Hey It's Jeff Again! I get asked a lot of questions about Mixing so here are a few answers:
What is "Mixing" anyway?:
In terms of audio and music production mixing is the process of blending multiple pre recorded instruments or "tracks" into one stereo track..a final Mix!
What Does a Mix Engineer Do?:
The main job of the Mix Engineer is to make all the individual tracks work together to make a final song sound ready for the public to hear. Think of us as professional puzzle builders. We put all the pieces that the artist and the producer put in the track together!
What would a typical session look like?:
Everyone does it a bit differently but for me:
-I start the session by opening your file or load your pre recorded files and analyze them to figure out how to make it all work together.
-If you have a rough mix then I will listen to that and figure out what balance you and or the Producer had in mind.
-After I've gotten familiar with the song, I go through the files and make sure everything is there.
-Next up is Gain Staging. Here I level balance the tracks to give me some headroom. Hey big drums take up space y'know !?
-Then I do a faders up mix with my new gain staged files to get the song in the "zone"
-Next up is where the magic happens! I EQ, Compress, Limit, add Reverb, Delay, saturation...anything to get the mix where it needs to go...and of course don't forget Automation!!!
- When "done" I mix down the song in a few different formats and revisions and send to the client or the mastering engineer.
What order do you mix the instruments?:
Again, no right or wrong. Lots of opinions here, but I work based on the song. It's all about the song. Sometimes it's Vocal, Sometimes it's Drums. Usually Drums though. I get them cracking and booming and work my way to vocal. Sometimes it's next, other times it's at the end. Depends on how dense the production is.
What Gear do you use? are you "In" the box or "Out" ?:
I work entirely "In The Box" which means I work and mix without the use of outboard equipment. All my work is done in the Digital world usually in Pro Tools. I have all the top software and plug ins at my disposal. But I look at these as a tool box, like a carpenter or mechanic. I don't use them all but you never know which ones will come in handy. By mixing in the box I can save money and pass the savings to you! for a complete list of what I have see the GEAR page. Now, if you want to go out of the box I can! I have connections to some beautiful studios in the Greater Toronto Area and if your budget permits we can go there and mix through an analog desk! That's where I started afterall!
Hey! I have some of that gear and software, Can I do it myself?:
Yep! you sure can! I bet you didn't expect I'd say that did you!? Truth is you can mix with any standard DAW software. Pro Tools, Logic, Abelton...all of them come with everything you need to record a song and mix it. What I provide is purely experience. Truth is many home recording enthusiasts and professionals for that matter struggle with the mixing stage. I can make this process simple! Think to yourself, "Is my song worth $100?"...
Can't the person who recorded my song mix it?
Yep again! They can! So Jeff you are probably thinking, then what would I need you for!? Well, experience again! and a different set of ears and techniques. Many of your favorite records are Produced, Engineered and Mixed by different people and they are all mastered by someone else. Each person in that chain is a specialist. Does your family doctor check your teeth? No! a dentist does but they are both doctors...make sense?
Analog vs Digital?:
This is a hot topic. Analog sounds great. It does. I began my career in the Analog world so I know! That said, it was also a terrible medium to work with! The sound was the benefit of the labour intensive process of recording in those days. You didn't SEE anything you could only HEAR what you recorded. The beauty of digital is you can work faster, cheaper and with all the amazing software you can add Analog warmth and noise to your mixes! Guess what...I have this software!!! So you get the best of both worlds.
Okay I'm ready to mix! or am I ?? PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU BOOK A SESSION:
What is "ready to mix"?
- A typical session takes me 3 hours per song. That's 3 hours of mixing. Editing parts, comping vocals etc is not included in my standard rate. Here are some tips to Allow me to do what I do best! make you a musical, dynamic mix!
- What I need from you is a session in one of the following DAWs: Pro Tools , Logic or Ableton. I use Pro Tools the most but I do get some work in Logic, and I dabble in Ableton.
- Files should be in WAV format and recorded at no less than 16bit 44.1 kHz resolution.
- I need you to get me CLEAN!!! Wav files to work with in that session! I can fix poor sounds to an extent, but I can't fix tracks that are unintentionally distorted, or noisy in and excessive manner. If you are recording at home, focus on good performances first, get great tuning! be super picky!!! and getting a good clean level usually peaking no more than -6db on your meters (-10 db is even better!). I don't want the dog barking in the back ground or furnace hum in the over head mics. Turn off the furnace, the drummer will work up a sweat anyway and your tracks will sound better! Vocalists you can put on a sweater :-)
- I need your tracks edited or as FINAL as you want them to be. I mix what I get. So if your drums are out of time, I will mix them as is. If your vocal is out of tune, I will mix it out of tune. It's not my job to decide what your performances are supossed to be. Now, If I have a concern ie. out of time drums or out of tune vocal I will send an email to let you know before I begin!
- Arrange your song, and comp your parts. Again, like above, I need your files edited. If you send me 12 tracks of lead vocal and none of them clearly labelled "lead vocal" then I will be left to make my own choices and it may not be what you want. I suggest the session you send to me only contain what you want in the final mix. If you have a Guitar part in the session that you decided you don't want to use, I will likely use it. So do us a favour and delete the file :-)
My job is to make your mix musical and full. The more ready you are the better and less expensive your mix will be! Before you send a session and before I start we will communicate! This is a collaborative process! So when you book a session with me you are not alone, no question is a dumb one, and I'm working for you. To make your songs shine! I will always offer you a Free consultation.
Looking forward to hearing from you!