INTO THE MIXING LAIR
Once you’ve found your Mixing Engineer, whether they are online or local, begin sending your files to them. This entire process, depending on the project, can take several hours to several months of mixing. This depends on a number of different factors.
Some songs have dozens of layers of various instruments that can take hours for an engineer to work through. Something that really helps Mixing engineers out is having a well organized recording session. Remove all the unnecessary takes that you don’t plan on keeping, label what each track is (ie. Electric Guitar 1, Electric guitar 2, bass, drums, etc.). Hey! Maybe let out your inner Picasso out and color code those tracks!... My sessions look like all the different shades of a rainbow. This alone can really save you if you have time and budget limitations. I can not emphasize enough the importance of organization!
Typically, the mixing engineer’s goal is to take what you have and give your music a sense of clarity in the direction your music is going in... That sentence about clarity seemed kind of vague, actually :P... What I’m trying to say, is that your song has a particular sound. In many cases, that sound isn’t very clear. Your recordings may sound cluttered or dynamically flat or maybe the sounds need some taming/shaping. It’s not a very black and white kind of job. However, what a mixing engineer will do, is just make everything sound like it fits together... *With my campy voice* And kids, isn’t that what we all want?... Just to fit in?... (This PSA was brought to you by your local mixing engineer)
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE GEAR, IT’S HOW YOU USE IT
Judging a studio by the gear it has isn’t always wise. Some artist are surprised when walking into a studio, not really knowing what to expect. In a lot of cases, they expect a massive studio with tons of fancy gear with lots of lights and big knobs. The reality is that many Mixing Engineers, including myself, work from home or small studios. I have a little set up in my bedroom and this is my familiar place. What you should be concerned about is how well they use what they have. There have been Grammy award winning records that have been mixed on a macbook Pro using stock software.
Just to be clear though, I’m not undervaluing the big studios. I’m simply giving recognition to the Mixing Engineers themselves and the value in their skills as apposed to what kind of console they are using. Great mixes come from years of experience and understanding how music works and fits together. You’re not just paying for the studio and the hardware/software that these engineers use, you’re paying for their experience. Think of it like this, if you wanted a new house, you could very well build it yourself. You have access to buy all the tools that any other contractor would need. But, do you know how to build a house? I’m sure if you’re willing to learn how to build a house, you can start building as you learn, but do you really believe that this house would be just as good as one that was built by someone who actually does that for a living?
Here's a side note from living mixing legend Dave Pensado.... Take it away Dave!
MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO
Many people have a natural hunger for knowledge that is brought about by curiosity. This is very healthy and comes from a good place. In fact, these impulses should be exercised more often! That being said... If you’re a musician looking to make a record, play to your strengths and just play the music well. Mixing music is an art unto itself. Find a mixing engineer that is the yin to your yang that can take your music to the next level.
Please feel free to comment, like and/or share this article with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions or would like me to write about something that you would like help on, reach out to me!
See you all next week!