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Russell Elevado 1st April 2007 07:01 AM

my mixing...

this has been a fun experience so far, and want to thank you all...!

i wanted to start this thread to talk about some concepts i have about mixing. my only rule is "there are no rules".
it's been tricky to answer a question dealing with "what did you use on that" or "how did you get your bottom?" because for me, exceptions are always present. i don't like to be formulaic when i'm working, so i try to not stick to a pattern when i work. (eg: for bass, i've used an la2a, 1176, 670, f760, gates, and many more.) i like being spontaneous and try different things and so i don't always put the same compressor or eq on the same instrument every time. sure i love neve eq's on drums, but i don't always do that. i try and change things around as a rule.

the formula is no formula:
one should learn to be effecient and develop a work flow that's both productive and creative. it's a tough position to be in the engineer/producer seat because you can't rush creativitly, yet you still have deadlines and budgets. of course if something works for you, use it but don't rely on it every time. challenge yourself and that's how you get better. so i'm constantly trying new things and that's part of the reason i collect esoteric equipment. i've developed a way that works for me where i organize things so i can flow but i don't have standard settings or gear that i only use for this or that. it's more like, maybe i should try the gates on the kick drum this time.

analog talk on my next post in this thread. please feel free to ask questions...


AMIEL 1st April 2007 07:40 AM

Hi Russel! I love your sound!
I totally agree with you and I think to always try new way makes everything more fun.

Do you have any way to refresh your ears? do you take breaks often? do you have a time limit in front of the speakers during mixing??

**I think you loved my signature!heh

Stefbossa 1st April 2007 04:22 PM


Nice to have here!

I have few questions Re producing and I would love to have your point of view on this.

My questiion is about workflow. How do you plan your productions before you actualy start working? How well do you know where you are going to take the artistic direction. Do you have a clear idea of the sound you are looking for. Or do you just experiment and try to get out of boundaries by Breaking the law?


Russell Elevado 3rd April 2007 02:59 PM


Originally Posted by AMIEL (Post 1207462)
Hi Russel! I love your sound!
I totally agree with you and I think to always try new way makes everything more fun.
Do you have any way to refresh your ears? do you take breaks often? do you have a time limit in front of the speakers during mixing??

hello reuven,

thanks a lot man heh
yes i do take breaks quite often. i can tell when my ears or my brain is getting tired. if it's a dense song, and there's lots of frequencies going on, i'll do 20 minutes, then take a 20 minute or more break. on a difficult song, you can be more productive with more breaks. in the earlier part of my career, i would just pound away and i could be working for like 4 or more hours straight (with only a few 5 or 10 min breaks to take a call or something). but these days the most i'll do in one sitting is about 2 hours. but if i'm really vibin, it could be longer. it's definitely good to pace yourself and know that you're not wasting time when you're taking a rest.

also, you can get too focused on the details when you're working for a long stretch. once you take a nice break, you can come back and are more able to look at the overall picture. and sometimes, that thing that you keep tweaking and can't seem to get right (at that moment) will sound just fine or you're able to see how to resolve it after you come back from an hour break. also, just as important, stay conscious of how loud you're monitoring.


syra 4th April 2007 05:30 PM

Hey Russel,

good to know you're taking long breaks during mixing. I know it all depends, but how long would you say your average mix took on the Erykah Badu stuff. Are you usually under a strict deadline or its ready when its ready.


Russell Elevado 5th April 2007 06:26 PM

hello everyone,


Hi Russ, I was wondering what is your approch to using reverbs? Most of your mixes seems to be very dry or with very little reverb on them but still you achieve a very big and large sound with depth. How do you achieve that? Thanx.
yes, i do like things dry and raw for the most part. i use reverbs for coloring and not for the whole sound as it tends to make my mixes sound too slick and unnatural. i like to use reverbs and fx in subtle ways. reverb doesn't have to be loud to be effective.

when i'm getting my sounds and balances together, i usually will not turn on any reverbs until halfway through the mix, if at all. i try and achieve a big sound without resorting to reverb. so i just keep chipping away until the track is pumping. then once i'm happy heh, i start to think about what i might want some room or ambience on. also on drums for example, once my sound is there, reverb will cheapen the sound (to my ears). just because you have it, you don't have to use it. i have all this gear at my disposal, but i dont use it all everytime. i choose as i go along what i might want to use. if it doesn't need it, i won't touch it. typically for a mix, i'll use 2 plates and maybe one side of the 480 or 960 and that's it. this might be due to the fact that i like to create space with subtle delays as well. the times where i do need lots of reverb (eg: the roots), i try and use seperate reverbs on individual instruments. this really gives them their own space.

i definitely favor emt plates and real chambers like if I'm in a studio with a good live room, I'll use the studio as a live chamber. i also like the Lexicon 960L, 480L, 300, Sony DRE-777 and TC Electronics M5000. when i'm using one of the digital verbs, i tweak the parameters until i get a natural sound.


Russell Elevado 9th April 2007 12:40 AM


Originally Posted by syra (Post 1213435)
Hey Russel,
good to know you're taking long breaks during mixing. I know it all depends, but how long would you say your average mix took on the Erykah Badu stuff. Are you usually under a strict deadline or its ready when its ready.


that was quite some time ago so i really couldn't tell you exactly how long each mix was. i know that "green eyes" took about 3 to 4 solid days to mix. all the songs i did were tracked and mixed off tape. i'd say the average for each song was 1.5 days. i am usually on a deadline to finish, but you're absolutely right, when it's done it's done. the artist will let me go as long as i want once they hear what i'm doing. deadlines, i try to keep in my subconscious as they can really mess with my creativity. but there's always one or two songs that might take longer than the others. so i'll try and make up some time with some of the simpler songs (if it's possible) and then other times, i simply have to add more time to the project.

my "loose" goal is to go for a song a day. the more creative the mix, the more time it requires (obviously). i really like the challenge of mixing what i call "epic" songs. you know, the 8 minute song with different sections that have different sonics and effects going on. songs like the roots' "water", D's "playa", Nikka's "so have i for you", blackalicious' "release", and erykah's "green eyes" are some good examples.

all the best

Russell Elevado 9th April 2007 05:45 AM

where to start
hello everyone howdy

there's been quite a bit of questions on how i start or setup a mix.

Can you tell us how do you start your mixes, (drums, Vocals etc) AMIEL
first thing i do is a rough mix of the song and get familiar with it. no eq'ing or anything, just a quick balance of things. i'll listen a few times and get my basic idea's and direction formulated.

my way of mixing changes slightly from project to project. so the things i do now might not be exactly what i did even only a year ago. so these are some of the basic ways i might start.

one of the first things i do at the start is to try and organize the tracks so i can flow. so starting from channel one: it's drums, perc, bass, guitars, keys and vocals. i like to keep tracks that i know will require the most rides as close to me as possible. (eg: lead and background vocals). once that's done, i'll group the tracks to master fader groups. (there's 8 master group faders on the SSL 9K). so typically all drums on a group, perc on another, guitars, keys, etc...

one of the things you might have heard me mention is to try not to eq things in solo mode. it could sound incredible by itself but once everything else is combined with it, it usually will not be as good. i start with getting sounds for the drums and bass together. and as i'm eq'ing/compressing, i'll periodically put in the rest of the tracks to see what it sounds like in the "big picture". it's important to keep that in mind. once i'm happy with the drum/bass sound (which i know i'll be back to tweak) i'll start putting in the rest of the instruments. i won't eq/compress something unless i think it needs it. usually i'll find the "main" instrument first and go in order of importance. and i find myself putting the lead vocal on during the middle of this process because i start thinking, for example, is the rhodes taking up too much space? and what is this song about, what is he/she saying in this song?

next i'll examine the vocals and lead. i'll usually request getting all the background harmonies and doubles all seperated rather than getting a stereo comp track. this gives me more flexibility in the mix. i'll start getting familiar with the harmonies. once i've got the eq/compression fairly happening with them, i'll go back to the drums and bass again and see if they're still okay.

i normally won't start the automation until the vibe is happenning. but i do rely on the automation for the final shaping. i think of mixing like sculpting or painting. trimming here, adding there, stepping back, trimming a little more there. it's very important to step back and try to see the big picture. you can't lose sight of the song. you can't be the star and show off. the things you do have to be unobtrusive to the feel of the song. the 'tricks" you create should draw the listener in but not completely distract them. so things like delays or phasing should be used as coloring and textures or enhancements. an effect is most effective (no pun intended) when it happens only once or twice. and subtleties are big part of my mixing. to be continued...

all the best

e-are 9th April 2007 10:36 AM

wow great adviceheh