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Space in your mixes
Old 3rd June 2004
Gear Maniac

Space in your mixes

Hi Mike,

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions - most appreciated

In your '99 mix interview you said:

What do you think is your biggest strength as an engineer?

I guess I'd say it's being able to get what the client wants and to give them more than they expect. And I know how to make space for things; I know that much for sure!
I was wondering if you could elaborate on your methods/techniques/tips'n'tricks on achieving that sense of space (every instrument has its place and can be heard) in a dense mix.

Old 5th June 2004
Gear Maniac

Maybe I should elaborate

For those dense mixes are you going for a more British approach you have mentioned at times (eg radical EQ - who cares what you do as long as it sounds good), or is it more of an American style of doing things where you are following tried and tested techniques (in the example of EQ again just filtering highs/lows to make room for other instrumentation without getting too radical.)

Are there any basic "rules" with EQ that you would follow which helps in creating that sense of space?

Reverb/Delay? Compression? Just good 'ole general fader balancing?

I realize these are pretty broad questions but any information would be appreciated


Old 5th June 2004
Mike Shipley's Avatar

I came up thru the English way of engineering which I think is , or rather was , a very different aproach than a lot of American recordings , and whatever eq style I use probably is more English in that being agressive with eq is fine etc. and even when tracking the American way was to be very pure with the signal path and not eq to tape etc.
and it was kinda odd to me . We always just went for it whether tracking or mixing. Of course we knew how to get natural sounds because we were pretty much "mentored" by the staff engineers at the studio in all techniques.
As for rules for eq'ing , not for me, everyone of us here has a different way they would hear the same sound and eq it( or not) so my rules aren't anyone else's. I'm sure some engineers here eq the same way, boosting on a very narrow bandwidth and sweeping the frequency until you hit that hideous "masking " frequency and pulling out the offending frequency to make the sound sit better etc.
I was talking to Nigel Godrich about sound and his method of making records is different than most these days, his is more like a 70's English aproach in a way in that he likes to get the sounds recorded and eq'd so that everything is committed to tape. Drums on 4 trcks max etc, and he often mixes a song as soon as he has finished tracking it and not leave all his mixing til the end. It's a refreshing way to work and he is just fantastic I think. No 100 channel mixes for him !! Experimenting with eq and depth of field is the way to go TLS have fun !!
Old 7th June 2004
Gear Maniac

Great! Thanks for the info
Old 7th June 2004
Motown legend
Bob Olhsson's Avatar

In the early days of 8 track we had to go back and forth between new 8-track songs and older unfinished 3-track songs. The philosophy of leaving eq. decisions for the mix was a lot of the appeal of 8 and 16 track but we quickly learned that people performed better and made better decisions based on hearing something pretty close to the final product. Hence the "'70s English" AND American approach. We used plenty of eq. although we also knew our monitors were terrible so we avoided doing anything stupid just because it sounded good.

Most of the folks I know from that era just roll their eyes at the suggestion of spending more than a half-hour mixing a pop song.
Old 7th June 2004
Lives for gear
Midlandmorgan's Avatar

Most of the folks I know from that era just roll their eyes at the suggestion of spending more than a half-hour mixing a pop song.
That should be a tag line....
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