Sell me on paying an expert to mix our tracks

Triocd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
692
I'm in a band that's recording our first album. We're not in this for the money, just want to be able to play better local gigs a few times a year. We play typical rock music that isn't too complicated or technical.

Looks like about 1000-1200 worth of actual studio time recording the music. Our options for mixing are having one of the band members with protools do it for free or paying someone another 1200 or so to mix. Any thoughts? Could it be worth the extra money or can an amateur do a pretty good job as long as the tracks are good. Thanks for any feedback, never did any recording before.
 

Rex Anderson

Member
Messages
5,066
You can let your band member give it a shot. Mix one song and do the best he can. It might take him 8 hours to get a good mix on one song. If you like it, the rest of the songs should not take as long because he will have a template set up for mixing your band.

Don't forget, it's not just mixing, it needs mastering too.

A professional with experience and tools can make a lot of difference in making a good mix great. If the tracks are well recorded, it makes mixing easier. It the songs are well mixed, it makes mastering easier.
 
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oldhousescott

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,736
If you're treating this as a demo reel, then save some money and let your band member do the mix. If you plan on "releasing" the album, whether that's just sales at your shows or CDBaby or whatever, you might be best served by letting a pro mix it, although it won't cost you anything to let your band member take a swing at it first.

Everything Rex said is spot-on, especially getting it right at the source. Well recorded tracks make the whole process so much easier.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,335
Another option would be to let your guy do all the editing, and get pretty tight rough mixes together and then hand them off to a pro to go the final 10% on.

This could work well, depending upon how good your band member is. It might take an hour or so per song for the pro to tweak things in, if everything is tracked well and the roughs sound OK.

OTOH, it could be twice as much work for the pro, to undo stuff.

I'd say let your guy take a whack at a song or two and then see where you stand.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
12,951
Why don't you tell us more about the recordings? How many instruments, etc. What kind of music?

Does it have a lot of stylistic changes, or is it arranged so you can pretty much just put up the faders and let it run?

Do you understand how to use automation in ProTools (it is not that hard).

How is this for an idea - you pay the guy to come in and spend 2 hours (or so) getting the basic blend, plugins, & EQ, and then you follow on the rest of the project from there (using what he does as a template for all the songs - this works in many bands because all the songs were recorded in a very similar way). While he is there, get a lesson in how to use automation for mixing.

Then you might want to consider spending some of that money on mastering the project.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
12,951
Another option would be to let your guy do all the editing, and get pretty tight rough mixes together and then hand them off to a pro to go the final 10% on.

This could work well, depending upon how good your band member is. It might take an hour or so per song for the pro to tweak things in, if everything is tracked well and the roughs sound OK.

OTOH, it could be twice as much work for the pro, to undo stuff.

I'd say let your guy take a whack at a song or two and then see where you stand.

This is also a good idea - you could use my approach to get started, and Loudboy's to finish up.
 

zenmindbeginner

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,803
Man... paying to mix by the hour is a ticket to not having enough money to get the mixes right.

If money is no object pay someone to do it. If you are on a budget, mix it yourself.

Mixing becomes easy when the tracking sessions went well. If the OP's band left stuff to "fix in the mix" they are sort of handicapped and the mix sessions will be difficult.

I would say... have fun mixing!! Do NOT expect your first mixes to be good... they will not be. But since you aren't paying by the hour... get in there and try again.

Just remember not to beat your head against a brickwall and keep doing the same mistakes over and over. If something is not working, try something else.

Spend a few bucks on some great plug-ins... watch Pensado's Place on youtube... and just get creative and have a great time.

Don't stress and don't fight about the mix... please every member of the band and kick some butt. The lessons you learn mixing this album will be invaluable.
 

dougb415

Member
Messages
9,830
It all depends on what you hope to accomplish. Bar owners get a pile of CDs, so if you want yours to stand out, get it mixed professionally.
 

Triocd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
692
We have 2 guitars, bass, drums, keys, lead and backup vocals. Pretty simple songs with a sound kind of like a combo of pixies, weezer, and deathcab.

I don't even really know what mixing and mastering are to be honest. Rough mixes made me think 'hey, this sounds great!'.

I'll google mixing and mastering but if anyone wants to attempt simple explanations give it a shot.
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Messages
19,078
There's a bit of a catch-22 here. Tracks that are recorded really well tend to be very easy to mix. Tracks that are not great present a lot more challenges.

If your recordist band member has the skill to get really clean tracks that sound good, he is probably going to have no trouble mixing them. You can save your money for mastering, probably.

If the tracks are so-so, dull and lifeless or whatever, then a pro might have the best chance to give you results you can actually use. You'll still want to pay for mastering, probably.

So focus on the front end of the process, and if you're successful, the back end part should be pretty easy.
 

mattball826

Member
Messages
20,813
Bar owners here don't take cd demos. They want you to have a lot of pics of people having a good time, and video is far more essential. They don't want studio demos, and most shy way from taking cd's or may take them and never call you because they don't listen to them.

Put some video of your band on youtube. Give them a business card with links to your website (ie promo page).

If doing orig music, that's a tougher gig for a bar.

If not selling it, try mixing yourself and see how it goes. There may be a decent amount of local mixing amateurs that would help you out. One of the Comm Colleges here have a program for students and they work out mixes for local bands, schools and what not. Most of it is free.
 
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Crowder

Dang Twangler
Messages
19,078
I'll google mixing and mastering but if anyone wants to attempt simple explanations give it a shot.
Mixing is everything you do to create a stereo track where all the elements are balanced the way you want to hear them. A "mixed" song will sound really good, but it won't sound like the songs you hear on albums or the radio. Mix questions are things like "which element is louder" and "can I tell what the singer is saying?"

Mastering is the process of taking that stereo track and "normalizing" it to the standards of volume, EQ, and consistency that your listeners expect from recorded music. A mastered song will sound about the same to you whether you hear it in your car, on earbuds, or in the grocery store. A mixed song will not.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,967
That depends, but as the not so uncommon statement around here goes.. You get what you pay for.
Think of it this way it really is a matter how could the guy willing to work free is. However the irony is that you consider having someone work free in order for the band get work. :)

Now if your guy mostly uses his set up to jam along I.E. has no clue how to make drums sound good, or frame and balance a mix then you best get some one to do it as a pay gig.

Since I have no idea what your project is like I can tell you that 100$ for anything above 48, let alone 100 tracks is unlikely to get you a great mixer.
I set up and headed the production program in a music college and the lack of audio common sense is scary.
Even more scary the concept of what should be included in price... Mastering really should be done by some one else unless this really is just a demo thing.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,967
Mixing is everything you do to create a stereo track where all the elements are balanced the way you want to hear them. A "mixed" song will sound really good, but it won't sound like the songs you hear on albums or the radio. Mix questions are things like "which element is louder" and "can I tell what the singer is saying?"

Mastering is the process of taking that stereo track and "normalizing" it to the standards of volume, EQ, and consistency that your listeners expect from recorded music. A mastered song will sound about the same to you whether you hear it in your car, on earbuds, or in the grocery store. A mixed song will not.
I'm sorry but that is a gross misconception of what mastering has become let alone was.
The it should doing the same regardless of environment is so far left field.
I've come across this many times with students or clients if mine.

Think about it this way the source and space, I.E. speakers and room... If you could have audio sound ball park the same between say car stereo, iPod, computer speakers, dock etc.. Why would that tech not have been ported into all consumer/prosumer and pro audio... Imagine a Bassman sounding the same through a 410 Oxford loaded cab as a EV 12loaded ported cab..
Speakers and rooms impart a frequency curve on what's there.

What mastering was...literally... The mastering engineer took the final 2 track mixdown aka the master tape and prepared it to whatever format it was delivered in.
For example vinyl needed a high pass filter sincetoo much bottom end would have the stylus cut too deep, just as having kick and bass in the center comes from it being the deepest part cutting the groove and off center it'd break the stylus.
The Fairchild compressor exists for this with its early sorta M/S processing.

I'm not even gonna touch the stupid brickwall limiter loudness war nonsense.

As a side note when I mix and it's attended sessions I make sure to play back their reference material (another pet peeve, but that's a different story) on 4 different mo itors, including head phones, and mono dock so the client wraps their head around the concept of mixes translating but not being anywhere nearly the same on different set ups.
 

vintagelove

Member
Messages
2,558
Pay a professional to do it. It takes ten years just to be able to really hear what you'll need to do to get a good mix.

A compressor can make a vocal stand at the front of the mix, or be small and lifeless. Are you confident your band mate knows how to make the right adjustments?
 

DunedinDragon

Member
Messages
947
Assuming the studio time you're planning on results in a decent capture of the songs, the quality of the mixing will depend on three things: the person's familiarity with how to use the features and capabilities of ProTools, his familiarity with the fundamentals of EQ/signal processing and creating a stereo soundstage, and the quality of tools and equipment he has at his disposal (headsets, studio monitors, plug-ins). It really comes down to his level of knowledge and equipment.
 

partytrain

Senior Member
Messages
6,111
Do it yourself and have fun. As long as your guy has the patience to listen to the song 100+ times, it's a great learning experience. I'm a better all around musician because of it.

Don't pay any attention to the "you need 10 years of experience" nonsense. There are no hard rules.
 

Rex Anderson

Member
Messages
5,066
A lot depends on your recording process. If you have a lot of takes and overdubs to choose from to get a working track, the person doing that needs to be competent with the DAW. Since your band member has Protools and is offering to mix, maybe he is good at using it, but it will be mixing in the box.

If the studio you are recording at has a good console and your tracking process is fairly straightforward, the engineer will have rough mixes set up already and could possibly knock out good finished mixes fairly easily. The studio probably has way more outboard tools and plug-ins than your band mate. Weigh the advantages versus the expenses.
 

heffernoise

Member
Messages
261
If you're going for a produced sound, the best question to ask, in my opinion, is what is your time worth?
Having a buddy give it a shot will require many hours of trial and error. However long you think it'll take to get a product you like (depending on your expectations), double it.
I've had tracks mysteriously disappear, had to rerecord parts on different days, made some pretty awful decisions with mic placement, etc.
Going to a studio is expensive but will save a ton of your time.

On the other hand, the time I've sunk into home recording I feel was worth the investment and, will echo what was said earlier, has made me a better musician.
 




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