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at what point do you STOP mixing? Digital Converters
Old 17th November 2003
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

at what point do you STOP mixing?

Ok guys,

I've been mixing a song for the past while and I keep getting closer and closer to a really good mix. (shootin for commercial sound on personal project)


now at what point to keep pushing this mix before I send it out to an ME?

As I add on to the master buss the mix becomes more and more like a commercial sounding album but not quite since I don't have the right tools for the job. I am more-less using good refference Cd's to match mixes and dynamics with my mix.

So... dynamicaly, where do you stop mixing? Do you keep pushing for good sound or do you let the mastering do the job?

What does the ME expect? I haven't had the chance to work with one yet and I'd like to send this project out to get done.

Thanks

Jason
Old 17th November 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Re: at what point do you STOP mixing?

Quote:
Originally posted by Jason Poulin
Ok guys,

I've been mixing a song for the past while and I keep getting closer and closer to a really good mix. (shootin for commercial sound on personal project)


now at what point to keep pushing this mix before I send it out to an ME?

As I add on to the master buss the mix becomes more and more like a commercial sounding album but not quite since I don't have the right tools for the job. I am more-less using good refference Cd's to match mixes and dynamics with my mix.

So... dynamicaly, where do you stop mixing? Do you keep pushing for good sound or do you let the mastering do the job?

What does the ME expect? I haven't had the chance to work with one yet and I'd like to send this project out to get done.

Thanks

Jason
Knowing when you're done and when to keep tweaking is the piece of wisdom that separates the great from the mediocre. I try to print as many mixes as possible within reason in case I go too far. (I don't have automation, and have ruined many a mix by overtweaking). Most MEs I deal with tell me they don't want any compression on the 2-buss, but I tend to ignore their instruction. I get the tune sounding the way I think it should be sounding. If all they're able to do is a little corrective EQ, so be it.

The one time I did try to cooperate with a ME and leave the 2-buss compressor turned off, he ruined all the tracks and it resulted in one of the most embarrassing examples of my work to date. Good luck.
Old 17th November 2003
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
dtobocman's Avatar
 

I do compress the mix buss, but only for sound (mix cohesion), not for level, and nothing too extreme, unless that's the idea musically. I leave maximizing level for the mastering engineer. I don't EQ the mix buss; I'll get the sounds I want from individual tracks. I might EQ the mix for fun and note what I did for discussion with the mastering engineer.

Knowing when to stop is the mark of a true artist. Not just with mixing; sometimes it's the defining aesthetic choice. With DAW-based mixing, it's easy to make more and more alternates to confirm that stopping way back there was the correct choice; the nice thing is that you can keep your mixes and pick the best one. The only danger is screwing up your head so much that you can no longer discern the best choice.

I like boldly committing to a choice; I find it to be the most eduactional and gratifying way of doing things. I'm a huge fan of Beatles Era production, where they had to commit to choices a long the way -- I think it just makes the whole thing sound so much more emotional and ballsy when you have to commit and everything isn't "virtual" until the day the record is pressed. I also dig early stereo recordings straight to 2-track (Sinatra, for instance) for the same reason.

It's a great area of thought and philosophizing. I have trouble having fun when so many choices are up in the air for so long. Forward motion is very important in my creative world.

Wandering around a bit, but somewhere near the point....
Old 17th November 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

yea, so many choices. It will never end.

Thanks for the replies.

I'm taking note of everything.

Jason
Old 17th November 2003
  #5
Quote:
Originally posted by dtobocman
I also dig early stereo recordings straight to 2-track (Sinatra, for instance) for the same reason.
Having players of that caliber makes the AE look like a hero.
Old 17th November 2003
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
dtobocman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by NathanEldred
Having players of that caliber makes the AE look like a hero.
Oh so right, but setting up a mix, rolling tape, and that's the record takes big balls, and those records have the big bold sound of confidence, don't they?

If you've ever been to a "straight to 2-track" session, you'll never forget the excitement of hearing great moments pile up and hoping that nothing goes wrong before the end. Even when takes are edited together, the spirit of commitment is still there. I still get a real charge out of a great basic tracking session for the same reason.
Old 17th November 2003
  #7
Gear Addict
 
Robotnik's Avatar
 

Re: at what point do you STOP mixing?

Quote:
Originally posted by Jason Poulin
So... dynamicaly, where do you stop mixing? Do you keep pushing for good sound or do you let the mastering do the job?
I know the mix is near done when I start to touch the faders less and less at each pass.
Old 18th November 2003
  #8
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Re: Re: at what point do you STOP mixing?

Quote:
Originally posted by Robotnik
I know the mix is near done when I start to touch the faders less and less at each pass.
I love mixing to this point. what sucks is approaching a mix with time constraints.
Old 18th November 2003
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Alécio Costa's Avatar
 

I stop when: a)I feel my ears are getting tired
b) I´m too hungry
c) After 5 hours tweaking;
I just do a new revie in the next day at the first hour.
Old 18th November 2003
  #10
"So... dynamicaly, where do you stop mixing? Do you keep pushing for good sound or do you let the mastering do the job?"

I often monitor with a Finalizer towards the end stages of a mix...(but I stay clear of the EQ)

Then print "my" version and one with the Finalizer bypassed for the Mastering Engineer.. (usually at 96k 24 bit)

The 'loudness tricks' on the finalizer allow me to A/B with commercial CD's and get my work "in the ballpark".

I used to do all that with plug ins but have returned to the Finalizer as I prefer it's sound (except the eq section which IS metallic IMHO)

(I toggle between CD's and my mix on my DAC-1)

You need to switch all that loudness crap off though if it is going to a DECENT mastering facility.... Let them put THEIR loudness crap on it, it's probably way better!

Old 18th November 2003
  #11
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Alécio Costa's Avatar
 

Jules, I also used to do the very same thing. I would monitor with TC MAster X just to see how things would go or not.
Old 18th November 2003
  #12
Gear Addict
 
Beezoboy's Avatar
 

Don't forget that at a certain point in the mix it becomes taste. In my opinion if you:

a) have the individual instruments sounding good
b) have the instruments/voice blending well together
c) maintained the songs energy and/or vibe from start to finish

To me, after that it is just taste. You can always add little delays to vocals or snare hits. Maybe reverb on the bass drum in quiet parts to make it sound bigger. Whatever you do from the point where you don't have to touch a fader, assuming you have automation, is taste. Obviously this is over-simplified, and I am sure some people will disagree.

Beez
Old 18th November 2003
  #13
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nlc201's Avatar
 

Re: Re: Re: at what point do you STOP mixing?

Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Smith
I love mixing to this point. what sucks is approaching a mix with time constraints.


That's quite interesting. Sometimes I find a deadline is just what I need to get me in the right mindset. A lot of work I do is post-related and thus comes with a firm deadline and alloted amount of time to work. At my facility, this also applies to many of my music clients as well. When you, as a client, are paying for studio time (this is mostly non-record label stuff), you may like to tweak till thew cows come home but that's certainly not always a fiscal reality. That has definitely affected the manner in which I approach things. It's almost as if a burden has been lifted by having a time period pre-decided, whether by deadline or budget. I feel like I can concentrate more on what's really important rather than spending 3 hours getting the ultimate hi hat sound (cause you know that's gonna make it a hit!).

Now, please do not infer that I in anyway don't care about the quality of what leaves my hands. I take my work very personally as does everyone here. The excuse of "well the mix sucks because I didn't have enough time" will never be uttered. Granted there are situations where I would have loved to have some more time on projects, but never did I feel that the mixes were really lacking. This is not because I see myself as some great mixer, far from it. I know that I gave 110% (as I try to do always) and played with the hand dealt. Circumstance can defeat the most well laid plans. So, just go with it. The problem in not knowing when to quit is one of giving up control. Try to give yourself a dealine and stick to it. Take away that *illusion* of complete control before you start and just mix the song.

I'm not saying this is easy or care free. I get stressed quite a bit working on deadlines (not so much now after geting used to it). But, it's just a matter of rolling with it, doing the best job you can, and focusing on what's really important (not the penultimate Tom Lord-Alge shaker sound). A deadline can really help to focus how you approach things. Just be sure you're disciplined enough to respect it or it wouldn't really be a deadline, would it?

Just a method that I've found helps. Now if I only had that mystical madebygodsong tube betterizer, I could just throw up the faders and be done
Old 18th November 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 

The first thing I do is turn my enginneer hat to the side and just listen like a fan. The engiineer sits quietly and waits until the fan seems to be upset or says "wow, what if it was like this?.

So the two of us, the fan and the engineer sit and listen. I always start at the beginning and play until the first thing bothers me and I change it. I go back and play from the top. Always from the top. When I get all the way through and don't want to change anything, or can't imagine something different, I'm done.
Old 18th November 2003
  #15
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by dtobocman
If you've ever been to a "straight to 2-track" session, you'll never forget the excitement of hearing great moments pile up and hoping that nothing goes wrong before the end.
I think the most amazing listening experience I've had to date was at Chris Muth's place in NYC. He played me a direct to disc recording of TOP. Not only was it live to 2-track but they were cutting THE master (vinyl) as the band was playing. Talk about pressure. It's was really amazing and eye-opening for me. Going direct to 2-track tape is one thing but direct to vinyl? Wow.
Old 18th November 2003
  #16
Gear Addict
 
Robotnik's Avatar
 

Re: Re: Re: at what point do you STOP mixing?

Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Smith
I love mixing to this point. what sucks is approaching a mix with time constraints.
I can get the mix where I want it in around 3hrs. Then, I give the band another 1hr to listen to it alone and make note of changes. After this, it takes about another 3hrs to complete it with the band in the room. 8hr day total including 1hr dinner break.
Old 18th November 2003
  #17
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
When I can listen the whole song and move my body to it but NOT move a fader.

Leave the limiting and EQ off. Let the ME take care of that for you. There are times when I add some top with an EQ but it's pretty rare and I only add it if it's really needed.
Old 18th November 2003
  #18
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Re: Re: Re: Re: at what point do you STOP mixing?

Quote:
Originally posted by Robotnik
I can get the mix where I want it in around 3hrs. Then, I give the band another 1hr to listen to it alone and make note of changes. After this, it takes about another 3hrs to complete it with the band in the room. 8hr day total including 1hr dinner break.
That is a great schedule, and my general MO. A song a day just seems to fit, doesnt' it?

I start a 10 song album mix tommorow that goes to mastering on Friday to make a christmas schedule.... guess its time to shake off the dust
Old 18th November 2003
  #19
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Tim L's Avatar
 

When I'm not moved to change another thing. Certainly doesn't mean the mix might not need something more (or less), just that nothing's striking me at that point in time... I mean is "the mix" ever really done, ever?
Old 18th November 2003
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

Thanks again everyone.

I've been monitoring alot with the DBX Quantum MP with the PSX100 and a/b the mix to some refference Cd's.

I'll be sending this work to Euphonic (friendly quote, good rep on this site, prompt replies = good buisness)

how far do your mixes get to commercial sounding once you add the cheese on the master buss (for monitoring purposes)? then bypass it... huge difference?

thanks again for the info.


nlc201
"Now if I only had that mystical madebygodsong tube betterizer, I could just throw up the faders and be done"

Doesn't funklogic have one of those???

Jason
Old 18th November 2003
  #21
Quote:
Originally posted by Jason Poulin
Thanks again everyone.

I've been monitoring alot with the DBX Quantum MP and a/b the mix to some refference Cd's.

I'll be sending this work to Euphonic (friendly quote, good rep on this site, prompt replies = good buisness)

how far do your mixes get to commercial sounding once you add the cheese on the master buss (for monitoring purposes)? then bypass it... huge difference?

thanks again for the info.

Jason

How far?

Try to get the mix the closest you can without all of the cheese stuff. I think sometimes you can get too caught up in the "after(mastering)" part and miss the possibilities of the "now(mixing)".

I think if you attended the mastering session that would help you alot. You could really hear what things sound like. Also if there are any problem areas in your mixing enviroment you can hear those too.
Old 18th November 2003
  #22
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jason Poulin

how far do your mixes get to commercial sounding once you add the cheese on the master buss (for monitoring purposes)? then bypass it... huge difference?
I never monitor through any kind of limiter. Why? All it does is make things sound bad to me. Same thing goes for all 2-buss "mastering" related processing. I get the mix as close as I can before I send it out for mastering. Thanfully mastering is rarely a salvage job though I have sent out mixes that I hated and the client liked.

Rather then try to match really hot commercial CD levels I ripped songs I like & know off CD's and made a disc with everything backed down to 0VU. Now I can hit play on the CD player and what's coming out of it is pretty closely matched to a normal mix. It made it MUCH easier to A/B mixes.
Old 18th November 2003
  #23
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

That's a great technique Jay.

I'd like to add that I'm not a big fan of making things louder because that's what most people like. Big woop for my preference (changes for clients)

When you get something sounding as perfect as you can get it in the mix, how does that relate in terms of compression.

If I get the drums snappy and punchy and pretty damn near where I want them with compression and Eq, wouldn't the ME's comp ruin that effect? shouldn't I leave a little space for him to jump in and test out the water with his gear?

Anyhow, I'm understanding 100% what you guys are telling me and it's helping alot. I'm right into this.

Like I said, this is a personal project and not for a client. Therefore, this can go anywhere I like and there is no time limit. Everything was very well tracked so it can go anywhere.

I'm learning lots here.

Thanks again!!

Jason
Old 19th November 2003
  #24
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Re: Re: Re: Re: at what point do you STOP mixing?

Quote:
Originally posted by Robotnik
I can get the mix where I want it in around 3hrs. Then, I give the band another 1hr to listen to it alone and make note of changes. After this, it takes about another 3hrs to complete it with the band in the room. 8hr day total including 1hr dinner break.
I do much the same thing, only I'll time shift it so that I'm coming in the next morning to make the final tweaks on fresh ears.

-R
Old 19th November 2003
  #25
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jason Poulin
Like I said, this is a personal project and not for a client. Therefore, this can go anywhere I like and there is no time limit. Everything was very well tracked so it can go anywhere.

]
Well when you stipulate it that way there is no answer. You'll just have to decide for yourself what it is and when it's done. You're asking other people as if there's some "right" answer.

You need to suck it in and make a personal committment. "Cowboy up!"

Stop worrying about what the ME is going to think. It's his job to take whatever idiosyncratic mess you come up with and somehow make it work in the real world. You say you're the artist? Indulge. Don't ask. Tell.

-R
Old 19th November 2003
  #26
Gear Nut
 

The time to stop is just shortly BEFORE you think it's gonna be perfect....
Old 19th November 2003
  #27
Gear Head
 
PultecTweaker's Avatar
 

I tend to drive in my car with the mixes, and become
a listener. With traffic, and going 70mph or faster,
you just feel the vibe of the overall song.

If you know your car stereo system inside and out.

I'll put a few mixes on a cd, and can easily pick which
one I like the best.
Old 19th November 2003
  #28
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Tony Clarke of Moody Blues fame told me that a producer's main job is to decide when it's done.
Old 19th November 2003
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

2 Answers:

#1. I like to Stop Mixing when I'm done.

#2. I like to Remix everything right after I play it for somebody or if I hadn't heard it in a while. Then it's done again.
Old 19th November 2003
  #30
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jason Poulin
If I get the drums snappy and punchy and pretty damn near where I want them with compression and Eq, wouldn't the ME's comp ruin that effect? shouldn't I leave a little space for him to jump in and test out the water with his gear?
Huh?

Are you talking about 2-buss compression or channel compression? The ME is only going to be compressing (or not compressing) the entire mix. Unless you're talking about stem mixing in which case he might use additional compression on the drums or whatever if the ME feels it's needed. I'll compress my 2-buss however I want to and if the ME feels it needs additional compression then they can add more. I've had several projects done with no additional compresson in mastering, just a little EQ and limiting.

At some point you need to stop second guessing yourself and just commit. If you can't commit then chances are the mixes aren't done or you should be leaving the mixing duty's to someone else. Knowing when to do the latter is a tough call to make if ego gets in the way but you need to do what's right for the project. I should've done that with the last EP I sent out for mastering. The client was happy with it but I know it could've been better if someone else had mixed it.
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