What's normal amount of time to spend mixing a song?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by spoke, Aug 25, 2005.

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  1. spoke

    spoke Guest

    Assuming that comping and most garbage cleanup is already done, is a full day a standard amount of time to spend mixing a song?

    How long does a normal pro engineer spend mixing a song?
  2. johnwy

    johnwy Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    Smithtown, NY
    Home Page:
    Lately I have been averaging about 6 to 8 hours a song. Even when all the clean up is done before hand, there always something that was missed, or needs to be added, or recut due to one reason or another, like a singer getting insecure over a performance and wants to recut the lead vocal track. Sometimes you lose time experimenting on sounds and such that just wind up getting trashed.

    If you are mixing 'in the box' (or on a digital console for that matter) you are pretty much mixing as you go, so it should be even shorter because the mix comes back when you open the session. Because I mix primarily on an old SSL, it takes a little more time to reset the desk and outboard if I had recalls and outboard documentation of the work mixes, which doesn't always happen.

    I've mixed songs in 2 hours and taken as long as 2 days to do a mix. I have mixed a 12 song demo in less than three days. I have also tracked and mixed a song in about 6 1/2 hours. I have seen and heard of engineers taking a week to mix a song (yes, a week). For one song
  3. twenty5south

    twenty5south Guest

    Until its right....... whether that be 20 minutes or 3 weeks. dont try and set a specific amount of time. When its done you'll know its done. at least thats my look on it.

  4. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    ive recorded a song that litleraly need three tracks panned. the song had pre recorded drums, but i did lead and rythm vox, bakcup and solos. amount of time to do the mix about 2 listens. then it took about a dozen more to make sure one other systems. and once ive spent 2 days (this was back when all i had where headphones) on a mix to take it to another source where it sucked, and i set every thing to 0 and started over with the mix. now its one of my favorite tracks that never made it to the album.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Good answer.

    There are so many possibilities when "mixing" a song. I'm assuming you are literally speaking of mixing and not the tracking process as well??

    See - many times, while mixing, I'll find (or the producer will find) things that need to be done. Add effects, retrack a phrase, double vocals, redo MIDI, overlay soundeffects, etc. This can be a long and arduous process and shouldn't be skimped on.

    However, if you're tracking "live" or as a single take kind of deal - there's not as much to do. For shows when I record "live" and then I mix the next day, I can usually pound out 8-10 songs in a day's work. Now, that's also taking into consideration that sound quality of this type of recording is not as high as tracked sessions.

  6. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    2 hours for a hiphop tune to weeks (i heard) for a britney song!

    i think the best mixes i did took two days per song..... including putting all tracks to two inch first
  7. twenty5south

    twenty5south Guest

    Where did this information come from?...... im a hip hop/rap producer/mixer and that may be the case in some instances but not always.... ive spent days even a couple weeks mixing and tweaking a song, i may just listen and make notes and slight changes, then leave it for days, then come back and listen and mix somemore..... then there are instances where a song only needs a few minutes or a few hours worth of mixing.....it all depends on the song! Remember the are no rules!

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    It also depends on what drugs and alcohol are involved.

    With Crystal Meth, Cocaine or Heroin - I can mix a complete album in about 6 minutes.

    With vodka, beer, pot, queludes, and demoral, it takes me months to finish the first fade.... :shock:
  9. If the deadlines aren't there, I take as long as it takes to get it perfect. Typically, though, I'll ask that 8-10 weeks be allowed between tracking and a final mix. That gives me plenty of time to mix, take about a week off to forget about it, then come back and do it again. Sometimes, I'll take a week off two or three times. If I don't have a smile on the first listen after some time off, that's when I mix and repeat as desired.

    I did do a song on the first listen once...
  10. sushifish

    sushifish Guest

    It's all about listing to your mix on many different stereos. ( I like stereo's I'm already familiar with, home, car, office, friends house, etc..) I believe this is more important than using your studio monitors alone. I'll usually will make changes about 3 times after I think it's close when working on studio monitors first.
    Hope this makes sense...
  11. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    it came from me.....

    i mixed for a living for 5 years.... and did some hiphop tunes in 2-4 hours...

    it was simple songs with basically only drums/sample/rap

    if you use weeks you too anal about mixes.... you have to let it go at some time.... and if you're pro it wouldn't take that long anyway.... but i must admit that some of the mixes i'm NOT proud of are those where i couldn't come back the next day and listen with "clean" ears....
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I don't know guys - there's some generalizations being made here that I can't see backing up with a lot of real world experience. (Not to say you's guy's don't have it - cuz I know you do) but perhaps you're referring to the process where, you get familiar enough with a genre or recording technique that you can go through the motions as an automaton, but I tell you truthfully, there is no way to quantify the amount of time needed to mix a project. They are all different. ALL.

    I've had classical projects that take me months to mix (and they should be a tad easier for the most part) just because I couldn't get EXACTLY the sound I was looking for. I've had rock tunes that just GEL and I get em done in an hour or so.

    The important things are:

    1. Don't turn off your creative juices while mixing. The art of mixing is not just getting levels and f/x sends at the right level. You've got to listen critically to the musical elements of the piece with a producer's ears too and see if there are any elements which could enhance/improve your disc in the mixing process.

    2. Always get fresh ears. Either your ears after a good night's sleep or a trusted producer/co-engineer.

    3. Test it on multiple systems. I disagree that this is more important than your main monitors, but it is helpful sometimes. If your monitors are good and your room is good, you should be able to trust what you hear. If you can't and it sounds great in your studio but awful somewhere else - evaluate. Are my monitors (or room) at fault, or is this just a crappy alternate system?.

    4. Don't let time frames dictate creativity. (The true, but unfortunate reality is that it's usually budget constraints that dictate creativity, not time...)

    Okay, okay, okay - I'll shut up now.

    BTW - in case the FBI or DEA was monitoring my last post.............................................................................
    Just kidding :wink:

  13. LOL! Drugs are part of music. How many songs have survived as hits for 20, 30, or even 40 years without being written while high or on a trip?

    Anyway, on a more serious note...

    Just because it takes weeks or months to do a mix doesn't mean you're too anal about it. I won't put my name on anything unless I'm happy with it. That's why I ask for 8-10 weeks for mixing. I know that is ample time to get something I am happy with. Mixing is an art. There is no set method to it. If you let your mixing become automatic, that's exactly how your mixes will sound — automatic.

    I have one song... a song... that has taken me 6 months so far. It's one that I wrote and it has so much meaning to the person who commissioned me to write it. They told me take as long as I need so that I can be creative and put my heart into it. I get to mixing and decide that I want to track something else, or I want to track something a different way.

    Mixing is an art in itself; don't lose hold of that.
  14. twenty5south

    twenty5south Guest

    I think the key words in your statement is "some" & "simple"......some simple mixes maybe, but not all.

    You may be right, but in the end i know they sound good......and im not talking about mixing for weeks straight...... take a couple days off then come back....reapeat if nesc.

  15. sushifish

    sushifish Guest

    You're right, I think it just came out wrong.

    I believe testing on multiple systems is a great way to evaluate your room and monitors though. I think even with a crappy system, your mixes can come out great depending on how well you understand "your sysytem" and how it's going to transfer.
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    The one basic problem with this question is the reference to "normal" pro engineer. Ehhhhhhh.......er.rrrrrrrr.......

    there arent any.

    I spend ten to thirty minutes on every song whether I like em or not. If I havent already gotten a clue from the tracking then its gonna be overtime and SOMEONES GONNA PAY.

    no really......i'm serious.....

    course........if its my stuff......it takes all my waking hours and i obsess till i'm idiotic and have veins in my eyes popping out and then......i send it to someone else....with notes of course.....

    Now prepping something for distribution is a bit different.

    It takes time to get all the noises out. And to wring the tracking engineers neck..........".....they did what?????"...
  17. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Home Page:
    For most typical rock tracks, which include 7-12 drum tracks, 3-9 guitars, 1-2 bass, 1-4 vocals (not including multiple takes) it takes me on the average 5 hours to actually mix (not editing) and about 1-2 hours to edit. I've wrapped up songs in 5 hours, and have taken as long before as 14 hours. I think anything much past 8 hours can be beneficial, but the song is definitely getting into 'picky' territory. A song can be under, as well as overmixed IMO.
  18. chris_carter

    chris_carter Guest

    Generally speaking, I usually try to have 8 hours left for mixing after I do all my editing. At this point I usually have a VERY basic rough mix - usually music is decent and the vocals horrible. Then I mix for about 6 hours, and then the final two are for printing and archiving and generating masters. I usually have about two hours flexibility to go over if I need it. Typically I try and plan 3 days to get it all done, including editing. On day 1 I edit and get a good rough going. The next day I mix until I basically can't get it sounding any better. Then I sleep on it and the following day I just tweak whatever is still wrong, print a mix, check it on different systems, make any tweaks systematically and repeat that process anyhwere from 0 to several times until I'm confident about it. Then I print all the different versions (album, radio, inst, a capella, tv, etc.), archive, and generate masters. Often it really only takes 2, but I plan for 3. I am almost always mixing stuff I produced and engineered so everything is pretty solid, but if I were mixing stuff that was poorly arranged or poorly tracked etc., then I imagine it would take a lot longer because I'd have to "fix it in the mix" so to speak, which you can only do so much with.
  19. axel

    axel Guest

    amount of time: from... to... really, depending also on what the given situation from the client (e.g. deadline) is.

    only rule of thumb i have for myself is to listen to it the next day in the morning with "fresh" ears, specially after long sessions, you can get lost in a mix after several hours tweaking...

    every mix / song requires different things / work, and that means time as well.

    and brian, i 2nd that most disposible music is "drugfree" :D
  20. idiophone

    idiophone Guest

    For me:

    If they can play, and it was engineered well - three hours/song

    If they can play, and it was engineered poorly - day/song

    If they can't play, but it was engineered well - six to eight hours/song.

    If they can't play, and it was engineered poorly - just know when to quit, and turn 'em down next time.


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