How Do You Mix Today?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Dave McNair, Oct 30, 2001.

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  1. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    I have some of that as well, a sound triggers an image of a space or a space triggers an imagined sound. Vision and hearing are closely associated because it really benefits navigating a 3D environment. The differences between people are probably in the part of the brain where the various sensory inputs are integrated. For most people it all just works without them knowing but others can see parts of the process in action. You're probably seeing the more organized part of the process and I'm probably seeing auditory information leaking into my visual perception before it's been properly organized.
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    hey! what works, works. right? it's all good!
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    Me, I envision the performance and try and put everyone on a stage as I'm in the audience or in a movie I have in my mind.
     
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    I think it's safe to say then, that we pretty much all "visualize" mixes to some degree or another. The methods we use, and images we picture, just varies from cooker to cooker, is all...

    There is no right or wrong, there's just what works for each person. If you're turning out mixes that sound good, then what difference does it make what we each visualize? ;)
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    Music is interpretations made into an auditory art form. It can never be right or wrong, it just is.

    There is a clear difference between music and recording. Recording is not music. Recording is a technology that uses electronic tools to capture audio which can be confusing to those who don't know the difference between art and gear lol.

    Mixing is not much different than an editor. But that all changes when we have weird $*^t happen to the recording that isn't the way we interpreted it.

    When it gets so ^#$%ed up that we can't do anything more with it, its always relieving to pass it off as art. And so it goes... Technology and art. Its a weird business but damn fun!
     
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    there's this guy, David Gibson. He was the instructor at the recording school at the Music Annex in Menlo Park CA when i attended. thank goodness he didn't teach this stuff. it was actually a pretty straight ahead course. anyhoooo ......... lol!

     
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Quick question about mixing.
    Do you start mixing while recording?

    I always do volumes and pans while tracking and sometimes I add EQ comp and verb here and there. So by the time we are recording the final vocals there is a good part of the mixing done. It's a good thing for the artists because they have a better mix to perform on. But I just wondered if I shouldn't do volume and pan only. That way I would start the mixing with all the elements in place and not having to deal with adjustments I might have done with fatigued ears.

    Oh and also, that would assure all the computer ressources are available for the recording work
     
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    there's a lot to be said for tracking into a mix but with DAWs latency can be problem. start adding plugs and processing and your new tracks can be behind the others. with multiple overdubs it can get worse.
     
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  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    Thanks for the video, Kurt, but I was asleep before half way through. Something about the voice.... How did you guys ever manage at Music Annex?

    Regarding starting the mix when tracking, I'm solidly from a live recording background, and the object there was to capture as clean a set of tracks as possible. So no EQ except for HP on input, and no directly printed effects.

    It took me quite a while to find a way of dealing with vocal compression (limiting) being captured via the ambient mics and giving subsequent problems of pumping at mixdown, but once I had learnt to assign tracks for both the raw and compressed live vocals, things suddenly became easier. It's odd that this particular problem is very rarely mentioned in the literature on live recording.
     
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  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    Thanks as well, Kurt. I didn't even get 1/8 through. Maybe I need more flashing lights lol!
    I agree and disagree. Precisely why I continue to relentlessly express why I invest in good converters and an interface that runs like a dragster, not an old truck. I never experience the lags and troubles anymore. The lower end converters and your average interfacing (under demand) sucks. Plain and simple.
    So, when you guys say things like this, it tells me one thing (no disrespect intended) ... If you are experiencing this much latency and dismay... you are using poor, outdated etc etc interfacing with poor computing.
     
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    I never experienced unaligned tracks in that fashion. I guess sonar's latency compensation is compensating for playback AND recording .
     
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  12. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    Same here, in Sony Vegas etc.
     
  13. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    So what do you do, if you find those are not in order?

    Do you replace the bass or drum sounds with samples? Do you replay the baseline on a fretless bass?

    In other words, let's assume it's a mess....what do you do about that? Do you replay it yourself? Do you attempt to fix it with EQ? What?
     
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Yes.

    Unless I'm mixing tracks that were recorded by a client, and are then sent to me to mix, very rarely do I just record all the parts and then start mixing from scratch after all the planned tracks have been recorded.
    I don't think it's as much about it being a time saver ( although I suppose that's an advantage too) but more about how I envision the final output; and getting started on a mix while tracks are still being recorded helps me to fulfill that vision.
    Although, I don't believe that this was something that I was "taught", but more that I just kinda started doing it on my own.
    Without a doubt, I can say that this mixing method started back when I was working with consoles, ( more split than inline design)...but I still do this today in DAW-land as well.

    As a song/mix/production grows, I find it helpful to start "sitting" the recorded tracks into a mix ( of sorts). It may be a rough mix, but I'm still starting to put things in their place(s), and in their space(s), in relationship to the other parts.
    I think that this workflow is helpful - because as a song morphs, you may find other additional tracks that you want to record ( or don't want to record!) that maybe hadn't been planned in relation to what has already been tracked.
    And, just as often as wanting to add parts to compliment what has already been recorded, I'll also take parts away, too.

    And, I've also found that vocalists/soloists seem to have more charisma, more feeling when they are performing to a good-sounding 2 mix through their cans.

    We all have our own ways, our own preferred methods and workflows, and I don't believe that there is a "right" or "wrong" way of doing things, there's only the way that you feel works best for you, that which benefits the song, and my own workflow generally leans towards getting started on a mix at the same time that tracks are still being laid down.

    I dunno, maybe this method is more of a "production" thing, as opposed to being an engineering style?

    Then again, over the years, I've learned that very often, the line between "engineering" and "producing" can be a very thin one. It's not uncommon for those two things to frequently overlap. ;)

    IMHO of course.
    -d.
     
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  15. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    I mix as I track to have something decent to play to, but when I'm done tracking I start over from scratch. It's too easy to get used to things that aren't quite right so a fresh start is preferable.
     
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  16. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    I think I'm with Boulder on this.

    I find it much easier (get more unified gain structures that translates) to mix a session when its completed all the tracking rather than tracking and overdubbing to a mix in progress. The gain staging / gain structure inconsistencies gets really weird when tracking and overdubbing to a mix that has been altered. I suck at having to change my analog sweet spots. Drives me crazy trying to match once established gain structures to moving ITB levels. But I do, set gains so the faders don't really need to be moved much until it comes "time" to mix. Maybe this is what you mean Donny?

    To expand on this, I find both talent monitoring and capturing the unprocessed "source" to an unprocessed mix translates throughout a mix as being preformed together, better.

    From a performers POV, tracking to a mix in progress is like trying to sing to Karaoke. I find this also adds a weird morphed like sonic structure.
    There are no rules to art but I definitely have better results from both a musicians POV and from a mixing POV, when I mix a session that is tracked and completed before its gone through the factory. I think my problem is, it seems to me take longer to finish it and I always feel like there is something wrong.

    I'm sure others related to this. How many times have you got that scratch track so nice but know you should do it all over, but don't because its like trying to reinvent art. Those mixes are endless hours of matching sonics.

    I kind of follow these things:
    • If there is any acoustic tracking, (other than basic reverb or delay) I try to restrain myself from doing much to a mix (ITB) before its ready
    • When tracking, I track, when mixing, I mix. When in analog, I try to keep all those analog sweet spots consistant rather than forcing them to compensate to fit processing ITB.
    • When VSTi is used, I am less of a concern about matching acoustic gain structure.
    • When blending VSTi and acoustic music together, I generally stay away from over processed samples that sound like they came from another studio. My goal would then be to match the sample quality to my analog source, not the other way around.
    • If there is little vocal content, and/ or I am basically creating , then I just go with the flow and do whatever it takes to get my idea down which is what I think Boulder just said in a sentence below.
    My problem is, I don't get used to it. I end up mixing and mixing and mixing lol :coffee:
     
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  17. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    Most of the "mixing" I do during tracking is geared toward performer requests and specific needs. The bass player wants to hear kick and snare out front. The singer doesn't need to hear fretless stringed instruments, just the fretted ones for pitch. I do like to address the more obvious dynamics issues up front so overdub performances are naturally more dynamically controlled before they hit the mic. But all the while I'm also building in elements of a finished mix so each added track is naturally played in a way that's more representative of the finished product. The closer the performance is to its final state the less time I have to spend making it fit. At the same time I avoid going too far with that. It's good to allow room to adjust things later.

    As far as gain structure, I have a standardized method which I follow somewhat loosely. It's simply tracking average levels at -18dBFS (or -12dBFS-ish peaks for percussive sounds) and keeping my average mix level at -18dBFS. Other than staying well away from clipping I don't obsess about it, and if something is off the target but sounds good I'll just grab clip gain and make it right. Of course specific preamps have their analog sweet spots which I'll try to utilize, but most of my work is through a console so that's not as relevant.

    Given the multi-use nature of the studio (rehearsal/recording/performance) I've streamlined the headphone mixing. It's the same as the control room mix, though not subject to soloing. That keeps me focused on the performer's needs.

    I'm quite capable of getting used to things that should be fixed while also spending hours on things that were fine to begin with.
     
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    That you are.
     
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

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    Do you not notice the subtle changes that can occur regardless of the "keeping my average ITB mix level at -18dBFS"? I mean, I notice a pretty significant change in ( tonalities) when particular analog products are moved outside their sweet spots and I have to go back and re adjust them to a mix that is now louder or softer due to changed from where the main Vox started out at prior to mixing as you build a song. Sure you can simply grab the dial and move the thing... but thats not really where I am going here.

    As an example to what I hear. If I am tracking using a combination of example, LA2A with a particular preamp and EQ, have the group in their sweet spots, capture that, then later down a mix when it is lets say, processed to a point the input level needs to be re-adjusted to do a vocal "retake", hmmm... capable or not... this isn't always a favorable move when looking back and thinking... hmm, maybe I shouldn't have started mixing this so soon. That is what I am talking about here...
    I have a inner voice saying to me... which has nothing to do with being capable.... I shouldn't have ^#$%ed with vocal tracks, prematurely srated mixing this when I have match overdubs.

    How do you deal with that? Or would you say, this is unique to me being incapable and its as simple as adjusting your gain to keep you average mix level at -18dBFS?

    And in my sarcasm and shop humor... I am also being respectful and just curious if this is anything you or the other members ever concern yourself with, hear it or?

    Its why I usually don't mix until it time to put the tracking gear to rest. :)
     
  20. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    Simple solution, poverty. I have no access to real LA2As and all the preamps and eqs (in that studio) are M-2600 MkII channels. If the preamps in that board aren't especially interesting at least they're forgiving. Anything in the vicinity of 0dBVU sounds about the same and it doesn't clip until +24dBVU. Honestly, in the rush of tracking (hobby band, limited time to devote) it's the best compromise. If I had to sort through preamps and find a small sweet spot we'd never get anything done, and/or I'd screw it up.

    Well, there's a Solo 610 that I break out when appropriate, and then what you say hits pretty hard. You can't just fix that after the fact because it is so responsive to levels.

    Same thing at the "other" studio that uses a variety of preamps (Daking, Grace 101, V72 etc.) into an Apollo 16. In fact a recent vocal session spanned two days, and the solution was to leave the mic, goboes and Daking preamp/eq untouched. With that kind of gear I do gravitate toward your method. I guess that means, yes, I hear what you're describing.

    So, really, I'm flexible. Depending on the gear and the musical style I may go either way, mix while tracking (and start over when tracking is done) or leave it untouched (other than level and pan).
     
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