thread: my mixing...
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Old 9th April 2007
where to start

hello everyone

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