The last few hours of a mix

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by DonnyThompson, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    This is a spin-off thread from Mixing Grunge in the 21st Century, I didn't want to hijack the OP's original thread regarding critique for his song. We were starting to move into other areas, so I decided to continue the discussion here. I've started out by replying to the last post by audiokid, where he is discussing the final stages of a mix.


    I can hear and feel it now, since I treated my room. I used to add HPF much higher in the frequency range than I do now, because my room was a smeared mess of low-end and low-mid freqs.

    Now I'm hearing a far more accurate representation of what the low end is doing. My room is "tighter" in the lower end. I've actually got a bit more low end, but now it's far more defined, and not a smeared and skewed mess.

    audiokid said:
    "The last hours of a mix is where I suffer defeat. I keep thinking I will find a way and it pains me. I'm almost at a point in life where I can't take it anymore. Some days I wish I didn't choose sound. This business has taken away the magic enjoyment, the innocence of just listening to music and being content."

    The last few hours of a mix are the hardest for me as well. It's those last few small, incremental changes that can make or break a mix. The problem is that by the time I get to those last few changes, I've usually lost objectivity and I'm pretty burnt out. I'm finding that the least amount of time I can spend generally turns out better mixes on the whole, but, I'm a perfectionist and I'll keep going until I get it right.

    I think the pros get it done better faster, because they have the gear that helps them to get it done faster. There's far less "repair" in their mixes, and a lot more actual mixing and enhancement. Small, subtle nuances add up to really nice sonics when you have the best gear available at your fingertips... whether it's Pre's, EQ, GR, Reverb, or just having great sounding and fantastically performed tracks in a room that helps you and doesn't hurt you, they can get the job done better and in less time because they have the best tools to use.

    And of course, these pro facilities are the ultimate in acoustics. These cats aren't having to be concerned with whether or not the low or low mid freqs in the mixing room are false or hyped. In most cases, these pro facilities have been built from the ground up, or at the very least, re-built to tight tolerances with audio recording and mixing in mind.

    I lost the ability to simply listen to music for enjoyment of it years ago. I cannot hear a song anymore and just listen to the song. I immediately start to separate the tracks in my head and listen to individual parts of the mix.
    "Is the snare sitting in a good place? I wonder what kind of mic they used on the vocals? There's some tube coloration there, I think.."

    It's been years since I've been able to listen to a song for the simple enjoyment of it.

    IMHO of course.

    audiokid likes this.
  2. CrazyLuke

    CrazyLuke Active Member

    May 5, 2014
    A great mix comes out of the three "T"s - Time, Talent, and Tools
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    Agreed, although it helps to have tracks that sound great to begin with.

    So many times, in my travels as a hired gun engineer - mostly mixing - I run into tracks that were recorded poorly. Basements, bedrooms and any number of spaces where there are a myriad of issues, not to mention the performer(s) doing half-assed takes and calling them keepers... the result is that these become repair sessions than mix sessions, and for anyone who has ever done both, you'll know the difference between the two.

    There's always going to be some element of "repair" to any mix - after all, when we tweak EQ, compress or correct pitch, technically, those things fall under the category of repair. I guess it's the extent of which makes the difference to me, and if I find myself having to make dramatic changes, then it's because the proper amount of attention wasn't placed on the tracking of the song to begin with.

    I recall several sessions where the talent was so great, and the recording techniques used were so good, that when it came time to mix, I ended up having to do very little adjustment - it was pretty much just adjusting balances, and it was done. Yet, there are some songs that take hours, even days to get right, and that's when you start to face the inevitable burn-out and loss of objectivity.

    To be truthful, I've dealt with this on my own mixes as well, so I'm not pointing fingers at anyone specific here.

    My big issue right now is to determine which mixes I can trust to be accurate or not. After recent acoustic treatments/improvements to my mixing space, it's almost as if I'm having to re-learn my mix technique.
    I'm hearing far more definition in the low end, and am hearing much more accuracy in imaging, depth and space.... while for so long previous to these improvements, I was dealing with skewed and smeared frequencies - on all levels - that an untreated room can present.

    As a final test, I'm sending various mixes out to people who's ears I trust - and who also listen in an environment that is acoustically good - to analyze them for me; I want to know if they are hearing the same accuracy as I am. So far I've heard from Chris (audiokid) who has informed me that I am very close.

    we'll see what the other cats say... ;)

  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    Exactly! Talent aside... thats a given. (y)

    Sound is everything. Anyone that has plays live knows if your PA sucks, you suck and the audience thinks its you, not the PA or the mix. All you need to do to is experience this once and you will never forget it. Go into a room with a crap PA, then return 3 months later with a new and improved system, better bass.... and the audience that heard you before will without question think you are way better now, meaning talent. When, really all it was , was better sound. That is a fact I have experienced many many times and why I am now a mixer who loves and knows the power of great gear that captures and allows a mix to come through at its best to begin with.

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