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Settling on a mix

rob2001

Member
Messages
16,927
Anyone else have a hard time saying "this mix is done, it's as good as I can get it"????

I burn and listen to many mixes of our songs in order to improve, get it as good as I can. I take pride in trying to do a mix as well as I know how, given the tools I have. I listen to these mixes so critically that I keep finding things I can improve on. That includes re-tracking, re-writing if needed, re-mixing etc....

The thing is, i'll listen back to an older mix and it's fine! I can sometimes pick out reasons why I didn't like it but when I step away and just listen, not critically, the differences are small.

My wife thinks i'm loosing my mind listening to THE SAME SONG 30 times!
 

stratus

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,480
I hear ya loud and clear. Just finihed a mix. Went back a few times after mixing it and going to the car and critiqueing it. That's the best way, IMHO, of knowing how it's going to sound on most car and home systems. Providing you have a decent car system, can be the run of the mill Honda Accord system,in my case. That's the way I went and I have played it on different systems and it sound's great. You cannot get a good read from your studio speakers because they're so efficient and it's not what the people on the outside are hearing. Good luck.
 

rob2001

Member
Messages
16,927
I hear ya loud and clear. Just finihed a mix. Went back a few times after mixing it and going to the car and critiqueing it. That's the best way, IMHO, of knowing how it's going to sound on most car and home systems. Providing you have a decent car system, can be the run of the mill Honda Accord system,in my case. That's the way I went and I have played it on different systems and it sound's great. You cannot get a good read from your studio speakers because they're so efficient and it's not what the people on the outside are hearing. Good luck.

LOL, yep, I have the rotation down...... boom box, two cars, home ent. system, computer!
 

forestryguy

Member
Messages
810
I tend to be obsessive about letting anything go as finished or at least "good enough." The real art is knowing what to leave in and what to leave out. My wife's art is the same way; when is a piece ever finished and time to move on to the next? You can't build a body of work until you get over that hump.
 

art_z

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,866
Anyone else have a hard time saying "this mix is done, it's as good as I can get it"????

I burn and listen to many mixes of our songs in order to improve, get it as good as I can. I take pride in trying to do a mix as well as I know how, given the tools I have. I listen to these mixes so critically that I keep finding things I can improve on. That includes re-tracking, re-writing if needed, re-mixing etc....

The thing is, i'll listen back to an older mix and it's fine! I can sometimes pick out reasons why I didn't like it but when I step away and just listen, not critically, the differences are small.

My wife thinks i'm loosing my mind listening to THE SAME SONG 30 times!

I'm in the same boat. been working on our CD (self recording/mixing) 5 piece band since December. Once I have something mixed I'll listen to it for several days on my 2 hour round trip commute. And I still miss things. My drummer or someone else will say "did you hear that little screwup in song X at 1:23" and I'll never notice as there are so many things to try to listen to. Its always good to get as many ears to listen critically.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,312
"You never finish mixing, you just stop."

When you run out of one of these:

1. Time
2. Money
3. Patience
 

buddaman71

Student of Life
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,929
Eventually you just have to go with it, or you will never put anything out there.

I am obsessive my nature and always find something I wish I'd done better, but here's what I have come to realize about MY stuff:

99.infinity% of the people who will ever hear your tune will never critique the mix as harshly as they do the tune itself. If the lyrics or hook or melody are not good enough to grab their emotional attention, then no one will ever care about how the mix sounds. Spend the REAL time on the crafting of the tune, record it the best you can and expose it to as many people as you can.

Unless the mix is just obviously atrocious, you will almost NEVER hear from a listener, "Man, I liked the tune, but it would have been a hit if the Left panned electric guitar had a little more 250Hz to fatten it up. You were so close!"

You WILL hear, "Man, I like the intro and how the chorus stays in my head and reminded me of when I was in college." or, "That middle section has a really hypnotic instrumental break. LOVE that!"

Know what I mean??
 

Bob Womack

Member
Messages
2,705
I do it for a living. A couple of things:

1) You will never finish a product. You just have to learn to quit. No joke. "Finish within the time allotted." That's the skill.
2) Distance helps. Do your best. Put it away with written "to be done" notes for two weeks. Listen without reading the notes and make a new list of what needs to be done. Now compare the two lists. Bet the new list is shorter.
3) The more you do, the better you get. Nothing helps more than experience.

Another frustration is opening an older project that you really like and listening to it in light of how much your craft has advanced in the intervening time. "If I'd only known to do this like I do now!" You can drive yourself nuts. Fuggettaboutit! :rolleyes:

Bob
 

FractalGarden

Member
Messages
1,827
You only listen to your songs 30 times. That's nothing!
I was thinking the same thing. I'll fiddle with a mix over weeks/months if there's no rush, but at the least over several days, and I'll listen to the song way more than 30 times. So I'd better like the song, a LOT, to do that.
 

jmoose

Member
Messages
4,993
I listen to these mixes so critically that I keep finding things I can improve on. That includes re-tracking, re-writing if needed, re-mixing etc....
If your re-writing & recording parts then you aren't ready for mixing.

At some point everything's gotta stop. There IS always a point in time where things are "good enough" to let go of and move on with new material. Otherwise no artist would ever finish anything & continually chase the elusive "perfection" of the moment...

Often with mixing, some people get WAY too caught up in trivial things that make little difference in the outcome. I wish I had... oh wait... I do have nickles for every time that someone wanted a mix recalled to make a 1dB change to the level of the first three notes of a solo... or back the reverb time down by .2 seconds.

None of that stuff matters and it all changes much more dramatically in mastering anyway.
 

rob2001

Member
Messages
16,927
Ya, i'm way over 30 listens on a given song...thats just a number I threw out for discussion.....it's much higher than that.

As to the re-writing/re-tracking, it's not that there was anything wrong with the original tracks. It's more that the wheels are always turning on options...like trying a clean guitar instead of a semi-dirty track, different guitar or bass tones, adding a vocal harmony, adding or taking out percussion, stuff like that. These things do make a difference but it's not changing the song overall.

But I do admit to re-tracking a lead or two just because I felt I could nail the vibe better, or have a better tone....... and a few that just weren't that great (to me) and needed to be re-written.
 

SideBMusic

Member
Messages
1,543
Creative types are their own worst critics and best appraisers. Some of us obsess over the details, others not... it doesn't really matter. Listen and tweak as much as you like, save at stages so you can go back and compare. Even when I am done, I love to listen to my work over and over; after all, I recorded it for MY liking, not to make it fit others' expectations. Everyone has their own rules and their own taste.

One bit of advice would be to get away from it for awhile from time to time so you can hear it fresh. Sometimes that will be just a day, others, a week or a month.

It surprises me when I read things like emails I have written, even proofread, and find I have left out simple words like "the" or "and." So, if it is important, it is probably a good idea to get some distance sometimes.
 

kludge

The droid you're looking for
Messages
7,104
I desperately need deadlines myself.

Also, remember that time spent poring over some "perfect" mix is time NOT spent on other things. My backlog of projects is my best defense against perfectionism.
 

Bix

Member
Messages
345
What a great thread! Things like this make me feel much more normal!!! LOL! Anyway, I've written a collection of songs with the intention of producing an album. I started with demos of all the songs, and then started tracking, but decided to get one song 'finished' first. That was September.... Since then I must have burned 30 cds of this first song to listen to, upgraded my signal paths, monitors, acoustically treated my room, etc...... The good news is, the work has not been in vain. The result is so much better than my first attempt, and the song is days away from being 'done' not perfect mind you, but I don't possess the ability to make it perfect! So I completely understand the idea of when to quit working on something. I'm actually considering joining NISA, so I have an imposed deadline per song of one per month to correspond with submission guidelines... Otherwise, my first album will be my swan song!!!! And I REALLY don't want that! LOL!!!!

Bix
 

rob2001

Member
Messages
16,927
I hear ya Bix. I can't say my gear has changed a lot in 5 years but my knowledge of it has for sure. So that alone makes me dig recent drum tracks with better mic'ing techniques, more knowledge of EQ and compression, different signal routing etc...over stuff that was tracked 2 years ago.

We re-did one song entirely because of this and I really think it sounds light years better but still, the first one had it's own coolness and vibe. So in my mind, as you said, it's not in vein, but overall, it's still the same song and i'm not sure the better fidelity of the re-do matters as much as I think it does.

I guess I don't want to let it go until I feel I don't have to make any disclaimers or feel a need to explain anything. And it's not that i'm striving for perfect. I'm fine with glitches and humanity in a recording.
 

Shiny McShine

Member
Messages
9,490
I do it for a living. A couple of things:

1) You will never finish a product. You just have to learn to quit. No joke. "Finish within the time allotted." That's the skill.
2) Distance helps. Do your best. Put it away with written "to be done" notes for two weeks. Listen without reading the notes and make a new list of what needs to be done. Now compare the two lists. Bet the new list is shorter.
3) The more you do, the better you get. Nothing helps more than experience.

Another frustration is opening an older project that you really like and listening to it in light of how much your craft has advanced in the intervening time. "If I'd only known to do this like I do now!" You can drive yourself nuts. Fuggettaboutit! :rolleyes:

Bob
Whew, what a relief...

The real problem when mixing is two fold--having experience with reference audio systems and having a reference audio system available to mix on. Most have neither so they never really know what they're hearing or shooting for.
 

jmoose

Member
Messages
4,993
As to the re-writing/re-tracking, it's not that there was anything wrong with the original tracks. It's more that the wheels are always turning on options...like trying a clean guitar instead of a semi-dirty track, different guitar or bass tones, adding a vocal harmony, adding or taking out percussion, stuff like that. These things do make a difference but it's not changing the song overall.

But I do admit to re-tracking a lead or two just because I felt I could nail the vibe better, or have a better tone....... and a few that just weren't that great (to me) and needed to be re-written.
When there's no deadline and your self-producing, wearing all the hats its really easy to get caught up in trying different things, almost always to a detriment.

I've worked on more then a few indie projects where people wrote the songs, worked on 'em for 3 years trying every permutation of everything... and when the record finally came out the songs were 4-5 years old and they had written new songs.

They didn't want to play the old songs anymore because they were old!

You know, we never hear about Tom Petty or Dave Grohl self-recording & producing a record... doing everything themselves even though they could. Its just too easy to get caught up in stuff that doesn't matter.

If you're making 'a record' that'll be released to the public & help the career of the artists then someone has to be the one to say "Hey dude, thats great right there. Lets move onwards" and keep an eye on that deadline... be it the artistic or the commercial if not both.

Regardless... mixing shouldn't be approached until all the parts are set in stone. Otherwise its time wasted that could've been spent on other things, like writing more songs.
 




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