'Correct' mixing vs "style"?

springing off of this post Bash this Song and Recording

okay, I often hear that there is ‘too much’ or “too little” of this or that in a mix. Maybe some imaginary comments would be:

“too much mud and buildup”
“where is the top end?? the whole track is lifeless”
“way too much sizzle on the top end”
“why is it so hollow in the midrange”??

And sometimes people like to use words like “correct” lol. (if there is some holy book out there telling us what is “correct” for a mix, please link me)

So where do we draw the line between something being “correct” and different producers having different styles?? I mean, I dont think anyone here would say that 5 top producers will EQ and level ANY song exactly the same. Each producer has a style, correct? (neverminding the fads that come and go etc)

So I am going to link to 3 songs that I like. 3 of my fave albums, all from about 1988-1989. Linked in to the start of the 2nd verse on each of them. Which is “correct”?? since they are all different yet all great IMO.

This one. ULTRA classic timeless album IMO. Produced by Bob Rock. IMO this is about as dark and distant sounding as it gets. The whole album was pretty “warm” to my ears. Guitar and keys are way off in the distance and everything is pretty reverby. Seems the only things with any treble bite at all are the vox and hi hats

Okay, another classic from 1989. But this one is way brighter and more present to my ears. Its not off in a cavern somewhere. Not as much “depth” to it IMO.

Another super classic album IMO. about 1988. Ted Templeman producing. To me this one is pretty bright also.

So which is “correct”? lol

of course im being somewhat facetious, we all know there is no “correct”.

Is this just basically about deciding what type of sound we want and then trying to line up our recordings with matching reference tracks?



Of course, successfully achieving that goal is another story.


yeah. in keeping with my “hook only” recording I did the other day, I think I will extend that idea and try to get a ‘pro’ sounding hook only production lol.

In other words just write and play another hook and fully produce it to see how good i can get it to sound…as opposed to tackling a whole song

sort of like practicing on a 5x7 canvas instead of trying to do the Sistine chapel ceiling

Agreed that there is no hard and fast “correct”, but I think one thing most people strive for is that the instruments and voices are all audible and sonically “legible” and aren’t lacking the components that characterize their sounds (i.e. lacking low end in a kick drum etc.), and that other components of the mix aren’t stepping on those characteristic sounds. If you can do that, and your other more stylistic choices (panning, mix-based dynamics, etc.) serve the material and its impact, that should be a very large part of the battle IMO.


Unfortunately, the “correct” style seems to change withe genre, and also over short periods of time. Either way, what appeals to me is the combination of a great song that the producer enhanced. Producers following the latest version of “correct” would have a hard time with me. Frankly I hate the current sound of a mtal kick drum, which to me is all beater attack to show off someone’s foot speed, but it is everywhere.

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First of all, I love you for knowing both Blue Murder and Tora Tora. Secondly, I think style can get you far. I always thought the snare on Surprise Attack was a little snappy. Their second album Wild America sounds fantastic despite the horrid cover art. I hate the Blue Murder mix honestly, despite Bob Rock being very talented, I feel like Blue Murder is a muddy mess. John Sykes’ guitar sound sucked with Whitesnake and it sucks on this album. Zakk Wylde had the same sound on No Rest for the Wicked (Keith Olsen gave him the same setup as the Whitesnake album) and that is one of the worst sounding records of all time. So that leaves Bulletboys, which doesn’t sound that great in my opinion, but is better than the other two. It’s all a matter of opinion.

Wild America bests them all with Sir Arthur Payson at the board.

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yeah, I almost posted something from Wild America. great sound

and we will have to disagree…nothing about John Sykes sucks lol. Greatest combo lead singer/lead guitar player EVER IMO. One of the greatest tones and vibratos ever.

Dunno if u ever heard this…Hughes/Turner project. John with the sick tone and vibrato and phrasing

hard to believe dude aint done a studio album in 17 years. Thats a sin

I like that you mentioned “producer style”. That probably means something different now than it did years ago, at least in terms of recording whole bands at one time rather than OMB (one man band) and tons of overdubs. In the past, the players were many times skilled seasoned musicians who had been road tested. They knew their gear and their sound, and it had probably already been successful in the eyes of other musicians and fans. Enter, the studio. The domain of the producer. Some things could radically change there, but likely not the musicians tone of choice as that could throw a huge wrench in the works since the band as a whole is a ‘gestalt’. That basic tenet might work for, or against, the resulting recording.

Some of the great producers certainly had their own sound, and arguably that’s what made them stand out and helped the band be successful. It could backfire too. The way I see it, shifting viewpoints during the process can be very helpful. The macro and the micro. When there was a team of people that made a recording you used to get both of those in abundance. Many critical opinions, and many “gut feelings”. Highly skilled experts, and plain old music fans (the drummer’s girlfriend etc). The big challenge now can be “isolation”. That’s where the recording forum might be helpful, but even then it’s relative strangers coming across a thread on a given day offering a multitude of opinions … with no real contact with the whole project sequence and particulars. As can be seen by the divergent song references and tastes offered above. :wink:

The audience is a huge factor too. If the listener doesn’t connect with and like what you have done, they’re on to the next. Likely there are elements of the song which - if they like them enough - some other details might be ‘forgiven’. People tend to bond with music on an emotional level first. Either it works or it doesn’t. So from that viewpoint, does the gestalt (all subtle elements) of the sound support the emotional statement of the song? Do the mix dynamics support it? If the vocal is the ‘star’ of the production, are all elements supporting that in getting the message across? At some point, you have make something that you think is good and that you are proud of. We can’t control who will like the song or music, who will connect with it emotionally, etc. There has probably been some great music that never got popular because of the timing of its release or trendiness, and fair music that has become blockbuster hits. There are so many things you can’t control, you (the producer) might as well be supremely happy with what you have done, whether it gets any accolades or not.

Just for contrast, I absolutely loved No Rest for the Wicked. I got the cassette tape when the album was released and wore the thing out. Part of it was the new sound with Zakk, part of it was the tension and hooks in the songs. The sound was fine to me, even definitive of the music and its style. Listening to “Miracle Man” now (probably my favorite), I think it’s quite dark. Speaking of “producer style”, NRFTW was produced by Roy Thomas Baker. The producer of the first 5 Queen albums including the Grammy winning "Bohemian Rhapsody. It looks like the producer credit for MM actually goes to Keith Olson, but surely RTB “signed off” on all the songs on the album.


Good post !

I liked that album quite a bit at the time. As I look back on it I’m not as impressed as I was back then but Ozzy had quite a few good song ideas on that album. I really liked Breaking All The Rules, Fire In The Sky, Devil’s Daughter, Crazy Babies and Miracle Man. I kind of agree with doubletrackinjive about the guitar sounds not being great. The guitars sounded too washy-watery to me …(I’m not sure if it sounded exactly like John Sykes as doubletrack says (he may be right though), but the guitar on some of those Whitesnake albums is washy-watery as hell also)… I’m not crazy about the production on No Rest For The Wicked either but it was a good attempt and Ozzy’s songwriting was vastly improved from The Ultimate Sin.

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That’s worth trying. It’ll give you less to think about. That would probably let you intensify your focus on honing the particular piece of music that you’re working on.

Here’s the interview where they talk about RTB and how he they got rid of him for Olsen. Interesting stuff, and I like No Rest for the Wicked too. I like some of the songs better on the “Just Say Ozzy” EP because of how bad the record sounds (in my opinoin). I prefer the Jake E. Lee stuff, and his Badlands albums are fantastic as well. This may be heresy, but “The Ultimate Sin” is my favorite solo Ozzy record. Every song on that album is great.[quote=“Jon-Jon, post:7, topic:1485”]
and we will have to disagree…nothing about John Sykes sucks lol. Greatest combo lead singer/lead guitar player EVER IMO. One of the greatest tones and vibratos ever.

Oh, he’s an absolutely brilliant player, I just don’t like his tone.

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Ah, cool! So it was a “bad blood, dump the producer” thing (though it sounds like RTB stormed out when confronted by Zakk). It happens. Things look good a first, and then something just doesn’t click and goes “off the rails” :slight_smile:. It sounds like Zakk really took ownership of his sound and didn’t let the big boy producer boss him around. So RTB got credit for the songs he did, but Olsen was the one that stepped in and supervised the completion of the album.

“Bark at the Moon” is probably my favorite Ozzy song, and I really liked “Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebel” and “Centre of Eternity” on that album. Maybe a few more, but the titles don’t sound that familiar. Jake was awesome. He claimed that he wrote all the music on the BATM album, but didn’t get credit for it. The BATM (song) guitar solo is one of my favorite of all time, anywhere.

TUS was a good album, I liked a few of those songs, especially “Lightning Strikes”. Some of the songs just didn’t grab me that much though, something about the vibe or the key, I don’t know.

Interesting timing on the Jake E. Lee & Zakk Wylde Ozzy talk. My podcast covered this last week.



Here’s an interview with Jake talking about all the songs he wrote on Bark at the Moon. Both those albums had production problems too. Max Norman produced and engineered Bark at the Moon, and he was supposed to mix it as well. The label didn’t think Norman was a big enough name all the sudden and got Tony Bongiovi to mix it (Jon Bon’s cousin). Jake thought the album suffered as a result, I think it sounds all right. As for TUS Nevison and him fought every day as you can see in that interview above. Jake E. Lee wanted his guitar sound only on a couple of songs, then he wanted to switch it up for different songs. Nevison didn’t want to because he said his tone was fine, so that’s what’s on the album. Interesting how they went from Nevison’s sparkly production to Olsen and RTB’s super heavy and dirty sound. Nothing against Olsen, some of his records sound fantastic like Night Ranger’s “Man in Motion” and “Standing Hampton”.

I’d like to know why there are four measures missing from Shot in the Dark between the first chorus and second verse on the 1995 version of the album. I have the original Japanese pressing on CD, but I was curious why they cut down the re-master. It’s not the single version because they used the same version on the album for that.

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Cool interview, thanks!

The only thing I can think of is the lawsuit against Ozzy because of the kid that (allegedly) shot and killed himself while he was listening to the song, and (allegedly) because of the lyrics. I think the kid was really wasted when he did it, and maybe it was similar to the Judas Priest case about ''Stained Class". Record companies can be very sensitive to things like that, and maybe somebody decided to cut some lyrics or something to avoid more problems.

I don’t know, because the four measures that were cut didn’t have any lyrics. It was an instrumental bit.

Here’s the uncut version as seen in the video after the first chorus.

Here’s the cut version.

You know when I joined this site I thought the users would be a bunch of hipsters because of the whole “indie” thing. I’ve been pleasantly surprised.


Ozzy has done a lot of douchey stuff thru the years due to trying to rip off people and not pay royalties etc.

he had other musicians come in and re-record Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslakes ultra classic stuff and it absolutely ruined some of the songs. It was so bad that finally he had to put it back like it was due to fan outcry etc. But it just shows how much of a douchbag the Ozzy/Sharon combo is. Even the ultra iconic drum intro to little dolls got redone and the redo just plain sucked. I literally have no words for it.

They did rip Jake off on BATM. Jake was young and naive and he didnt have any contract in writing and Ozzy and Sharon kept telling him “just keep working and we will get the contract together blah blah”. After he had done the whole album they essentially told him he wasnt getting any writing credits and if he didnt like it he could get on a plane

Bob Daisly got it the worst, but he just kept coming back for more. I know about the 2002 remaster bullshit, that’s why I own all the original Jet/CBS/Epic pressings on CD, including the Live & Loud speaker mesh cover that’s too heavy and tearing the case apart. Speak of the Devil was the hardest to find, and it’s missing Sweat Leaf even though it totally would have fit on the CD even with the limited running time back then. I should get the Castle version with it because that’s not brickwalled either.

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As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is a certain level of appropriateness of mixing technique within certain styles of music. And it changes through time. There is a difference between an absolute correct vs a relative correct. Each time you hear the word ‘correct’ you have to take it in the context of the style and the song.

At the top levels, there will be common factors within the specific style of music within a specific era. And it come down to weather producers want to keep their jobs or not. It has nothing to do with artistic independence or ‘going against the grain’. This discussion ultimately ends up being a financial one.

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which for the most part doesnt apply to us lol. I just like to muse to myself how there seems to be SOOO many ways to make stuff sound good yet I have hardly found any of them hehe