1. #1
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    Default If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    The old saw is:

    "Mixes are never completed, they are *instead* simply abandoned in varying stages of incompletion".

    Or something like that.

    Anyhoo.

    I have so many thoughts on this subject.

    A topic which has clearly become(for better or worse) the centerpiece of my mortal coil for about a decade now.

    This is because, it was about a decade ago(almost to the day) that I decided there was nothing in record production which had so completely eluded me as mixing records. So being the dimbulb fukwit that I am, I decided to do pretty much NOTHING BUT mix records.

    I sorta did the same type of thing with switching from piano to drums at age 13... and look how well THAT turned out.

    ...

    Crash.

    We are, I suppose, doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again.

    The clever ones amongst us can call it "style" and get away with it.

    HOHOHO.

    In any event.

    Anybody got any thoughts on the subject?

    I'm all ears as I start another two week mix blowout with the metalheads.

    Wait...

    No...

    Maybe that's the problem!!!

    I'm NOT ALL EARS!

    I DO USE other bits to pour coffee into, and out of, the system!!!

    XOXOX

    Slippy
    Kill me. No really. Just fucking kill me.
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going completely crazy.

    I think you'd feel better if you record a couple of new installments.
    Seriously)))

    And you have assistants! so stop complaining
    I have to do all the prep myself.
    Recently sorted vocal tracks for some bright guys, who imagined it would be funny to create 2 vocal sessions, which both started at a different points, NONE of which sync'd with consolidated instrument tracks. Felt VERY clever when I found the way to accurately line up with instruments.

    How do you feel when you're mixing, say, an album?
    First mix is usually quite painful to me. I have to do a lot of prep work, and I'm usually a bit too exhausted to think of big picture.
    It's usually second or third mix when I'm feeling I'm actually mixing))
    Maybe I must create a template with basic effects, that would help to create mix faster.
    When in doubt, mumble!

    EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE SHIT IF YA LISTEN LONG AND HARD ENOUGH.
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going completely crazy.

    I sometimes have a hard time getting into the mix, finding that first "lead" that allows you to get a good frame going. Stephen King talks about "finding the hole in the paper" - I suppose I'm trying to find the hole in the console. Or something.

    Once I'm "in" I sometimes have a tendency to go on for far too long. And spend way too much time on silly little shenanigans that really mean fuck-all to how the average listener hears the song.

    And it's gotten WORSE with DAWs.

    One thing that SERIOUSLY slows down the process is having to do a ton of "prep work", like Melocogohohoho mentioned - I am inferring that he is talking about editing, sample replacement and organizing the tracks.

    That's where having a few minions around really pays off.

    In the end, I suppose I'm really trying to amuse myself and end up shooting myself in the foot half the time.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going completely crazy.

    I suppose I'm trying to find the hole in the console.
    I know how to find the hole in my console.

    It has my head in it.
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    I know I've said it before, but Roy Thomas Baker would say, at the end of a mix, "well that's one way to mix it!"

    and I think that's kind of brilliant.
    if you look at it that way, like it's just one way to look at it, it takes a whole lot of pointless pressure off.

    it doesn't have to be 'perfect'.
    Just satisfying for the way you feel about it NOW. Today. At this moment. Just like any other performance.
  6. #6
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    Man...maybe I'm a fuckwit...but the prepwork is where my mix STARTS...I do all my first-pass balances and mix arrangement editing in the prepwork...and that has some massive impact on down the line...even with stuff I've tracked. I tend to overtrack just a little bit and will find myself culling out doubles in spots and things of that ilk that go a long way toward "automating" the mix...and if I'm mixing someone else's tracking...that's really where I get the time to get familiar with the tracking and give stuff a glance in solo so I can hear what's going on with the tracks and see if there are any glaring issues (which I've run into a fair number of lately) like buzzes or clicks.

    Like I said...I could be a freak...but I find that the better my prep work and first balances are, the easier my mix comes together.
    One can kill people with many tools; the best assassins use the best and most appropriate tools to get the job done...

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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going completely crazy.

    One thing that SERIOUSLY slows down the process is having to do a ton of "prep work", like Melocogohohoho mentioned - I am inferring that he is talking about editing, sample replacement and organizing the tracks.
    Yeah, basically doing anything needed to get going.
    When in doubt, mumble!

    EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE SHIT IF YA LISTEN LONG AND HARD ENOUGH.
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    I know I've said it before, but Roy Thomas Baker would say, at the end of a mix, "well that's one way to mix it!"

    and I think that's kind of brilliant.
    if you look at it that way, like it's just one way to look at it, it takes a whole lot of pointless pressure off.

    it doesn't have to be 'perfect'.
    Just satisfying for the way you feel about it NOW. Today. At this moment. Just like any other performance.

    This is very true. But I think the problem for a lot of people is that they're REVISITING the mix repeatedly over a period of time, attempting to "improve" it - something I avoid like the plague, because it invariably leads to less inspired work. It may be different, but very rarely better.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    I've really screwed up some mixes by tearing them down post tracking and starting from fresh for the sake of the "mix phase". This, I suppose, is because you're deconstructing some sort of flow or magic that might have transpired during recording and the production.

    Maintaining a listeners naivety at that point can be quite a discipline.

    Cheers
    Originally Posted by Slipperman
    Deny everything and claim it's all "Haas-Moeller and Graffenfrimitz" MICING techniques and CAN'T be removed from the tracks without damaging the stereo field due to the "Von Stauffenberg Effect".
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    I agree.

    And this is because no mix is 'perfect'. By the time you've spent X hours engrossed in any audio project, you know every tiny little fucking nuance, and there will always be those that you didn't have time to fix/missed until you listen to it weeks later/couldn't be bothered with.

    There's always something.

    But the other thing that I believe is that as an AE, one is always improving one's chops. Thus, anything we do is worse than what we'll do next (this rule doesn't always stand, but as a general overview of one's career, you'd hope this is the path you would follow). There will always be something that pisses you off next time you listen.

    There's a vast number of other reasons why no mix is ever 'finished'.

    I've learned not to worry too much about it. As long as everyone is happy at the end of the day (bar yourself) and you're not losing business out of it, what's the point worrying? Just learn from the mistakes and move on.

    I'm in the happy position (haha) of having to revisit mixes on a semi-regular basis (I have the odd client who are actually willing to pay for revisions), so to an extent by the time that happens I at least have a chance to fix the FIRST bunch of things that piss me off about any given mix. With client material I try to leave it at that, or you just end up going around in ever decreasing circles until the net gain is closer to zero than a lighting engineer's IQ. I call it Iterative Mixing. You get gradually closer to 'perfect', until weeks later you realise that it can be too perfect and you should left the fucking faders alone.

    This happens regularly with my own band's stuff. There's no limit, and thus things just get remixed on a regular basis. Sometimes I'm glad. Other times I wish I'd left it the fuck alone. It's sometimes amazing how one fucking miniscule change can fuck the WHOLE song up.

    One caveat though: retracking, if you get the option and are certain of a better result, is ALWAYS worth doing (as long as someone pays for it).

    But then again, what the fuck do I know?
    I'm probably talking shit.

    "Mixing most 'heavy' records is like trying to find order and lucidity in a recording of a Cathedral Pipe Organ, all stops out, randomly veering between Handel's Messiah, Ginestera's 2nd and a coupla Bach Fugues, in a Titanium kitchenware foundry, while a gaggle of enraged PCP snorting gorillas with bullhorns conduct a demolition derby with cement mixers against the soothing cacophony of a nearby landslide/tsunami/heavy artillery exchange."- Slipperman
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    Kenny Gioia would jump on me and saay I want a time machine
    but still:

    I think that, just like when there is only ONE track available for the guitar solo people are forced to REALLY decide whether they need to do another one at the risk if ERASING the existing one, I think that when going back in and starting all over on a mix just to get one small thing, when it was a major deal to set up the whole desk and room again an hope you're getting near to where you were, it was BETTER

    it's TOO easy to just keep diddling because it costs you no emotional energy and doesn't even require
    much mental investment.
    THE COMPUTER may open up in exactly the same place it was last week but that doesn't mean your BRAIN does
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    THE COMPUTER may open up in exactly the same place it was last week but that doesn't mean your BRAIN does
    But sometimes that can be a good thing.

    Not always though.

    In fact sometimes I've pulled up an old session because I vaguely remembered something annoying me about it, then listening with fresh ears shows that hey, maybe i was just being too anal.

    It works both ways.
    I'm probably talking shit.

    "Mixing most 'heavy' records is like trying to find order and lucidity in a recording of a Cathedral Pipe Organ, all stops out, randomly veering between Handel's Messiah, Ginestera's 2nd and a coupla Bach Fugues, in a Titanium kitchenware foundry, while a gaggle of enraged PCP snorting gorillas with bullhorns conduct a demolition derby with cement mixers against the soothing cacophony of a nearby landslide/tsunami/heavy artillery exchange."- Slipperman
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    OK.

    This serves as a reminder to self to tell story of current mix fiasco in a way which brings some measure of levity to a situation which is basically pure hate.

    Not right now. It's 4:15am

    SM.
    Kill me. No really. Just fucking kill me.
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    I seem to have the opposite problem to most it seems. After about 2-3 hours i'm
    pretty much "spent" and have trouble convincing myself to "fix" any problems
    i may hear.

    Sometimes i wish i was a bit more disciplined and could focus on tidying up
    distracting elements instead of concentrating on the 'exciting' stuff i find.

    I'm trying to work on it but i think i'm actually getting worse.
    "Art is the expression of imagination, not the reproduction of reality." - Henry Moore

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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    hehe ditto I'm just a way too lazy fokker
    visit me @ www.studjo.ch
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    Have you experienced situation when sound seems OK, and playing OK when you solo instruments, but together they just don't feel right.
    I wonder if that could be because of DAW incorrectly compensating for recording AD latency?
    On the occasions it happened, the recording was done over prolonged period of time and probably on different gear/studios.
    When in doubt, mumble!

    EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE SHIT IF YA LISTEN LONG AND HARD ENOUGH.
  17. #17
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    I think that, just like when there is only ONE track available for the guitar solo people are forced to REALLY decide whether they need to do another one at the risk if ERASING the existing one, I think that when going back in and starting all over on a mix just to get one small thing, when it was a major deal to set up the whole desk and room again an hope you're getting near to where you were, it was BETTER
    Yes. I think this is gold.

    For all the ongoing perpetual chatter about the differences between working with multitrack tape machines and an actual board and outboard processors versus computer based DAWs, I sometimes (nay, often) think that it might be kind of a healthy thing to have more discussion of the, how should I put it, the psychological and logistical aspects of the two different modes of operation.

    In some cases (a notable example might be a current thread that looks like a good example of "I'm thinking of doing this, and I want opinions which I will then dismiss until I get people to tell me what I already decided I want to hear") this might be worthwhile.

    it's TOO easy to just keep diddling because it costs you no emotional energy and doesn't even require
    much mental investment.
    Yup.

    Guilty. Right here.

    Add into this the comment Axe made about "iterative mixing", and Otek's earlier self observations about working a mix.

    edit afterthought insert: Actually I will pick a nit there of slight personal disagreement. I can't agree that in doing that kind of thing there is no cost of emotional and/or mental investment. I mean, YEAH, opening a file on a DAW is logistically a hell of a lot easier and less gruesome than trying to get back to being set up to mix something on a board and signal routing and outboard patching and setup, sure. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's trivial in emotional and mental terms if you keep going back to something repeatedly in some quest of chasing "the Goldilocks mix".


    It kind of ties in with something I've observed of myself and think about.

    The best thing about being on your own with a home studio is that you can do this.

    The worst thing about being on your own with a home studio is that you can do this.

    I claim this statement of golden audio wisdom as "eagan's conundrum" (which, when combined with a buck-fifty, will get me a cup of crappy coffee at a local diner).

    THE COMPUTER may open up in exactly the same place it was last week but that doesn't mean your BRAIN does
    Another good one.

    It's something to ponder.


    Another story that's second or or third hand, but.... rumor had it.... that a certain formerly purple one who is approximately four feet tall and calling Minneapolis home had a certain working methodology. At least, at a point in the past. Basically, that, when working on a tune, that once the recording was started on Tune X, that piece of work stayed up, the tape stayed on the machine and the board and patching and outboard stayed put for that tune, from the start of the first basic tracks to the finish of the mix; whether this was something knocked out in an hour or two or a few days.

    It was an idea that this was a piece of work that was a product of these ideas, these people, this setting, this process and thoughts and decisions, right here, right now, until it's done, and when it's done, it's done, it's committed, and on to the next one.

    Now how I do things, but I always thought that this was good food for thought.


    JLE
    "A machine is only as effective as its user"-Wilbur Wright

    "I've suffered for my music, and now it's your turn"-Neil Innes

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    Have you experienced situation when sound seems OK, and playing OK when you solo instruments, but together they just don't feel right.
    I wonder if that could be because of DAW incorrectly compensating for recording AD latency?
    On the occasions it happened, the recording was done over prolonged period of time and probably on different gear/studios.
    Some of it may be latency problems, but the FUNDAMENTAL reason for it, to me, is the overdub process.

    When there are a bunch of guys in the room playing and the monitoring (if any) works well, there is a connection between the different players, their instruments and the sound they're making you simply cannot plug back into later.

    You may get good sounds and takes that are technically flawless, but once you put it all together the sum is very often lesser than the parts.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
  19. #19
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    I'd pay attention to all this good advice if I could.

    I read every word. Every single word.

    Sad truth is: I can't.

    I'm just too far gone.

    Fucked. Totally fucked in the coconut.

    Doomed.

    So, since I'm going to continue on the road to absolutely nowhere...

    The best I can do is churn up some more cannon fodder for you guys to, at the very least, get a giggle at my limp-wristed stab at pathos.

    Self loathing may be a cheap waste of thin and bitter elixir, but it trumps self pity. Which has no taste at all.

    Tastes like tears. HOHOHO.

    God that was awful. The emo is getting to me.

    OK.

    I started a new metalcore mix this past Tuesday for a band I have done several records for in the last 7-8 years. It's for one of the bigger indy labels that caters to this kind of fare.

    Same label they've been on since 1997.

    The singer and the main rhythm guitarist/writer guy are the only 2 member constants in the bands decade and a half of making music.

    The other constant has been the bands genre, which basically falls in the Leeway, Cro-Mags, Crumbsuckers(with a dash of Slayer throw in for good measure) vein. My shop has done everything released in this century by these guys.

    Every record has featured a different drummer, bassist and "lead" guitarist. And all the attendant strengths and weaknesses that such a number of lineup changes will almost inevitably bring.

    Never a dull WhaddaYaCallit.

    This time thru the new drummer also cut all the bass tracks. A new one for me.

    He did pretty damn well all things considered.

    Bizarrely, the guy who played bass on the last record accompanied him to the studio every single day to "oversee" the tracking on this record.

    Just as a side note: I never asked, but I suspect it was in that peculiar and(for me at least) kinda endearing spirit which often accompanies record making in this genre. Which is basically some flavor of: "I don't care who's doing the tracking on any particular song or instrument, as long as it's the best guy for the job".

    Sometimes these decisions happen in these bands writing and rehearsal stages..., which was the case on this record. And sometimes they happen on the spot in production. Which, as you might imagine, can get somewhat dicey in the crucible of tracking, with all the accompanying emotional ego baggage, to say nothing of considerable pre-production investments of time and creative energy.

    Still wish I had a nickel for every time I've seen a bassist or guitarist hand his instrument to another member to play, for a song, or difficult riff, or even a whole album... should it be deemed necessary for the "good of the record".

    Gotta love NYC metalcore.

    K. Marx woulda loved these guys.

    And I mean that in the most sincere and whole-hearted fashion.

    Anyhoo.

    The best tracking guy I have recorded every second of the record and he did his usual stellar job.

    Lemme just take a minute to explain how a typical heavy music record like this gets done here.

    We work in "Ground up lock".

    That is: A DAW chases a SMPTE locked 2" machine and generates a click, or in the case of many of these bands, a "tempo map". Which is a series of tempos at the proper beats/bars/tempos which correspond to the songs arrangement.

    This "smart click" is printed on the first decent take in which we believe we may be able to keep some, or all of the drum performance.

    It is, as I am bound to happily announce to anybody mentally challenged enough to work here, about the most dangerous, crazy, and really... apparently STUPID way to work that I know of.

    The reasons behind that assessment are legion, but I'll just state THIS: WIDTH OF LOCK ISSUES in SMPTE chase scenarios ALONE are enough to make this production methodology the realm of the true nutbars. Having said that: I know of no other way to "have all my sonic and control cakes, and eat them too" that is both practical and expeditious.

    OK. I gotta flee. It's midnight and I gotta play drums left-handed/footed for 2 hours, as I have been doing every single day, almost without fail, since last June(long story).

    As usual I'm addressing everything but the core issue, but I will get around to that eventually in my own satanically interminable, tangential, raconteral, way. And the story is gonna be worthless without some understanding/explanation of the backdrop of bedlam which is passed off as "record-making" here.

    Back soon.

    Slippy
    Kill me. No really. Just fucking kill me.
  20. #20
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    Default Re: If yer gonna go crazy... You better plan on going COMPLETELY crazy. Mixing Thread

    We work in "Ground up lock".

    That is: A DAW chases a SMPTE locked 2" machine and generates a click, or in the case of many of these bands, a "tempo map". Which is a series of tempos at the proper beats/bars/tempos which correspond to the songs arrangement.
    This is interesting.

    And yes, my experience with similar techniques lead to some hilarious clusterfucks down the line.

    A question: Have you ever worked the other way around, i.e. creating a tempo map in Logic that locks to a non-clicked drum performance?

    I am making an album like that just now. Interesting to hear what kind of pros/cons/comedie noir you've come across with this, if you've indeed used it.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif

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