Mixing Technique: Mixing In Reverse...?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by MeTheAudioPhile, May 30, 2004.

  1. Hello, all.

    I'm currently a student at a recording tech school, and last night as I was waiting to get into a lab, I overheard a lab instructor talking about a mixing technique he's been experimenting with. He was explaining how he will flip the tape so that the song plays in reverse, which pshychoacoustically makes his brain focus on the envelope of the sounds, rather than the transients. Then, he said, once he's got the mix sounding great in reverse, he'll flip the tape again, leaving him with a nice punchy mix.

    Obviously, this technique could be very dangerous and I'm sure it's not an easy thing to listen to for hours, but I was just curious if anyone else here has ever tried this technique and if so, what are your thoughts on it.
  2. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    Well, i can say this. I am an artist, and I remember in art school (my first drawing class), we were drawing from photos upside down. My teacher said that by forcing your brain to disregard the object and just to draw shapes and blocks of color, you would be able to pick up on subleties that you would otherwise miss. It really worked.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I think your instructor has spent one too many days at "Red Man". Too many 'shrooms ... Stories like this only reinforce my feelings that there are too many recording schools with too many recording instructors who really don't know wtf they are doing ... this sh*t is not rocket science. It's really not as difficult as some seem to think ... talent, good gear, good listening envornment ... get it in performance and capture with chops, mic and pre choice and placment.

    If you are resorting to things like the technique discribed, you are already in deep crap ... Do as little to the audio as possible ... none of this gear (even the best of it) really makes audio sound better ... it only makes it different and each step of processing (digital or analog) will degrade the quality a bit ...

    I used to take interns from 3 or 4 different recording programs and out of well over a dozen, I can only think of two that actually were prepared to come in and run a session. The rest I had to try to teach myself .. (and I'm wondering why I didn't get the $10K check)

    A couple were just plain horrible and I had to send them away...

    Kurt Foster
  4. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    He was saying that knowing some of the students were listening......instructors do that sometimes. It's rather humerous if you think about it. Like messing with interns....

    What school, Full Sail Or Artie?
  5. Full Sail.

    I don't think that he was out to get any of us. He may have been an idiot, who knows, but I heard what I heard and it intrigued me. I just wanted to post what I had heard to see if there was anyone else who knew anything about it. That's all.

    Cedar - As for there being too many recording schools with too many instructors who don't know what they're doing, I tend to agree with you. In my opinion, I've been a bit disappointed with many things at this school, which I could talk about now, but I'll save that discussion for later. This is the way I see it, though: I'm twenty years old, and I've known since I was in grade school that I loved audio, and that I'd never be happy doing anything else for a career. After a year of treading water at a University, I made the descision to make the move to a recording school. I looked at many different schools and chose the one that was right for me. I knew coming here that I was going to be putting up with a good deal of crap, but I knew that the resources that would be available to me far outweighed the negative things I'd have to deal with.

    Honestly, I know that I've got a lot to learn. That's why I'm here, and don't get me wrong, I'm learning a TON. There's a lot of really knowledgable people here. But, I also know that I'm not going to learn everything while I'm here. The real learning isn't going to begin until I get out in the industry. And I can't wait. I'm laying a foundation, upon which I'll continue to build each day, forever.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Well at least you chose a good school with a good reputation. Full Sail is one of the bests there is ... now it's really up to you what you do with it, as it is with most recording schools. I have seen people do very well in that type of learning environment. I actually attended a recording school myself once, just to formalize my education and to have a chance to ask questions and get the answers to a list of specific questions.

    If you love what you are doing and you pay attention, you will do well. Good luck. BTW, the more I think about it, the more I think the instructor may have been seeing who was paying attention and who wasn't. I can see him in the teachers lounge, laughing and saying to his colleagues, "Guess what what I told them today ..... " tee hee hee hee hee
  7. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    Full Sail's a great school. I went there and don't regret a min of it. Do you remember which instructor it was?

    Cedar gave some great advice.....keep up the good work...it's worth it.
  8. Sen

    Sen Guest

    I think your lab instructor has recently read the "Mixing With Your Mind" book by Mick Stavrou. Please if you see him, ask him if he has and post the answer here :wink:
  9. Randy- unfortunately, I do not know his name. He's an instructor for another lab that takes place pretty close to were mine does. I just happened to overhear what he was the saying the other night. But, when I get to his class, I'll be sure to find out - ha. Also, I appreciate your encouraging words about Full Sail.
  10. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    so many times college instructors are so full of themselves and will say asinine things to impress their students... on the other hand, the man could be absolutely brilliant and we are missing something... naw, I don't think so- I am definitely not mixing in reverse!
  11. gdoube

    gdoube Guest

    If he was serious, he would have mentioned that you would have to reassign the channels on the desk.

    The only way that this could possibly work is if you were really familiar with how lots of great mixes sounded backwards. In which case, you may as well get familiar with them regular-wise.
  12. Chance

    Chance Guest

    Personally, I really think that his dip-stick isn't quite touching oil !
    Speaking about schools, does anyone know what ever happened to the RIA ( recording institute of america ) ? Back in the 80's I used to co-teach a class in my studio that was put on by the RIA.
  13. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    So you've done this before?
  14. gdoube

    gdoube Guest

    no way! but it stands to reason...
  15. EricK

    EricK Guest

    No, I haven't done this before either. That is the first thing that popped in to my mind when I read the original post though. Yes, it sounds interesting, maybe. The point is to try to get you to listen from a different perspective. Perspective is really what mixing is about, and it is far to easy to get tunnel vision. You need to learn to steer clear of the tunnel. Personally, I don't think mixing in reverse is worth any effort.
  16. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    Frequent ears breaks, such as game of pool, dinner or a walk will help with this. After the break you'll notice more things in the first half-minute than you would have in the next hour of mixing, had you continued to mix without a break (if you were lucky).
  17. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :D Reminds me of the salesman at the audio gear shop, "Ya just godda get that kick drum soundin right, then yer home free".

  18. bubblegum

    bubblegum Guest

    I don't get it when people just say categorically, "That's wrong".

    I've never mixed in reverse and probably won't, but I will not judge it until I've heard it and even then it's just my opinion (as is this post).

    The point is not the actual mixing in reverse, but approaching something from a new angle.

    It's very restricting for people to "Do it this way 'cos that's how it's done" or "that's how the Beatles did it" In actual fact that is exactly the type of experimenting I would have expected from them at some point whether it worked or not.

    Mixing in reverse probably won't improve the mix on a sonic level, but may enable certain aspects of a performance to be pulled to the fore when they would otherwise have gone unnoticed, or maybe not, who knows?

    The point is that this is art.... If you want to make a day to day living as an engineer then forget experimental ideas like that. If you want to create art and push the envelope, try it.

    Nothing is fixed. Once we fix something, it becomes crusty, familiar and automated.

    Everyone's methods and opinions on this thread are valid, I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with anyone. I just want to point out that there is a distinction between "mixing in reverse" in a practical sense and "mixing in reverse" as in coming from somewhere other than you do every day, sometimes without even being aware of it.

    Try telling Picasso "That's not how to paint a human face, you have no idea what you are doing"

    Isn't the point of art, NOT to know what you are doing, just expressing creative energy?

    I agree that technical aspects of mixing, like gain structure, signal flow etc. have rules and that is the structure from which creative mixing ideas can grow.

    Long live people who question the way things are done, even the way they themselves do it!
  19. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :D BG, I'm sorry for the pun I made, I remember half speed mastering, pitch control and how it introduced many other effects. I would reverse edit to "rock the tape" and clean up tails with R to R, or recording a track at 2x speed to get extended LF. I read upside down as well as rightside up. I don't question there is something to be found with the practice. Adding a few tracks recorded in reverse is a cool effect too! So, please don't think we are so close minded not to have understood the meaning.

  20. Chance

    Chance Guest

    OK I guess there's nothing wrong with mixing in reverse, that is, if you are going to be listening or broadcasting, or having a DJ play it in reverse.
    All of the artists painted their pictures to be viewed the way everyone views in their own taste.
    For those few who like listening to a project in reverse (?) I guess it's only logical to mix in reverse

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