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Mixing/Mastering: how did you learn
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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Mixing/Mastering: how did you learn

I mean getting a decent base level of expertise down; obviously we are all, even seasoned pros, always learning, obviously.


Trial and error?

Bought a book or 3 and read up?

Researched on the net?

Took a course?

Someone showed you?

A mix of these?

Just wondering.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
I mean getting a decent base level of expertise down; obviously we are all, even seasoned pros, always learning, obviously.
Trial and error?
Bought a book or 3 and read up?
Researched on the net?
Took a course?
Someone showed you?
A mix of these?
Just wondering.
There weren't books devoted to the subject when I started, but there still was an apprenticeship culture. I did 4 years of college in audio and then spent time with someone in the field, all the while studying any related information that I could find, and practicing. After that, it's all about gaining experience, continuing to learn and to study, and networking and discussion with other professional practitioners. Even more than in other audio disciplines, there is no shortcut around spending the time and gaining experience.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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I went to the Art Institute of Houston for audio engineering back in the 90's, did a lot of apprentice work at various studios with various engineers. 20+ years of experience and a lot of trial and error. Read every book I could get my hands on and every website I came across as well. Made a lot of veteran friends in the industry and picked their brains for tips, tricks, and techniques. Plus I guess it was one of those things that I've always had an ear for. I also produce, and I'm a recording artist.

I think my craft has developed quite well.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Experimentation and going by ears.
Mixing somewhat flat since that automatically translates.
Trying out many custom configs in combinators and see what did & didn't work too well.
Researching and not producing for a bit to focus on just one thing at a time.
Laying out tracks so they do not phase.
Raising volume of the track at the very end when the mix is decent etc
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Got some speakers and plugins and a room and announced I as a mastering engineer!

Can be done that way, but there is a reason I have two interns who I quite tightly insist they sit in on particularly complex work I'm doing..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
I went to the Berklee College of Music, and it definitely gave me a great foundation, but it is the kind of thing that requires thousands of hours of trial and error on your own. I now teach the music mixing course at San Francisco State University, and the biggest thing that I push on my students is to bring in mixes that they have done for critique. Even after they graduate, I encourage them to send me their mixes for critique, as that is the best way to learn once you have the basics.

I still have some top mix engineer buddies from when I worked at Avatar in NYC that I will send my mixes to on occasion, usually when I have lost prospective on a project from having been involved for quite some time, playing many hats.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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Lots of assisting at local studios. Keeping my mouth shut but my eyes and ears open!
I did the whole degree thing etc... you come out with technical knowledge but still large gaps in your knowledge though.
So its was back to working for nothing at studios, then I got my first paid job and it snowballed from there.

I still keep the mind set that I know nothing - it keeps me on my toes and keeps me wanting to know more and more.

Also - mistakes, you always learn the best way to do something, after doing it the wrong way first!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
There weren't books devoted to the subject when I started, but there still was an apprenticeship culture. I did 4 years of college in audio and then spent time with someone in the field, all the while studying any related information that I could find, and practicing. After that, it's all about gaining experience, continuing to learn and to study, and networking and discussion with other professional practitioners. Even more than in other audio disciplines, there is no shortcut around spending the time and gaining experience.
yes! experience and lots of it!

eventhough the 10,000 hour rule has been downsized:

https://www.inc.com/nick-skillicorn/...ginal-stu.html

there's no substitute for years (and years) of experience.

so you have to decide if you really want to do this (or anything else) or not.

mistakes are a good thing, as they teach you something important.

best, jt
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Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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The day you feel like you've learned enough, is the day you chose to rest.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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I look at my engineering with the same mindset I look at my Kung Fu; always a student, forever learning and improving.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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I learned by doing it. Slow life long process.

Being in bands as a drummer, getting a good drum tack and availability of a good vocal mic were typically the limiting factors from the technical standpoint.

One thing that really stepped up my game was the golden ears CD training. Before that I had to hunt for EQ ranges to adjust and could not Identify THD. After that, I could hear what frequency to adjust without hunting.

It was not until recently when I obtained good converters that I was like AH-HA, there it is. Removing USB from the picture was the largest step up besides having a few good vocal mics.

In the middle of my process, I discovered something for myself I don't hear others talk about much. Mix and Match..... everything.
Using a wide selection of converters, preamps, and mic's blend better than all tracks using the same preamp and converters. Every piece of gear has a sonic signature. Some good Some bad, but that's not the point. The point it, when every track has a different sonic signature, things blend better. If you want a specific track to sound good, you have to have one that sounds bad next to it to make it sound good.

Phase problems and THD (Total harmonic distortion) are things you develop an ear for over time. Until recently, the only way to fix phase was mic position. Learning to place mic's is a very complex art that takes time to master. Other than vocal mic's I always have the source going and headphones on when locating the mic.

The most difficult thing with recording bands is that most don't know how to make themselves sound good together in a room. Each person wants a specific sound, but they don't consider how they sound with the rest of the band and adjust the right way. They expect the engineer to do that.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
I learned by doing it. Slow life long process.


The most difficult thing with recording bands is that most don't know how to make themselves sound good together in a room. Each person wants a specific sound, but they don't consider how they sound with the rest of the band and adjust the right way. They expect the engineer to do that.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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actually Mixing... and Mastering... are two very different things!

only in very recent years have the two become confused.

although I could mix, I don't, as I'm a Mastering engineer.

I refer Mixing jobs to one of our friends that specialize in Mixing.

Recording... Mixing... Mastering... different phases of the record making process.

Mastering while Mixing has always seemed like a big mistake to me.

best, JT

Last edited by Jerry Tubb; 1 week ago at 02:21 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
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Experience comes from practising. For being a mixing guy its very much reccomend to have some deeper experiences in tracking practise. For being a mastering guy its recommend tohave some deeper mixing experiences. So all might come very naturally, even with those crafts arent really comparable. Specialisation is always helpful to get some deeper understanding.

I started with trying myself in producing house music in the late 80th, followd by producing all kinds of electronic music for a decade, then started recording rock/pop bands, then switched to classical music recordings, came back to mixing pop/rock and then get more and more offers for mastering jobs. Now its exclusivly mastering (and vinyl cutting) here.

Starting as a tea boy or cable guy in a studio is still a good idea, I think. Trying to get real deep knowledge with just reading books, spotting forums and facebbok groups and watching youtube tutorials while producing you own music in your bedroom (exactly what hundrets of thousands of audio enthusiasts out there try to do everyday) will not really lead to a deeper understanding of things, I fear. Get out and work with other people you can really learn from. Record everything you are able to, mix everything you can, even music you do not like. Get out of your personal comfort zone. Its the only way.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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I think a big thing missing today is a lack of exposure to great recordings of the past. Spend an hour a day listening to jazz, classical and rock from the 50s, 60s and 70s on the best system you can find. Sit in the sweet spot, turn off you phone and dive in. The first thing you do in culinary school is eat. It expands your pallet and builds an understanding of what is possible. Do the same with audio. Build that foundation and the rest will follow.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Trial and error?

Bought a book or 3 and read up?

Researched on the net?

Took a course?

Someone showed you?

A mix of these?

Just wondering.
Wondering what exactly? What do you want to do here, for yourself?


Clarifying in yourself and defining the question is the better part of finding the answer.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
I think a big thing missing today is a lack of exposure to great recordings of the past. Spend an hour a day listening to jazz, classical and rock from the 50s, 60s and 70s on the best system you can find. Sit in the sweet spot, turn off you phone and dive in. The first thing you do in culinary school is eat. It expands your pallet and builds an understanding of what is possible. Do the same with audio. Build that foundation and the rest will follow.
nicely said Greg!

i would say to buy a good turntable and listen to vintage vinyl,

then get a real CD Player, and the explore early CD releases,

and contrast the two, compare the dynamic range.

best, JT

Last edited by Jerry Tubb; 1 week ago at 12:19 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Still learning through trial and error but honestly hate the process. Sadly to pay a professional is far too expensive so I continue to do it myself. My considerable handicap is that I master with headphones; I can't use speakers due to my apartment.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
Wondering what exactly?
? Did you not read the thread title/OP? It's right there.

Quote:
What do you want to do here, for yourself?
Read how people learned to mix and master.

Quote:
Clarifying in yourself and defining the question is the better part of finding the answer.
I don't know how to make it any plainer or clearer for you. No big.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alternating.bit View Post
Still learning through trial and error but honestly hate the process.
Me too If I could just wave a magic wand and viola, tracks were mixed, I'd be all over it. Some love it, which is good for them...that goes a LONG way to getting there IMO.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Oh I don't mind the mixing part -- to me that's an instrument and still part of the creative process. Mastering involves an entire different type of finessing and work, including playing the material on all sorts of different sources, etc.... bleh.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
? Did you not read the thread title/OP? It's right there.

Read how people learned to mix and master.

I don't know how to make it any plainer or clearer for you. No big.
Your questions are not as good as they could be

Try harder and you'll get a great answer

Lost opportunity for you ...
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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and yet plenty of other people managed to simply answer the question.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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No worries; every village has one.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
No worries; every village has one.
In this case ... you're it.

Your question has been asked here dozens of times, so had you done some work in a search you would have found the generic answers.

In an attempt to truly help you, a total stranger ... I asked you to be more specific ... what do you want for yourself? Specifically.

I even explained the reason for my question ... that you might choose to dig deeper about your aims BEHIND the generic questions, that anyone serious could find in a search, so that I could give you, a total stranger, a deeper answer that truly served your aims.


As a more or less self taught engineer from a town with no music biz whose income is up 450% in 10 years and who has mastered 8 Grammy and Aria winners, many international huge sellers and has clients in every style, 7 days a week ... I'm always happy to help others who are sincere and hard working to get ahead.

You, however, are acting like a punk at best. So I wish you the best, and will block you now.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
I mean getting a decent base level of expertise down; obviously we are all, even seasoned pros, always learning, obviously.


Trial and error?

Bought a book or 3 and read up?

Researched on the net?

Took a course?

Someone showed you?

A mix of these?

Just wondering.
I started doing Live concert, and so for more than 10 years, wich actually was of great help to learn how to do proper Mastering. Imho, in Mastering, as it is in live/PA system sonorisation, you need to know how to manipulate "Power" ie Watts and not only DB's. The way speakers will react to the amount of low end you feed them, how differents transducers can change your sound perspective whereas you listen to the same thing through them etc etc..
All this is a part of what Mastering need to take care of aswell. And this while respecting the integrity of the mix, and also of the music itself obviously. So taking into consideration both the mixing engineer and the main actors : the musicians, You get my point...
So working with tons of different bands, in live concert, wich makes you listen (and control) so many various music style, but also see with your own eyes how the band is playing their song etc, is really something that contributed a lot to what I am doing in Mastering nowadays.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
I think a big thing missing today is a lack of exposure to great recordings of the past. Spend an hour a day listening to jazz, classical and rock from the 50s, 60s and 70s on the best system you can find. Sit in the sweet spot, turn off you phone and dive in.
Even better, go to live concerts and hear how it is supposed to sound and balanced. Recordings are mostly a pretty poor representation of what they are trying to be.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
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Making a record has very little to do with doing a live gig for me. Completly different representation of music and as abstract as any. Just a matter of expectations. I never would expect a record sound like a concert and I would never expect a concert to sound like a record. Theres no "original" here. Even in a classical concert the room and your position in this room can have huge influence to the perception of the music. Whats the "original" here?
When working in music production its of course very helpful to know music presentation from all different angles of view. But to raise one form over another sounds pretty off to me. I can enjoy a record as much as a gig and I can hate a gig as much as a record.
Regarding the topic: I think its very important to have deeper experience with any type of musical presentation, be it with playing an instrument, listening to an instrument, recording an instrument, mixing an instrument or mastering.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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There are things we can learn anywhere, and so no disrespect to anyone making clients happy. Yet it has to be said that FOH mixing is the low end of the totem pole on the engineering scale. Also has nothing to do with learning how to deal with 0dbfs/limit intelligently ... and has nothing to do with the discipline of respecting mixes vs. changing mixes ... and has nothing to do with the chain of studio production.

Listening to real instruments, real tube amps and speakers in person, real pianos in a room, real voices, etc ... that's important to understand what natural sounds really are, so we can choose to make things more or less natural. Maybe 10+ years of that is a good start. Another 10+ years of studio experience in some capacity, tracking, mixing, producing helps, to have the courage to go beyond generic tweaking yet know when to stop.

These kind of opinions and threads are all over this board. If only the OP asked a more specific question we could have a better, newer, conversation ... oh well.

Last edited by lucey; 1 week ago at 01:43 AM..
Old 1 week ago
  #30
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The hardest part was learning to let go of my preconceived notions about what was supposed to be done. That was programmed in by years of advertising propaganda and fanboys with heavy reputations regurgitating it but not knowing what it meant or even doing it themselves. Once I learned to trust my ears and my ears learned to trust good talent and a good performance then trial and error against years of reference knowledge and physics problem solving education refined and melted away the relevant from irrelevant or less important areas of focus.
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