Is it all based on the same mix template and when is too late to try something new?
...this is my first question to Dave but please feel free guys to make this thread your own...
1. Is it all based on the same mix template?
For example you said in this forum that you don't use mix buss compression. Is this almost true for all of your mixes? What are some standard things (like layering samples, multing, parallel compression, and so on) that you do (or start a mix with) the majority of the time if not 100%?
and 2. when is it too late to try something new?
when do you stop fighting with something and decide to try a completely different approach...for example I find myself sometimes spending a lot of time working with a multed kick sound while if I had used a sample (in that particular case) I could have gotten what I was looking for, right away.
I hope the connection between the 2 questions is clear.
I also know that everything depends on the song and the sound we're after but I assume everytime a mixer sits behind a desk they don't re-write the book of mixing from scratch. And finally, if the way you approach a project governs the techniques you'll use, would you mind sharing what would be your typical approach for different styles?
Long subject and long thread...I'll shut up now...Thanks, syra
...I hope I didn't scare anyone with the long subject heh heh
As an example of a situation that my questions would apply, today I got this track to mix and when I brought up the faders and solo'ed the drums I briefly said to myself "what should I try now?"...Paralell compress the whole drum buss?...or the kick and snare individually...and that kick could use more body...should I mult?...or should I first try a sample or two...or a combo of the above, or, or, or...you get my point. Is it clearer now or do you guys think these are some super lame questions?...
Syra I don't have the experience and the reputation Dave has but for me I like it best when I open the session and think: ok all it needs is a little bit reverb and I'm doneheh
When I start mixing I make sure I got the idea from the artist of his song (understanding what this song is all about).
When I have the idea I listen where is the song and where does it need to go. The genre sets some marks regarding the tools I use (I'm not going to limit the living .... out of a classical piece ...). I listen to the song before I patch all my outboard to the desk or recall all the latest plug in - because I don't want to overcook my mix. When I hear a track that needs fixing I find myself using the same techniques more than once (parallel compression, reamping, soundreplacing argh, autotune mega argh,...)
Thanks for your input studjo. I guess it IS about fixing sounds...although in that case I am finding myself fixing things 99% of the time heh
I am thinking that maybe the answer to my question is "experience". Maybe big mixers know the moment they hear a sound that it will need a kick mult w/ a low freq sample addition with parallel comp on the whole buss whatever blabla u get my point....
Since Dave doen't seem to think this is an important subject only time will tell if experience is the key.
Since he's a regular fixture at his Enterprise room, I would guess that he leaves his main gear and signal paths set up all the time. That way when Dave thinks, "maybe I should mult this Kick drum", all he has to do is assign it to bus 5 and he's ready to go. Why start from scratch everytime?
The same is true with effects. I used to set up and plug things in differently for every mix, like you said, so that every mix was a custom deal. But I have found that I prefer to keep things mostly the same. That way I can put more focus into the music than plugging things. In Pro Tools, I import my fx returns and the stereo master from the last mix into the new session, and then change my I/O setup to make those busses active. I may not use them all, but I know my options and I know where everything is.
My template is something like this
1-2 Long reverb
3-4 Short bright reverb
5-6 Modulation 1
7-8 Modulation 2
13-14 Wild Card
15-16 filtered delay
17-18 multi FX (for crazy stuff)
19-20 Mult Compressor
21-22 Enigma (one of Dave's settings for now)
Of course I can change any of the settings or presets at any time, but this gives me a place to start, and usually finish.
I don't usually start with individual insert eqs or compressors on anything. As a mixer, you don't really have to reinvent the wheel everytime you sit down. Having a template works for me. It means that I can focus on the things that are different (the music) rather than a set up that is always changing. Since I set it up, it's comfortable, and I can change it if I have some other idea.
Originally posted by syra
ps. where's Thrill when you need him...
I think you hit it on the head, it comes with experience.
I tend to work backwards vocals first, so when i hit the drums it pretty easy to hear what's lacking. It works well for me this way because i end up using less processing and focus more of the sound as a whole.
And yeah i do have certain templates.
I mix on an SSL so i have certain things patched on it as well as on my rack that i send sounds to.
I like my returns from ProTools on certain channels.
On the racks i have effect/dynamic combinations that are hard wired into each other so i can have them right away.
I just pick and choose as i go through the tracks.
When i hit something that just isn't working with one of the setups, i roll up my sleeves and try to figure it out.
These are times by the way where i get to try a new piece of gear. If i hit something that i can't fix with what i have i will order or rent something new or that i haven't used before and see if its up to the task.
If it does the job it stays, if it doesn't it's back to the dealer or the used gear sites.
The most times for me these days is just spent making the mixes special and unique. The part up to that point for me goes pretty quick(a couple of hours).
Its the part after that i agonize over.
When you this everyday you develop your routine.
Basically just figure out what works best for you.thumbsup
I almost never start with the drums first on an a capella song! Always remember that. Syra, I like to have some of my things preset up for me, and I like to redo some things every mix as it relates to templates. I usually go a month or two with similiar efx sends and returns, and them change it all up. I have a 104 input console, so I can leave quite a few things up, and only use them once in every 20-30 mixes. We all use templates to some extent, and when time is a factor, they are real timesavers. You just have to be careful that you chose THAT verb because it was the best, and not because it was THERE. I know this is obvious, but think about it multiplied 30 times, and you can see how you can get an "of the shelf" mix, instead of a "taylored" mix.
When I say I don't use buss compression, I should have said I don't use it all the time. I used it today, because I thot it made my mix sound better.
I usually start with the sound that excites me the most. Sometimes it's a vocal, sometimes it's the drums, sometimes the guitar, sometimes a cowbell. I NEVER start a mix until I can hear the finished product in my head. I will play the ruff, play different tracks, play with myself, until I have the VISION. Sometimes this might take 3 or 4 hours. An interesting thing with ecue, he used to basically do an amazing mix before I came in. It used to throw me off because I liked his so much, I could not think of anything to do myself, because I had his mix in my head.
Another very important factor is confidence. That comes with time. Before I had that, I would second guess myself all the time. Like we said in another thread, your 1st impression is usually the best.
I actually will change gear on a sound until it sounds like I hear it. On the new Christina "Car Wash" song I started with an old Gates StaLevel on her vocal. I just knew it would be right...it sucked. So we tried a fairchild...nope. Then a Neve 33609...not quite. Finally we tried an 1176LN which I have NEVER used on Christina, and it was perfect. How do you know when to change a piece of gear, unless you know what you are looking for? It is never too late to try and make it better. Just don't let the client see you doing it too much.
An interesting question I have never been asked is if I redid a mix from scratch a month later, would it sound basically the same. NO NO NO. When I do a recall, I can't stand to hear what I did, and pretty much make an effort to make it "better". "Better" is where my head is at NOW. I would change it completely, but by clients would freak completely out. I'm not sure I COULD make it sound the same, because I wouldn't have the patience to do it. That would be an engineering exercise, not a MIX. Hum, something to ponder. Your thots?
Extreme, very cool setup, we like alot of the same things. I'm sure you would be quick to point that this is merely a STARTING place, and very seldom do you end up with the template you started with. What multiFX processor do you like? I love the DP4 (Ensoniq), the Korg A1, and the TC Fireworks, along with the old Roland DEP4. I really use a lot of chained efx.
Thrill, dead on. I did a mix a few days ago, where I started with the vocals, and was very happy the way it turned out. What do you feel you gain by always starting with vocals? I really agree with you, that trying to solve the big problems usually leads to a cool eye-opening discovery. That's funny isn't it?
Syra, if my ramblings haven't answered your question, let me know.
Originally posted by Dave Pensado
What multiFX processor do you like? I love the DP4 (Ensoniq),
Thats one of the very few pieces of kit I would never sell. Ive had one for.hmmmm well since they first came out.
Its the delays i Like most. The dont sit on top of the mix, they always seem to blend in and groove with the track. There is no other delay hardware or software that I have been able to get the same or even close to teh same results.
Im quite partial to the verbs on some things, and the phaser as well. Oh, and on occasion using the compressor for mangling has come up with some funky results.
Theres just something about that unit I really love.
Dave I would be very interested in why you like the DP4, which fx you use, and where you use them.
I believe its a classic unit, and highly underrated
The template is just a place to start. That's why I usually start with the last template. That way I can remember what all the FX are doing. If I'm feeling like I need a change, I'll import something from a while back to see what is there. Mostly, importing the FX is a way of speeding up the set up time. There is nothing more boring than setting up 12 aux returns, then labeling the busses, and everything. That's typing and I don't like it. But it has to be done. It's worse to open a session where nothing is labled! So importing the tracks is a real time saver.
I used to have a Boss SE-70. Trading it was one of the most boneheaded things I have ever done. The vocoder in that box has such a vibe, and some of the combos have 16 effects chained toghther. Now, for wild stuff, I use the PitchBlender and TimeBlender stuff, or chain a few things together, or find a loop that adds the color or confusion that I'm looking for. A lot of what I do when I mix adds a musical noise floor. I find that it makes everything sound thicker and like it has more weight. Digital mixing can sound too discrete. I'm always looking for new ways to "big" things up.
Wow...I take a few days off and now this thread has the answers I've been looking for...
First of all thank you Extreme, Thrill and Dave...your input is much appreciated.
I do too have templates (5 Aux's) that I import when I start a session and take it from there. I do see that I would be more flexible if these were 10 or more. I also like the idea of chaining effects together. I recently got an H8000 thinking I needed good reverbs and I fell so in love with all of its choruses and delay programs that I now feel I need 4 or 5 of them!
Having a lot of outboard gives you the power to hardwire things. Having a few pieces leaves you being very picky about how you'll chain them...I'm happy to hear though Dave, that you too sometimes feel like something's gonna work 100% and it doens't. It shows that engineering-wise the challenge is never really over...
I also really like what you guys said about the musical side of things. Freqs are cool but lets not loose the big picture...the song. I am at a point in my life that I am still trying to find a good balance as a mixer although the outcome of "practice makes perfect" is glowing everytime I sit down to mix.
Having a vision of the finished mix in your head is also what I may have to work on a bit more. Unless you know what you're looking for, how are you gonna find it? I'll spend more time thinking than doing without a plan.
...ok guys, again thanx a lot. Its time to stop typing and turn your words into actions heh heh
I would NEVER consider myself as a mix guy (there are waaaayyyyy too many great mix guys to rely on!). As a producer, when I make roughs for the mix guy, I often start with the vocals, and then move to the drums/ perc. For me, if only one thing is going to be heard, it's the vocals, and more often than not, the average listener will "truly" only pick up 3 things (IMHO)- the vocals, the groove, and perhaps that hooky melodic sound to play around the vocals. If those are present, and really happening, you can get away with so much less in productions and mixes. I think the R&B and rap realms have definitely hit this, for sure. That's not to say that I wouldn't do bigger productions- I just finished programming/ tracking a Beatle-esque tune that had around 180 tracks (yikes!) But anyway...... I digress......