Only on one occation did an artist actually take issue, everyone else just wanted to move forward and release. It's weird for me but many people just want things done. I know plenty of personal friends I don't work with that have been totally happy paying major money for something I feel they could have had a decent home studio get the same quality. This goes for both recording and mixing. Anywhere from what I expect on a demo recorded on a budget to sounding like it was recorded live a show with no fans. It suprises me but most people arn't as critical as you would think.
It does not surprise me.

But when you answer to more than one person and are specifically asked to put out a competitive product, I bet there's more scrutiny. This is part of why the mix matters. A lot of people say it "serves the music better" but you should always be serving the music better. And when the time comes, your mix should be able to handle a greater amount of scrutiny.
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2nd April 2010
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The pursuit of perfection in music is the pursuit of blandness mostly. It's the enemy of expression in the vast majority of cases, IMO.

Anyway, it's difficult to listen to your own work as someone else would, i.e. not knowing what you think are the mistakes and therefore not interpreting them as mistakes, but just the song as it is. It seems to help help me to leave it alone for a few days, then come back for a quick sitdown, gestalten type of listen, listening to the whole, not the parts.
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3rd April 2010
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My personal definition of "perfection" is not "overly cautious" nor "every trace of the human element rubbed out."

It's more like "the best it can be" or "the most grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-rattle-your-eyeballs-around-in-their sockets it can be."

Exalted. Exciting. Thrilling. That's where I'm at.
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#24
3rd April 2010
Old 3rd April 2010
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To paraphrase something somebody's already posted above, if you can't realise perfection at the level at which you're currently capable of, you don't improve.
Perfection is just another way of saying the best I can do right now. That's not to say it doesn't get a little pedantic sometimes
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#25
3rd April 2010
Old 3rd April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubai View Post
when a mix is as perfect as it can be, if you do something more, if you move a knob, it starts to degrade.
Totally agree with this.

I have this ongoing battle with myself and perfectionism and the biggest problem is that I want to compose, mix and master and I try and do all 3 simultaneously, it only became obvious how bad this was for the end result when mastering a friends mixed unmastered production.

Now I try to put different days for sound selection and composition, different day for the mix and different day for mastering if I have to work on my own stuff from start to finish. It has made such a difference. I still find myself trying to do mix day changes at the composition stage, and adding mastering before the mix is truly finished and have to police myself! (slightly schizo I know!)

I think impatience and perfectionism can really be a deadly combination!!
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