project tracked , now you mix !!!

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by MicrophoneMan, Aug 20, 2001.

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  1. MicrophoneMan

    MicrophoneMan Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    thats the scenario - band was in, engineer and producer tracked the songs, did their overdubs, pack up the tape/drives - and call you in to mix the album at another house.

    I know this is how it goes for some, perhaps our moderator, perhaps not. Anyways, as a younger cat who is still trying to learn the art, and make a name for myself thru my work - I am still mostly doing smaller projects where I either do the whole thing, or just assist in the engineering. By no means do I get calls to come in and mix something.

    In my method of thinking about how I put together a song to tape, and then put the pieces in the right spots, and then blend them together - I find the tracking and overdubs essential to getting the final vision. I've taken it to myself at times to mix the demo's that come along with say a hdr-2496, or a mix+ rig, and it's a mind blowing experience. For one, you don't know what was going on in the tracking, what they were going for, or why? Also, for parts that may drop or sweep in to convey an emotional effect, how are you to know. I do understand that the "producer" would be there to point these things out to a degree, yet when mixing something - I would like to have gotten the sounds needed for the feel needed in the end.

    this question is for those of you who mix predominatly - or better yet mix stuff where you may not have been present on the tracking sessions. I don't want to come off sounding like a control freak needing to participate in every stage of the recording, yet at my young age in this field - I find mixing things I did not record a much larger challenge.

    perhaps I am not conveying my thoughts perfectly, yet I hope some of you know what I mean.

    I'm basically looking to hear from someone - "I listen to the rough mix a couple times, and have the "producer" point things out to me as I make sugestions", or "I take the roughs home and get piss drunk, try to dance/feel the song - and take notes on what could be done to change emotion" or "I take the roughs in my car with the "producer" and try to get a feel, along with make comments and mental notes"

    anyone - what are your methods of getting into and mixing someone else's labor?
  2. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    Great post. I'll tell you a little secret, When you get to a certain point in your mix career, the kind of stuff you get is already pretty decently recorded. Most of the decisions are made. You just have to make it rock. This is not always the case, but I seldom get something with 100 tracks in a DAW that no one can make a decision on. It's one of the ironies of life, that after paying your dues for whatever amount of time, recording and mixing stuff with inexperienced producers and artists, that the best stuff is frequently easy to make sound good.
    Any opinions on my rambling?
  3. MicrophoneMan

    MicrophoneMan Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    sure thing McSnare - that sure makes sense to me, and is the reason why I like to be part of the tracking.

    I look forward to the day where I can deal with a communtiy of people who excel at this in a life-pursuit kind of way.

    right now I have a few obstacles in my mix career.

    one - I live in CT, not too far away from NYC or Boston, but not enough of a scene to really expand my horizons

    two - I am reaching the stage in life when one is sober of all sorts for more than a week, he starts to worry about income security down the line, and if he should listen to the smarter half of the brain, go back to school, and do this $*^t in the wee hours of the night for fun.

    three - I am not working in a studio / mixing / etc full time, I work for a corporate bitch of an audio retail company (you can do the math) - which I try to use to my advatage to learn the newest technology and rape the discount abilities.

    four - all of the local eleders in my scene talk $*^t about each other, yet are all buddies when they are face to face. As a local retailer - I seem to be the guy that everyone likes to vent to about the other studios and why they are laim. Someone please tell me that you are not the big fish in a small pond that likes to put down the newcomers in the scene, and that you badmouth digital gear mainly because you just havent taken the time to learn about it, and badmouthing it is an easy way out.

    with all the above in the equation - its very hard for one to try to find those who have a good ear and heart to work with, and learn/share the craft with - and have fun with! I may be taking longer to further my mixing career this way, yet I feel that in the long run I am in a personal sorts of training that will only help me in the long run

    now McSnare - that is a crazy ramble - make any sense out of that?
  4. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    My man, I like your style. You, my friend are the perfect example of someone that clearly loves music and recording it. I wish there was more guys out there like you. Don't let the local BS get you down. It's an easy trap to fall in to. Sure, you know more than those guys, but proving it won't get you any points. Stick to your guns, work on stuff that you love, and don't compromise. Simplistic? Maybe, but it's worked for me.
  5. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Microphoneman, thanks for the post. I think this is a great question. And I think you have a great name, with allot of flair, and pinache.

    I mix other peoples tracks all the time. Sometimes the tracks are great, and for the most part, McSnare is right, there is a certain irony to the fact that you get the shitty tracks when you're learning, and the great tracks when you're accomplished.

    What I find is that the most important part of mixing someone else's tracks is the arrangement. When I get tracks, I really learn the song, and try to figure out if there are instruments that don't belong, or that don't make sense for the arrangement.

    This particular process should be no different than if you were the tracking engineer as well. Unfortunately, the tracking engineer already has certain biasis, and is married to certain things. A mixer for hire, has no biasis, and can more easily look at the instrumentation and make decisions.

    This does not mean it's always better to have an outside mixer. But there are some definite advantages, to go along with the disadvantages.

    I find that when I'm mixing a track I've never heard before, it unfolds like a story, and I can get insight into what people were thinking when they recorded something. I can hear tangents, and left turns in a production, and weed out where things got a bit confused from oversaturation.

    Basically, you need to approach the mix as a new entity, and a new arrangement, given a finite amount of options. If something works, use it. if it doesn't, don't. Most importantly, really undestand why you think something does or doesn't work. Because you're going to have to explain sooner or later why you cut that bassoon track.

    I may have more on this subject later, after some others have a chance to pipe in on their experiences.

  6. Tymish

    Tymish Guest

    The times I've mixed something I haven't tracked were a lot of fun in some ways. One thing was that I had no preconcieved notions. It was fresh, I like the unfolding story analogy. When you've heard a song or parts of one 10 - 500 times in overdubbing you might lose the excitment. I also didn't have foreknowledge of something I did tracking that I may second guess while mixing. That's a problem I run into now performing, recording, mixing and mastering my tunes. I wear so many hats and get so anal that I can lose sight of the song and the enjoyment of working on it.

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