I’m reading Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior right now. There’s a section on reference tracks, and while I’ve kinda-sorta used reference tracks while mixing before, I don’t have a collection of go-to reference tracks that I use frequently. I can see benefits to this.
It seems to me like there are 2 main categories of reference tracks.
- I love how this bit of this song sounds and I want to use it as a guide.
- I’d never want to have more than this. (Such as sibilance, bass, vocal volume, whatever.)
Does that sound right?
So… listening skills. I signed up for the pro version of SoundGym. To be honest, I kind of suck at most of the games! The EQ ones are probably my best right now, (maybe from having used TrainYourEars,) but yeah lots of room for improvement. On the flip side, listening to music more critically over the past year or so has brought me noticeable improvement in my ability to hear things in music that I didn’t before. Still, I have a long way to go.
Which brings me to choosing reference tracks. I am not sure I can trust myself to do this well! However, I do think that I must take the responsibility for myself. I started thinking about this yesterday. Let’s assume I pick reference tracks that aren’t ideal. What I imagine would happen is that I’ll hear a song sometime that sounds better than a reference track of mine, and just replace it. And that this can happen until they stabilize. I think that what is most important is that I listen for myself, and that I pick mixes that I truly like. Not that other people tell me are good. I have already had the experience of checking out a song that I love and realizing that I don’t like the mix, so I didn’t choose it.
I’m aiming for about 5-10 songs with elements in them that I really like, and want to emulate.
Does this seem like a fruitful approach? Any tips?