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How do you deal with terrible sounding sources?
Old 20th September 2005
Gear Maniac
Tom VDH's Avatar

How do you deal with terrible sounding sources?

First of all, thanks a lot for your time on this forum Michael, it's been a great time reading your posts!

As a mixer, you're often expected to make things happen whatever the given sources, but how do you, or would you deal with terrible sounding sources? (ie, distortion, bad pumping, etc...)

Have you already been in a position where no matter how hard you tried, the song wouldn't happen?

Considering the level of your clients it may not happen, but it sure does to me with some independant artists making their album at home with no training in recording whatsoever, coming with poorly-recorded-oversaturated-sessions (not even talking about arrangements) asking "can you make it sound like X?"...

Thanks in advance!

Tom Van Den Heuvel
Old 21st September 2005
Past Guest Moderator
Michael Brauer's Avatar

It's just part of life and I deal with it. I've come up with tricks over the years to deal with bad sounds but every situation is different so the best trick of all is slight of hand. Distract the listener from hearing a bad sound by offering a good sound. Bass hits a distorted note that is apparent, lower it a bit, bring up a high hat or gtr lick and guide the listener's ear to that sound instead. Singer breaks up for a note, guide the listener to another place for a moment. Sight of hand. That's all you need. If it's in all the time, adjust accordingly so that the ear doesn't go to what is bad but what is good. Same goes with mixing a song that has no feel. Something in that song is being played well, find it and make it loud. I've had a song where the only good thing about it was the high hat. Everything else just sucked. So I had that HH jammin loud, everybody loved it.
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