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Most useful mixing trick you learned from pros
Old 31st May 2019
  #1
Gear Addict
Most useful mixing trick you learned from pros

Please post surprising mixing tricks that you learned from someone. Something that is simple, and actually works more often than not.


I have two.

The 1st one is courtesy of CLA, from one of his mixing videos, I find his approach kind of funny with him carelessly twisting all the knobs to the max and moving on to the next channel quickly. I don't think I actually learned anything useful from his videos that I've seen so far, but he's sure entertaining to watch with that eye twitching and leg tapping and some funny comments like "oh, he's not done yet (about another vocal part at the end of the song)".

Anyway... here's tip #1

He said "this is what I always do", twisting 500Hz on the SSL to -15dB (I think Q was set at default 1.5, don't remember and don't have that video anymore) when working on a kick drum.

That's it. Instant magic. All the boom gone. Just a balanced, clean punchy sound.

Normally I'd spend an hour trying to get the same result but working in the wrong (sort of) area, trying to dip 350, then some extra 100-200 etc. etc and end up with too much EQ and still a bad result.

Just dipping the crap out of 500Hz (or so) pretty much gets me to 95% of the desired result. I don't always do -15dB (depending on a kick or drum loop), but -12dB works magic on drums overall in CLA Mixhub at least (other plugins/eq may have different response of course).

Tip #2

(I think it's from Ariel Chobaz video on PLAP channel, but I've heard/saw this done by other engineers so must be a known trick)

Electric guitars - boost 1400Hz. Instant guitarfication.
Old 31st May 2019
  #2
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GJ999x's Avatar
Hmmm personally I don't usually go in for these auto-eq approaches.

Dave Pensado's ITL, especially the early ones, are probably my best single source of tips.
Old 31st May 2019
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Gain staging
Old 31st May 2019
  #4
Gear Addict
 

Andrew Scheps approach to parallel compression and rear bus technique was the ‘ah ha’ moment for me. All the missing energy suddenly flooded through.
Not a complete fix by any means, but clarification for sure.
Old 31st May 2019
  #5
Gear Maniac
1. Brauerize - Buss structure
2. Kenny Gioia - De-esser by only using clip gain
3. Kenny Gioia - EQ approach: cut before comp, boost after
Old 31st May 2019
  #6
"Keep your timber limber and don't let your meat loaf"
From guess who?
Old 31st May 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
"Keep your timber limber and don't let your meat loaf"
From guess who?
-Timbaland on producing the artist Meat Loaf
Old 31st May 2019
  #8
I think it was Eric Ambel who explained how he can mix a whole album on his home system using monitors w/ 4" woofers, using metering and good headphones to set kick/bass levels and letting the natural low-pass of the smaller monitors work to his advantage. That was an eye opener for me.

There was also a discussion about setting lead vocal levels in mono, which is a trick that has saved me a lot of back-and-forth with vocals up/vocals down over and over.
Old 31st May 2019
  #9
Not a trick, actually quite basic: checking in mono.
Admittedly, I have not up till recently and have gotten away with it. Specifically: passing the smartphone test.
Not a complete EQ picture by any means, but it has forced me to re-look at my mixes time and again.
Old 31st May 2019
  #10
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuieve View Post
He said "this is what I always do", twisting 500Hz on the SSL to -15dB (I think Q was set at default 1.5, don't remember and don't have that video anymore) when working on a kick drum.
So true. And so 80's pop/90's Nashville. I really liked it when people started leaving a bit more of that in, not just in the kick but in everything. And these days my favorite mastering folks are the ones who don't just reflexively yank that stuff out. There's a lotta guts residing in that region.
Old 31st May 2019
  #11
The only thing that matters is what's coming out of the speakers. - A. Scheps
Old 31st May 2019
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MixedSignals View Post
Not a trick, actually quite basic: checking in mono.
Admittedly, I have not up till recently and have gotten away with it. Specifically: passing the smartphone test.
Not a complete EQ picture by any means, but it has forced me to re-look at my mixes time and again.
I like to check on my phone too...it's very unforgiving!

Be sure to orient the body of the phone in "landscape" while listening to get closer to proper balance between the L and R channels. It sounds way different than holding it like you were making a phone call.
Old 31st May 2019
  #13
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Oldone's Avatar
50 Hz is a man's frequency - John McBride.
Old 31st May 2019
  #14
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robby in WA View Post
The only thing that matters is what's coming out of the speakers. - A. Scheps
That one has so many ramifications, I love it. Don't make excuses, no one cares what gear you're using, and so on.

I guess I got the narrow cuts thing from Tom Elmhirst who's on a banner at the top of this page right now. I saw a guy in town doing the same thing. Ever since then it's been a part of my repertoire.

Once you kill a lot of those annoying frequencies a mix can really open itself up. Or a track/source.
Old 31st May 2019
  #15
Gear Addict
 

In reference to the mids/low mids cut in bass drums: I think there was a moment in time (maybe in the 80's, I don't know) in which was made a "rule" in rock/metal that bass drums have to be low mid-less. Low mid scoop in bass drums is almost mandatory in rock related music, seems that no one likes a bass drum with its natural full body spectrum, it's perceived as muddy
Old 1st June 2019
  #16
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Drumsound's Avatar
About 15 years ago J Hall came to town to work on a couple mixes. He was the first person to show me parallel compression, and that was a big advance in my mixes. Before that my good friend Chuck Fudge, who was a veteran FOH guy taught me about EQ cuts (Cut and RE-gain he'd say) and checking polarity.
Old 1st June 2019
  #17
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jiffybox's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
"Keep your timber limber and don't let your meat loaf"
From guess who?
Ummmm...David Lee Roth?
Old 5th June 2019
  #18
1. Brauerize
There's so much to learn and adapt from his approach. It's not about copying it, but to grasp the thinking behind it which is purely musical and not technical. Besides the multibus, lead vocal multicomp and parallel compression one of the gems his splitting of the bass. This is not just low and hi with corresponding cutoffs, but a more complex musical division into body and neck.
2. Vance Powell
His use and calibration of parallel processors was really insightful
3. Rms compression on SSL
This I learned years ago from a veteran producer having grown up on SSLs. It's not a secret but I didn't know. Setting up the compression on an SSL channel not by setting ratio first, but by setting the threshold all the way and then raising the ratio, preferably until you hit the first LED. Awesome sound, ready for automation.
4. NOT copying techniques from a desk to a DAW without evaluating
So many times you read, see or hear about a pro doing this and that. If they are on a desk, chances are it won't work in a DAW. E.g. CLA can get away cranking so much highs into his compressors because he runs the desk so hot and the SSL has a natural rolloff on the top. Doing this in a DAW will sound much harsher, no matter how many console emulation plugins you use
5. Less is always more
So many techniques around and you wanna try them all. It's important to focus on how you like to work and what helps you getting along and results quickly. Ditch all the supercomplicated fancy stuff you don't really need. A befriended pro mixer does use nothing but most basic mixing to this day and it sounds amazing. He also told me:
6. Don't let anyone tell you you're doing it wrong...
... as long as you sound good.
7. Shelly Yakus
I almost forgot. Every word from Shelly is pure knowledge. He has made so many amazing records and often was years ahead of the time. So much to learn from him.
Old 5th June 2019
  #19
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XKAudio's Avatar
 

Adjusting a sounds height with filters

Starting from the loudest part of the song and moving lower in energy.

More time mixing = more thinking = a specific sound.

Last edited by XKAudio; 5th June 2019 at 08:59 AM..
Old 5th June 2019
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Looking at a spectrum analyzer. They never get tired. Don't have any confirmation bias and never lie.
Old 5th June 2019
  #21
This is a caveman tip, but it's as technical as anything, too. I had Paul Tipler mix a couple of my songs a few years back. He'd worked with heroes of mine and I was keen to learn as much as I could as I watched him work. I figured I'd see Paul pull a few magic rabbits out or such. Instead, the main thing I got from this session was, uh, watching him listen. He'd work the track, tweaking levels, EQ and compression etc, then he'd play the track from the top, staring at the speakers with his ears. When the track was done, he'd make adjustments, then play it again from the top, all the way through. We mixed two songs in a 10-hour session, and aside from his vivid tales of recording Julian Cope, my main image of the whole day was of him listening intently to the track at hand.
Old 5th June 2019
  #22
Close your eyes. I learned that from Stevie Wonder.
Old 5th June 2019
  #23
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andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Close your eyes. I learned that from Stevie Wonder.
I have a corner of my screen set as screen mute when I park the mouse there.
Invaluable for when the artists come in to listen to a mix. Some of them rediscover their ears this way.
Old 5th June 2019
  #24
My pro tips

Making a cleaner track buy EQing each track and pulling down all the frequencies you are not using. Most of the stuff I learned about mixing was not from pros it was by doing and listening!
Old 5th June 2019
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Behold, a leader, not a follower. Bravo. The world needs more people like you.
Old 5th June 2019
  #26
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I have two, the first trick is knowing how to spot mythology and voodoo, the second is actually knowing when/how to use everything else.
Old 5th June 2019
  #27
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vernier's Avatar
Watching Roy Thomas Baker mix was an eye-opener ...and yielded a cornucopia of ideas.
Old 5th June 2019
  #28
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp View Post
I have a corner of my screen set as screen mute when I park the mouse there.
Invaluable for when the artists come in to listen to a mix. Some of them rediscover their ears this way.
That's super cool. How do you do that? Is there a mac version?
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Watching Roy Thomas Baker mix was an eye-opener ...and yielded a cornucopia of ideas.
I'd love to hear more details about that!!!

You could start a thread "That time I watched Roy Thomas Baker Mix" it would be awesome.
Old 5th June 2019
  #29
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andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
That's super cool. How do you do that? Is there a mac version?(...).
It *is* a Mac.
Look for „active corners“ in the system settings. The exact words may be a bit different, though, my system is in German. You can assign a function to each screen corner.
Old 5th June 2019
  #30
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp View Post
It *is* a Mac.
Look for „active corners“ in the system settings. The exact words may be a bit different, though, my system is in German. You can assign a function to each screen corner.
Thank you! I had no idea that was a thing.
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