I felt like I needed to preach in this latest post because it seems like there is a lot of people out there who are frustrated with their mixes – let me explain.
I get an email, Facebook message or YouTube message at least once a week from a subscriber/follower who wants me to mix their project (for free) and then explain to them how I did it. Now I realize that I give a bunch of tips away for free but it doesn’t mean my mixing service is free.
If you watched a video of a mechanic showing you how to do an oil change it might be a bit ridiculous to ask him if he could change your oil for free.
So to try and minimize these messages and more importantly help you out, let me explain the best and most satisfying way you can improve on your mixes.
Having someone show you the steps they took, while mixing a record, is definitely one way to learn and I don’t discourage it. In fact I have Premium Tutorials which do exactly that and I explain exactly why I do the things I do – leaving no stone unturned.
This is not the only thing you should be relying on though. Make that 20-50% of your education. The other 50-80% of the time should be spent getting to know mixing intimately, so get off the chat boards and into the studio. It’s like a person, if you see someone everyday chances are you are going to know their quirks and what makes them tick. Think of mixing in the same light.
You have to roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work, even when you feel like you have no idea what the heck you are doing. To this day I come across situations that I am not familiar with and I have to try and navigate them and still try to finish with a product that sounds great.
You must be willing to stick it out – sit there for hours until it sounds right because that’s honestly what it takes. You might have to come back to it the next day but that’s okay. Just put in the time and before you know it you’ll wake up one day and say to yourself “Damn that mix actually sounds pretty good”. I’ll never forget the day that happened to me and it’s definitely not arrogance, it’s pride in your work especially after working so hard on it.
It takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight. In a perfect world it would be nice to think that if someone just showed you EVERYTHING in one day you could then be a great mixer.
Mixing is like fine wine, the older you get the better you become (hopefully). You acquire your tastes as you go along and your ears grow and develop with the ability to hear subtle details that you couldn’t recognize before. Most engineers will tell you they cringe at mixes they did a few years back, I think it’s just the nature of the beast.
So trying to find the “secrets” the the big engineers use won’t necessarily help you all that much. They know their techniques very well and have tried them with many different tools. They got to a point where they almost instinctively know what to use, when to use and why they are using it.
I remember the point when I gave up searching for the “secrets” and just started putting in my time, I actually became more self aware. I took ownership over what I was doing and therefore developed pride in my work; I didn’t want to sound like anyone else anymore. This is one of the reasons why I’m always looking for plugins that not many people know about, I’m hoping it gives me a little edge.
Now with that said I still listen to other people and pick up tips where ever I can. Heck I’ll even buy a video or check out a seminar on mixing if I think it’s going to help me improve. One FREE mixing source that I think is great is Pensado’s Place. I definitely make sure I am in tune with what’s going on with his channel so I can hear what other engineers are up to.
It’s all about the cumulative information that you gather over a long period of time. That along with practice and your brain somehow figures out a way to make sense of it all, then it outputs something that sounds good (hopefully).
Now that you’ve heard what I think, go out there and getter done. If you have to watch some of my YouTube videos, watch my Premium Tutorials or even read the many articles I’ve written than great!
Also, I encourage you to take in all the other information that’s out there so that you can see many different perspectives, and in the process you will develop your own. Once you’ve done that just continue to put in your time like anyone else who has developed their mixing skills.
You will improve even when you don’t think you are, I promise you that.