Need to practice mixing

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by therecordingart, Sep 1, 2004.

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  1. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    I don't work on a whole lot of projects as I'm just beginning my journey into the realm of audio. I'd like to practice mixing as much as I can. Does anyone have any projects sitting around that I can mess around with? I'd trade with anyone, and whatever I do won't leave my don't worry about copyright infringement.

    Anyone interested?
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    You would be much better off learning to track first. Mixing is the "glamor" part of recording but it really should begin with the tracking stage.

    When there were only mono and 2 , 3 and 4 track machines available, people had to know how to pre mix while recording.

    I remember reading somewhere once, where someone was saying how alarmed they were at how fast bounces were done at a Beatles recording session they had attended. At Abbey Road, EMI had a progression people had to go through to become what they termed as a "balance engineer" ... first you were a tape machine operator (this was before remote controls) where you watched and learned how the sessions went down and how to manage gain, then you went to the mastering room for a stint to learn what could and couldn't be transferred to vinyl .... after you had learned that, you would be allowed to start as a balance engineer ...

    By first learning the tracking side of things, you will learn to make decisions while you record, instead of doing it the way some are going to these days, just recording everything "flat" with no dynamics processing and leaving all the decisions until mix. While it is great to have options open to you, this fosters a lack of "vision" before the actual recording takes place ... and what you end up doing is recording until a mistake that sounds good happens. It also closes off opportunities to take the sound further by applying eq and compression at various stages of the recording and mixing process.

    This is why I think these "tracks for mixing" discs are actually pretty silly. Everyone is looking for the short cuts instead of learning all the mundane background stuff ... and the records are suffering for it ..
  3. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Central Copenhagen
    And after that good piece of advice, you might want to check out
  4. rvdsm

    rvdsm Guest

    Please tell me that you don't really think people track "flat" because they don't have "vision".

    You can't be serious? Not printing dynamics and equalization hinders your ability to "take it further" during mixdown?

    Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you.
  5. EricK

    EricK Guest


    While I agree with your comments, I do have to take issue with your opinion that "these tracks for mixing discs are actually pretty silly". You state, and I agree, that it is important to first learn the tracking side of things. I am of the opinion that getting to listen to the way someone else cuts tracks may very well be handy in learning how to cut tracks yourself. This would be another benefit of a "tracks for mixing CD".

    Not everyone has access to the array of equipment and talent that is required to track a band. It's one thing to get some software on your computer that allows you to record and mix, but it can get expensive fast when you have to buy a bunch of mics and pre's to track a band. Some folks out there just don't have the ability to cut tracks on their own, but they would like to try their hand at mixing.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Not all the time but I do think it can be indicative ... When I record I use more often that not , eq and dynamics ... because I already have a plan, an idea where I am going to take things. I know how I want things to sit in a mix because I have EXPERIENCE ... It all begins in the tracking stage ... To start mixing before you know how to track is putting the cart before the horse.

    You are not misunderstanding me ... Especially with compression, by applying some at tracking and then more at mix, I have found that I can get a sound that I cannot achieve by simply adding compression at mix alone. As far as eq, I can get a kick drum tone by adding eq at both stages that I cannot get close to by adding eq only at mix ... if you have ever done this, you know what I am speaking of ... and if you haven't tried it, you shouldn't knock it until you do ...

    I understand you position. As the purveyor of "Raw Tracks", it is understandable that you would feel that way ... I question "why?", if someone doesn't have a band or the talent (their own or access to others) to track basics, they are recording in the first place. My personal belief is that the song / talent comes first in the equation ... When I first became interested in recording technology in the 60's ... (when I was a little kid) the reason was because I wanted to record first, my own performances and then latter, my own songs.

    I firmly believe that someone who is not musically inclined really has no business whatsoever in the recording industry. IMO this mindset is a lot of what is wrong with it right now. People that really have no talent or ability invading the provence of those who do. This is the "music business" not the "recording business".
  7. dymaxian

    dymaxian Guest

    I think the spirit of what Kurt wrote is this...

    Mixing really shouldn't be separated from tracking. You should learn to do both, at the same time, and learn how each one affects the other. You'll get better at both of them.

    TheRecordingArt - don't worry so much about practicing mixing alone. Record stuff, even if it's just you playing old Judas Priest songs. Who cares what you play, or if anyone else ever hears it? Just practice making it sound good. Once you've been thru the process a few times, you'll have a better understanding of what all is going on. Taking someone else's "practice mixing" tracks and putting them together can be fun, but that will mostly amount to getting better at fixing problems with the tracking. If you do the tracking yourself, you'll know precisely why everything sounds the way it does in the mixdown.

    Hope this helps...

  8. rvdsm

    rvdsm Guest

    I don't mean to be rude, but isn't it a little naive to assume those who don't steer the tracking session in the direction of their preliminary "vision" as not experienced?

    Okay, you're a band. You just saved up a couple grand to go into the studio. You're psyched about being there and have a lot of ideas bubbling around in your head about how you want the album to sound. Would you appreciate it if the engineer came up with his own "vision" and applied it to your master copy so no matter what becomes of the rest of the session your "vision" must be realized or there is to be no album?

    I don't want to mistake you so I'm not saying that this example applies to you. I'm just trying to figure out what you mean by EXPERIENCE.
  9. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    I think you are missing Kurt's point. It's not the engineer imposing his will on the band but the engineer capturing the bands sound. In order to get that sound reqiures some sort of vision of the final product. In the late 70's and early 80's my band spent some time recording tracks for our upcoming album. The engineer came to see us perform live, took notes and even taped a few of the songs for later reference. When we went to the studio to start tracking he already had a plan of how to capture our sound. His vision led to a great sounding record. I think this is what Kurt is talking about.

    I'm just getting back into recording after 20 years away. I must admit I sometimes tweek the eq a little on the way to disk but mainly because I don't always find what I want with just mic placement. I always use very gentle compression on every track. I find it makes the actual mix go easier
  10. tomtom

    tomtom Guest

    All this discussion is quite interesting, but back to the recordingart's question:

    I don't know what DAW you're using, but Pro Tools has demo sessions you could play with. They come along with the installation software.
    If you work on something else, ask someone with PT to consolidate the tracks in the format you use. Import them in your system and you can start to play...

    Kurt makes a point about all these tracking/mixing issues. But I can remember being a student too and how much I learnt mixing pro tapes (if you could call it mixing at that time - zero experience, then). I would have loved to track then, but didn't have access to bands and the recording equipment. The whole process of recording and handling a session was a little terrorizing too. Instead, I learned with properly tracked material, because it was also less worries. When it sounded wrong, I knew I had made a wrong choice and could not blame the recording. I think I learned faster because mistakes were easyer to sort out. Then I started tracking and got into more trouble, but gained confidence little by little, by EXPERIENCE.

    Keep arguing, guys, this is very interesting to read people with different opinions.
  11. ddt

    ddt Guest

    Kurt, what is your viev of having different people involved in the recording and mixing process?

    Do you think it is best to have a single person in control so that he can fulfill his vision of the project, or do you think that the there is more benefit in having someone else doing the mixing, for example.

    The advantage of this, as I would see it, is that the person doing the mixing can approach the songs from a new perspective and perhaps explore new paths which would not otherwise seem obvoius.

  12. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    I didn't mean to start a war, and I do appreciate everything that is being said regardless if I agree or disagree. Every persons opinion counts in my book because in this field I don't believe there is one right way of doing things. The sciene behind audio in my opinion is the only fact, and the rest is a creative process learned by doing.

    I don't always have bands at my disposal since I am just getting my feet wet in the recording world. I do understand that you need to start tracking with a vision of the final product. Before I hit record I want the pieces of the song sound as close to the completed product as possible. I feel that adding too much in the mix kinda kills the tune...but thats just with my own minimal experience.

    The reason why I asked about mixing something someone else tracked is because I want to hear how other engineers tracks sound before it starts going through the editing/mixing process and to see if I can turn it into something respectable like they do. I do like what I track/mix, so do my clients, but I need to improve in a lot of ways before I can be taken seriously even in the local scene.

    You guys are a great help to me and I really do appreciate every comment left in my posts. Thank you very much!
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I have been involved in projects from both ends of that question, as a mixer only and as a tracking engineer only. If I had to be in one situation or the other, for the most part I would want to be the guy that was tracking only rather than the guy that had to clean up someone else's mess.

    Different tracking and mixing engineers is a pretty standard practice but I don't really think it is the best way to go. Still some guys prefer to only mix and won't do tracking sessions. If these guys are famous or in demand, they can usually convince the producer to do it so they only have to mix.

    As a musician and a producer, prefer to be in the studio with the band. I like being part of the process when the tracks are going down because I really think that what you record affects how you mix and ultimately, the final product ... garbage in / garbage out. This extends to arraignments of the music as well as mic choices, placement, mic pre, eq and compression choices.

    I don't think it is naive at all ... in the case that you are laying out, it's the band that would tend to be naive. Essentially, they are morons who really don't have a clue what is going to be good for them. Sure they have a "vision" and for the most part it is usually skewed .. and diverse. What the drummer wants will not be what the bass player wants and the guitar players will want something else. This "vision" will not be coherent within the band. This is why bands often need a producer ... and the recording engineer often winds up doing this for them, even though he or she may not be designated or paid for the job for the sake of expediency. The trick is to learn how to handle these situations without pissing the band off ... to learn to accommodate all the members of the band, in a way that each member feels as if you are listening to them over the others. Sometimes you can accomplish this other times it can be difficult.

    Meeting with the band, listening to performances and discussing their goals, trying to all of them on the same page and explaining to them why you are doing things the way you are .... building trust with them ... speaking to them in musical and artistic instead of technical terms like, "that's like a green sound in a sea of yellow", instead of "that really lacks focus and definition" ... stuff like that you cannot learn mixing by yourself all alone with tracks you have no idea what was used or how it was recorded.
  14. soundfreely

    soundfreely Guest

    It'd be nice if all that Kurt stated above wasn't true. Working on a smaller scale myself, I can't stand when people bring in garbage that was tracked inside a room that sounds they were in a trailer behind a truck speeding down the highway and expect some miracle to be made of it. I find I can sometimes make the mix tolerable, but who wants that??? ...wouldn't you prefer a great record as opposed to a tolerable one?

    On the other hand, I am often guilty of being indecisive during tracking. Though, this is usually when its stuff that is in the pre-production or writing phase. Sometimes, I keep those untouched and flat tracks in the final mix but I do know when it may be better to rerecord the stuff with a "vision" in mind. Otherwise, the track might need so much processing that it isn't worth the degradation.

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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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