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Old 9th August 2011
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Originally Posted by LinusWendel View Post
please take me through how you approach mixing. do you start with all faders up? drums first? quick rough mix? many breaks?
I usually start with the drums. It is very difficult to start piling things up without the drum sound pinned down. Once I have the drum sound together I start adding other elements bass, guitars, keys, vocals. I can tell pretty quick if I didn't get the drum sound right. usually you can tell because everything starts to fall apart when you add the other elements. The drum sound gets buried to easily, things aren't staying defined, Things are sounding harsh. I will usually start to A/B to some other mixes I like and be able to tell if i am on the right track. If I am not on the right track I immediately announce "NOPE!" and pull down the faders and start over. I find it is easier when mixing on a console to just pull everything down and start over by bringing things up one by one and just trying a fundamentally different approach ala more individual compression on the drums vs. buss compression switch to a different EQ on the kick, try using a room mic for the kick low end or something. Something that will change the overall approach. For me, the kick sound seems to be the single most important element for setting the stage for the overall mix. If the kick doesn't have that really punchy clear, well defined low end it is really hard for me to push the high end and then mix ends up sounding mid rangy and small. That was a significant discovery for me… the character of low end has a huge affect on how bright I can make things.

I do try to move quickly. It seems that my ears start change how I hear something if I listen to the same thing over and over again without any pauses. That is one of the advantages of mixing from tape machines is that they impose constant intermittent pauses that I think is healthy for ear fatigue. On the computer my impatience will get the best of me and I will tend to have sound constantly coming out of the speakers and my ears start to accommodate deficiencies in the EQing. I like to mix a song mostly in one day and take home a 1stpass over night. I actually will listen to it on my way in the next morning in my car. If everything is going well I will most likely make some small adjustments to the low end, do some final vocal rides and refine some pushes and I'll be ready to print that song. If things are not translating to the car then a resounding "NOPE!" can be heard from the control room and the faders get pulled down

One of the other things that is important throughout the process is to resist always turning things up when they need to have a more significant presence in the mix. When I feel something needs to be turned up I first look at the over all level on the final mix buss. If the mix buss is already peaking as high as it should, than I start looking for things that might be masking that element in the mix that isn't loud enough and turn that down instead. It avoids the problem of getting to a point in a mix where you have to trim everything down to get the gain structure under control. It is always very unsettling for me to have to trim down all of the faders on the console globally a few dB at the end of a mix. It is just to easy to make a mistake and have something get out of balance.