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Mixing alone?
Old 2nd September 2002
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar

Mixing alone?

I have found that I do my best mix work when it's by correspondance and I work alone, spending one day per track.

Mixing by correspondance is cool...the tracks are FedExed (usually a CD-R of PT files) along with notes or a brief, I transfer to 2", mix it, and mail/email the masters back. The producer/artist then email their changes, if any...we recall the mix, touch it up, and off it goes.

How many of you prefer to mix alone (no artist or producer around) or by mail and how often does it happen to you?
Old 2nd September 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

i mix like i drink, alone and in the dark.
Old 2nd September 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

I prefer mixing alone .... but often find myself with a know it all sitting next to me .... usually during the first break there is a discussion which goes like .... :

ok ... I will follow your suggestions ... but I think that this will end in you not being happy with it afterwards ... blah blah ... coming back .... blah blah ... costing you more .... or .... let me do it the way I see fit .... and if you want to come back and do some small adjustments ... I'll dop them for free .... works almost every time ....
Old 2nd September 2002
I get all tracks close to being finished, then call the artist(s) in.

I find an 'audience' helps my concentration for the final part of the mix. I would go futher and say it is an absolutly essential part of my work as a producer of rock bands.

The band gets a pen and a blank sheet of paper, they can listen on the mains and on a ghetto blaster, several times over. I encourage them to confir and write down a list of points to be addressed (I do this to try to avoid the "and just one more thing" senarios) one by one I work through the problems on the list.

I am gratefull for the suggestions.

I work through them, one song at a time. Once we are happy we print the mix and move on. (recall sheets have been done already and any adjustments at this 'post band' stage only take a second with a pencil)

Old 2nd September 2002
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar

1st half of the day, I prefer to be alone. I can try things, crazy things, without worrying about what the producer may think. Then, sent in the clowns. I like the ego-boost after a job well done.
Old 2nd September 2002
Lives for gear
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar

I prefer jules approach....

I like to mix until im in tha zone alone.... call in the band or artist (gee i hate that term cos genuineley so few ppl would qualify as artistes! IMHO) and then we go from there and make a few nips and tucks... until its ready to print.

I find its so much easier to concentrate without all the bull**** and shenanigans that others like band members, managers, drug dealers, A & R oh and of course all the groupies and fluffers etc...and ppl hanging on.

I often lock the studio, take phone off tha hook and get my Phil spector guard dogs and sports bag of guns ready for over zealous ppl who wish to intrude b4 its time..hahahah not really but i dont act kindly to early visitors etc.

Besides they allways altely want to know what this plug and that plug do... especially serato and echo farm then they wan ttons of that stuff and i reason with them that it wil end up sounding ****.... but they go nah! its sounding gr8man!........ next day its like... do u rekon u could remix that track with less.. insert favourite plug,compressors what ever they were gettnig a major ****ing hard on for, that i warned them about would screw things up.... hmmm

Also i believe this is Standard practice for 24/7 mixer types like Andy Wallace, CLA & TLA etc.... i can fully understand why!!

Old 2nd September 2002
High End Moderator
mwagener's Avatar
I always try to mix alone and have the band/artist come in at the end of the mixing day to hear the mix with "fresh" ears. Then we all take a CD home and listen on different stereos. I listen first thing in the morning on my refernce system at home, make a list and stick to it combined with the list of the band. I encourage them to make only one list between them.

Too many distractions (questions) when the band is around during the mix. I go into the zone when I start writing automation for a few hours and won't have anybody in the control room for that time, otherwise I forget things. Sometimes the band even leaves after everything is recorded and just sends me a fix-it list after they heard the mixes, which is easy to do with total reset nowadays. In most cases I am producer and engineer on a project, so I get two votes anyway heh
Old 2nd September 2002
Here for the gear
stevepow's Avatar

I find that at some point I must be alone with the tune to really dial in the details. This requires a level of attention and focus that is hard to get with even a second person around. I used to worry more about when that would be, but now I'm pretty used to working with the band at their convenience - that's where we do the more obvious things that might need approval or involve some creative input. I'm a big fan of collaboration and the more ideas the better - not that you have to use them all, but choices are good - sometimes the coolest sounds result from an off the wall suggestion.
Old 2nd September 2002
Same here. Been mixing by correspondence for years. I think its the nature of mixing engineers to be "loners". I think its why we do what we do and i think to other engineers(the tracking guys), we seem arrogant, anti social or aloof. The tracking guys are the social guys, the vibe men, we are the hired guns. I do sometimes want the input from a client(especially if its someone i've never worked with before) or she is gorgeus!!!heh Its all about coping the clients feel for what they want. Working alone sometimes has its drawbacks.I think if we are all alike, it takes a while to get it to go(sometimes i take humongously long breaks) and its those last few hours that you know the client is coming by, that you put the effort and the mix just happens to come together. Or the worst is when u put a great sounding mix together and the client comes by and all they say is "its nice", but they had something else in mind. Or the best one...what happened to the extra room tracks? Why are they not in the mix and u have to go through this whole speech, that sometimes less is better. I love those conversations.
Old 3rd September 2002
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar

Wow, great stuff.

Here's a story:

Last month, I mixed a 'Linkin Park'-ish rock track for a label 1200 miles away to convince them for the rest of the album mix. They liked it and lo! the singer/producer flew over for a few days to oversee mixing the rest. A very nice guy...and rather hands-on. It was slow going, and he went back home with five more tracks mixed. The mixing was put on hold until he was to return, so I accepted a week of rock band tracking (see Rock drum tracking session thread...) in the meantime.

Now, the label listened to the mixes and as it happened, they preferred the first mix done alone over the ones done with the singer here.

So, the label head decided to leave me alone for the final 8 tracks of the album...which I start tomorrow and have to finish by Monday...


P.S. How often do you guys mix a track for a major label on the basis of "let me have a crack at it to convince you, you don't pay unless you want it"? :eek:
Old 3rd September 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

Originally posted by jon
P.S. How often do you guys mix a track for a major label on the basis of "let me have a crack at it to convince you, you don't pay unless you want it"? :eek:
dont have to work for a major to use that line... its my closer for mixing. except i say "ill mix a song for you, if you dont like it... just tell me to **** off and dont pay me for it", never had them mix elsewhere.
Old 3rd September 2002
Gear Guru
Drumsound's Avatar
I do like to mix alone. It doesn't happen often, but it has a few times. I think the reason I like it is that's how I learned. When I first got a studio job I used to take tapes off the shelf (things the boss had done) and pick a song and mix it.

In practice I tend to just start working and often times that band files out as they get bored. If it gets too loud in the control room I kick people out and call them back in when I'm close. I generally have balances, most fader moves, and effects in place. Then I start taking suggestions from the peanut gallery, which bring the mix to the next level.
Old 3rd September 2002
Normally if its a label, they have other dealings with other mixers, so working alone is common. If its a major, I always get half upfront(sometimes all if my manager is doing his job) and the rest when its done. If its an independent label, then the I'll mix it pay me later may come into play, but I then I will normally charge them the full amount no breaks. I will give them a break only if they want me to mix more than one song. Sometimes for independents that have small budgets, I just tell them to let me choose the song or songs or just give me the singles(the important songs), and let someone else finish the job. Its worked for me for years.
Old 3rd September 2002
Lives for gear
subspace's Avatar
This thread popped into my mind yesterday while I was on the phone with a client. He was asking me to start mixing a record for him while he finishes up the overdubs in another studio. I don't normally mix without clients present, but last week I took on a job mixing an album for a band in Toronto and now this job comes in at the same time. So it looks like I'm going to be working alone in my room for a couple of weeks. Hmmm... this is going to take some adjusting to... I really hate billing people for time when they weren't present for the session. I do it for mastering work, but that ends up being more like a flat fee based on my inital estimate. I'm going to have to be careful not to short change myself and actually charge them for what I would have made if I was doing normal session work during that time. I am looking forward to being able to explore more mix ideas than usual, so at the same time I have to be self-regulating. It sure is easier billing for a "it takes as long as it takes" gig...
Old 3rd September 2002
Lives for gear
loudist's Avatar

I prefer to mix alone while I am setting the sonic scene, and I mean no assistant do my own patching, no phone calls, no interruptions.
The reason is to stimulate the right brain, while keeping the left brain at a lower influence. Talking and responding is a left brain stimulation.
This increases intuitive behaviour and the greater possibility for insipration.
I also like to lower the lights to give the ears priority over eyes in the information input to the brain. (think Stevie Wonder).

After the mix is at a satisfying point where it seems interesting from start to finish, no flat spots, (the square one stage) then it is time for input from the producer and artist.

If someone comes in before it is at the 'square one' stage, I hold up a hand written sign that says "It always sounds wrong until it is right... it ain't right yet".

If I am alone for the whole thing, I do vocal up/down mixes as well as guitar up/down drum and bass up/down mixes.
When I get the feedback from the powers that be about changes to the mix (and there always are changes), instead of remixing, I can just edit most of the time.

I also tend to do overdubs the same way with the performers. Minimal talk just a bit of positive short sentance open to interpretation non specific feedback... like "That was cool" or "You have a better one in you" or "Thats a keeper, now lets beat it" and never "What do you think". Don't want the performer analysing while performing.
Old 4th September 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I perfer mixing by myself or at least starting the mix on my own. A typical mix might take 2-5 hours and I always give myself a time limit based on the clients budget. I don't want anyone in the room until I have the mix to a nice static point where it sounds decent most of theway through the song. At that point I'll have the client come in and take a few listens, get their suggestions on a piece of paper and kick 'em out again. Then I'll turn on the automation and do the mutes, rides, add some or more effects etc. Then they'll come back in and listen again, maybe make a few more changes and then print it. I also do a few versions unless it's a demo. Usually 2 or 3, more then that and it starts to get hard to pick them apart. I remember mixing one song where I did 9 alternate mixes and the band's eyes just glazed over after the fourth version. If I didn't nail it in those 2-3 versions I'll remix it at a later date.
Old 4th September 2002
Lives for gear
Fibes's Avatar

Yeah I like to get the big picture happening before the toadies show up with fresh ears. I've found that when they show up late in the game the suggestions have more weight and don't require the typical "I'm not there yet" mantra.
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