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Mixdown Depression
Old 12th July 2017
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Mixdown Depression

So this has happened to me more times then I can count and I would love to hear what other users do to combat it.

I'm a house producer and mixdown my own music at the end stage. I've had external mixers in the past but for the most part I'm really trying to do it myself as it's just as creative as the writing stage for my type of music.

More often then not when I get to mixing, even when I've had weeks away from the projects, I go into a bit of a depressed state where I totally lose perspective on the mix.

One of the hardest things is the kick/bass relationship, I'll reference tracks against my mix but there's no objective meter in my mind of whether I'm hitting the right point of not. I start thinking "how do I know the kick is good" and just go into this spiral of uncertainty where I think whatever I've got must almost certainly be bad.

This has also built up from times where I thought the mix was rock solid after checking it on different speakers, then listening months later to a final master and thinking why did I pick this sample or this sound when playing it out in the club.

I definatley believe in Gearslutz's central tenant which is use your ears, but in this case my mind is playing tricks on me as well. Is there metering for comparision or any other techniques in the box as well as anything mental you guys might recommend to stop me getting in this rut?
Old 12th July 2017
  #2
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cavern's Avatar
 

Maybe get away from the reference tracks for awhile.
when I mix my own songs, I don't use references anymore. I just mix it the way I think it sounds best. I don't care what its "supposed" to sound like anymore.
I go for feel more than peer sound matching.
Might be a worthwhile experiment to try.
Start a track from scratch, no reference, mix it to what you think sounds good to you. Different is good?
Old 12th July 2017
  #3
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teleharmonium's Avatar
 

I find that when I play the stuff for other people, the way I hear it is influenced by them, or maybe it's by my imagined version of what they would probably think, or a temporary reprieve from the loss of perspective that I get if I've been working on something for a while. So I try to arrange situations where I can get that, and use reference tracks, and listen to the stuff less and with longer breaks in between.

The other thing you can do, and this might sound weird, but it's to find ways to care less. I don't mean to not care, or to do less than your best, but rather just to recognize that life is short and you're making music and no one piece or mix is going to probably make that much difference to your future. It's important to learn how to commit to your decisions, and then let go of them and accept them as made in whatever imperfect way they were made. Imperfection isn't a problem, it's reality and it can add to appreciation of things sometimes.

I don't know how you cultivate that other than just by letting go of a little more of that attachment and worry on each project. It adds up even though it may seem really hard to make the first steps.
Old 12th July 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
Used to happen a lot until I really learned not to "play with my food". Most straightforward analogy I can think of. Basically, if you're experimenting then you won't have predictable results and also your ears will likely be tired by the time the mix is finished so it will never sound the way it did when "you had it". The best thing for a professional result is having confidence. Do things and make moves for a reason, not to try something or because it doesn't sound right in general. If you don't know what needs to be done then don't do anything and come back to it. Confidence in your procedures/calibrations, gear and ears are paramount to professional mix results.
Old 13th July 2017
  #5
Here for the gear
 

All great advice, thanks so much guys!

Funnily enough Adesse Versions covered this in his recent XLR8R "artists tips" as well, worth reading:
https://www.xlr8r.com/features/2017/...esse-versions/
Old 11th August 2017
  #6
The way people become great at mixing is by making mistakes and learning from them. You can read every post on this site and watch every youtube tutorial ever made, but working and learning from your mistakes is the most effective path to true progress.

The great mixers are not necessarily any more innately talented than you..... BUT, they are better at mixing than you because they have simply invested FAR, FAR, FAR more hours into this than you.

Time and Experience is king.

It's not the fast-track/shortcut answer people want to hear, but it's the simple truth.
Old 20th August 2017
  #7
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Audio Child's Avatar
 

When i reference material its only for certain instruments that i may favour or sonics that i might want to take ideas from, never to emulate the whole song! Whenever i used a reference whilst mixing in mind it was a total throw off and i didn't know where i personally wanted to take the vision because i was fixated on someone elses! My song is my song theirs is theirs attitude if you get me!
Old 23rd August 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
When this happens, I put the song to bed for another day, week, year....

I think this happens when somewhere along the line, I tried to force something, I was uninspired to start with, I was in the wrong mood - and I made bad choices over bad choices. The only way to get over this is to get a fresh perspective, and regain confidence by writing another song and having it be be rewarding for me.

I also think there are times, that I am just writing with no initial idea, concept, a sandbox... I may have been 'messing around'. So many times, I am just scrolling thru samples looking for something interesting, rather than looking for or creating without a goalpost. Occasionally it can work, but I accept the risk that I may not complete the song that way.

Oddly enough, I can still be surprised at how much more interesting one of those unfinished tunes can be much later, approached from a different mindset or emotional state. In that case, it can be very quick to spot the bad kick/snare dump that channel and that plugin chain, clean up the bass, and revive the song.

I may have 100s of unfinished songs that I did during the 32 bit (or even PPC) days that I will never get back - and the bounced wavs now sound interesting and inspiring to me. I admit that is a bit unfortunate. Make sure to archive everything so that it is somewhat backwards compatible, label every track and channel that you use. Foolproof everything - this makes it even more of a learning experience when you can go bad and see/revise the errors.
Old 4th September 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amplemann View Post
So this has happened to me more times then I can count and I would love to hear what other users do to combat it.

I'm a house producer and mixdown my own music at the end stage. I've had external mixers in the past but for the most part I'm really trying to do it myself as it's just as creative as the writing stage for my type of music.

More often then not when I get to mixing, even when I've had weeks away from the projects, I go into a bit of a depressed state where I totally lose perspective on the mix.

One of the hardest things is the kick/bass relationship, I'll reference tracks against my mix but there's no objective meter in my mind of whether I'm hitting the right point of not. I start thinking "how do I know the kick is good" and just go into this spiral of uncertainty where I think whatever I've got must almost certainly be bad.

This has also built up from times where I thought the mix was rock solid after checking it on different speakers, then listening months later to a final master and thinking why did I pick this sample or this sound when playing it out in the club.

I definatley believe in Gearslutz's central tenant which is use your ears, but in this case my mind is playing tricks on me as well. Is there metering for comparision or any other techniques in the box as well as anything mental you guys might recommend to stop me getting in this rut?
I think there are different sections of our brain.. There is the analytical section, the artful section and the business section..To wear all the hats can be done but usually is not the best approach. I would suggest working with someone you respect when mixing, this way you can bounce ideas and opinions back and forth.. This usually leads to a better final product.. I am not against the DIY scene , but a lot of your favorite records were probably done with a team..
Old 9th September 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelAngelo View Post
I think there are different sections of our brain.. There is the analytical section, the artful section and the business section..To wear all the hats can be done but usually is not the best approach. I would suggest working with someone you respect when mixing, this way you can bounce ideas and opinions back and forth.. This usually leads to a better final product.. I am not against the DIY scene , but a lot of your favorite records were probably done with a team..
I agree. But it is not always an option. And there is, I think, something to be said about fighting it alone. At least personal satisfaction. But it is hard, and you have to be honest.
Old 1st October 2017
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Bramley's Avatar
 

Talk to yourself about the thing that's causing doubt- I mean actually talk to yourself out loud as if there was someone else there.

Also helps if the room has a tight bottom end so you can clearly "see" the bass & kick and not be guessing where they sit in the sound field.
Old 1st October 2017
  #12
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Kimotei's Avatar
Hmm.. Room acoustics improvement maybe?

Helped me a lot, at least for nailing the K&B.
Old 8th November 2017
  #13
Here for the gear
YES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramley View Post
Talk to yourself about the thing that's causing doubt- I mean actually talk to yourself out loud as if there was someone else there.

Also helps if the room has a tight bottom end so you can clearly "see" the bass & kick and not be guessing where they sit in the sound field.
Love this idea. And even if you start talking to one other person in the room and transition this practice into talking to yourself, alone. My brain seems to function much more logically when I am stating steps I am taking out loud. It really improves my problem solving and helps me understand how and why I am making the decisions I am, thus making me more confident about my final product! Psychology is a huge factor in how and what we hear! Play to your advantage!
Old 10th November 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramley View Post
Talk to yourself about the thing that's causing doubt- I mean actually talk to yourself out loud as if there was someone else there.

Also helps if the room has a tight bottom end so you can clearly "see" the bass & kick and not be guessing where they sit in the sound field.
I love how you gave the techhy room treatment tip after telling us to talk to ourselves.

Like a 2 for 1!

BTW I talk to myself all the time, my dad did, and I guess as I get older, I get like him. You have to be careful not to let this habit spill into the workplace!

If your monitors are rear ported, pull one of them away from the wall a half a foot and listen to the sub bass difference in each one.
Old 15th November 2017
  #15
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar
 

Seems like there is a right time for everything. If I`m not "feeling it", it`s not the right time!
Old 17th November 2017
  #16
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lobsterinn's Avatar
I've found the most depressing, or maybe the most ego-deflating part of the process is when I feel like I'm really improving things in my production choices or mix processing, and then my collaborator (band-mate or client) doesn't like the results. It puts me into this spiral of self-doubt and irritation towards whoever isn't "getting it"... I always suck it up and find some common vision through compromise and experimentation, but it never comes easy.

The OP is talking about this more in a self-reflective way, which I've dealt with as well, but for me it has less of a sting to it, because I have learned to just accept that as part of the process. We are creative people, so we are always dealing with moving targets to some degree. There's no perfect mix - there's only what feels right to you in the moment.

References actually really help me gain perspective on this, because as much as I may like a song or a mix, I can always find things I would prefer differently. Art isn't about perfection. It is a process, a conversation.
Old 17th November 2017
  #17
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amplemann View Post
So this has happened to me more times then I can count and I would love to hear what other users do to combat it.

I'm a house producer and mixdown my own music at the end stage. I've had external mixers in the past but for the most part I'm really trying to do it myself as it's just as creative as the writing stage for my type of music.

More often then not when I get to mixing, even when I've had weeks away from the projects, I go into a bit of a depressed state where I totally lose perspective on the mix....
I would propose that these two statements exist in contradiction to each other. You may want to believe that mixing is a necessary "part of your creative process" but if it makes you "depressed" and you "lose perspective" then I would say it's clearly not! Thousands of artists who send their stuff out to be mixed prove it is not 'necessary', and if you are not even enjoying mixing, then what the hell are you doing? I NEVER get depressed at Mixdown time. In fact, it is my favorite part of the process.

You seem to enjoy tracking and composing and they don't make you feel insecure and depressed...

Unlike others here with specific suggestions of mix techniques or methods of "spoofing" your own mental state, I would send you back to square one and challenge your most basic decision as to why you insist on mixing yourself. You did not do it before. Now you have decided to do it. Ask yourself why? Is it only because you think you are "supposed to"? Do you enjoy it? It sure as hell sounds like you don't!


You may still come to the conclusion that you DO want to mix your own stuff, after all; but perhaps a deeper confrontation will clarify your mind and remove some of the mental blocks you seem to be creating for yourself. I would go back to the most basic assumptions and reexamine them. You may come to a different conclusion or the same conclusion, but at least you will have a more solid foundation.

Maybe take your next 2 songs and send one out, and mix the other one yourself. How does each one make you feel?

Quote:
One of the hardest things is the kick/bass relationship,
It's hard for everybody, but a Mix Engineer knows how to deal with it. It takes time to learn how to be a Mix Engineer. This is time you will need to take away from some other activity. Will it be composing? Performing?
Old 8th January 2018
  #18
Gear Head
 
Charlie Hugall's Avatar
 

to the original poster: my advice would be maybe don't solo stuff so much! you'd be surprised as to how much emotion is lost when addressing indivdual elements rather than the whole.
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