So I won a mixing prize on a quick mix - sharing some things I learned

I won a mixing prize (amc) for one of Andrew’s songs “Disconnected”.
This was my winning mix:

I joined the contest for the love of the song itself. I was not expecting to win anything frankly…so seeing my mix in one of the winning mixes was a surprise!
This was a behemoth of a mix, 70+ tracks with several flavors spread across genres and timelines.

My mix was soo last minute and I could critique my own mix to oblivion…
I have next to zero experience mixing Rock tracks as most of my work is in the orchestral realm. Mixing rock helps reset my ears to the outside world. Special thanks to @ColdRoomStudio for helping me understand the process of mixing the Rock genre. I am aware that I have a long long way to go here.

Most of the work in this realm is very different and mostly foreign to me. It helps to do reality checks outside your comfort genre.

What I have learned:
I am learning to do a lot of work under time pressure (the industry demands it) and I did learn some great things “speed mixing” Disconnected and wish to share my process with others.

The “No Coffee No Workee” approach:
I knew I wanted the mix energetic. So I woke up in the morning to the sound of my alarm…and brewed the strongest coffee I could!

I had roughly 1 hour before other commitments, so I started with a generic rock template I had created a while back.

My template is divided into “stems”.
I dragged in the tracks in their respective “sub” groups.

I mixed each stem individually with instinct, while watching the phase and transients as I mixed. My biggest take on this was to not second guess smaller things too early in the process.
I phase corrected a couple of drum tracks then I ran a parallel bus for the percussion and played around with parallel compression. Focusing on the drums mostly. No fancy drum plugins this early in the mix. I was mainly shaping the transients the old school way…
watching the hard knee and playing with compressor attack and release times.

I used quick release and slow attack with some top shelf clipping​
Once I was close to the sound I liked (using some references) I moved on to the next stem

Vocal stem was the easiest in this song. I did not tune anything, just did some narrow EQ and upwards compression to get it to “cut through” the energy of the mix

For the guitars…I grew up in Seattle so I am already accustomed to a wide variety of guitar tones. Guitar tones are subjective. Personally I like the guitars a bit pointy with ringing resonances and a deeper gyrating stereophonic bass. I just went with it.

For the bass guitar stem, I had a parallel track in mono and another track with mid-side compression multed to get the sound I preferred. It may not be what most prefer though.

The rest of the misc bus acoustic guitars,synths and brass I mixed by ear without overthinking it.
I picked quick reverb presets for each stem I had saved from before.

I was 40 minutes in and the mix was sounding good already as it was a well produced song. Got your quick feedback here and then I came back to it a couple days later and compared it with some commercial mixes. I did some body tweaks, reverb tweaks and made some cuts.

From here on, I needed to put in some real elbow grease (which I didn’t as I ran out of time).
My next planned step is sample augmentation for the snare and kick, sub-section dynamics, handling the acoustic guitars as I could not give them the love I wanted and tweak each song section individually.

Anyway, about two and half hour of total mixing work this was the end result. Still a rough sounding mix but it could hold its own in the herd.

Bottomline, when working quick, keep a reference track handy, and keep a mental picture of the vibe of the song. Don’t second guess too early, there will be plenty of time to tweak things if needed. You will find that the quick mix results can often surprise you.


Holy crap this is amazing. So cool that we all know this song already. Everything just pops. His big vocal just shines and nothing else has been sacrificed. Huge congrats.
Just got a new puter or I would say more. Trying to get other things workin. You have reached a new level Michelle.

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Congratulations on this mix win!
For 2.5 hours of work, and this result, truly impressive.
Andrew did a wonderful job, to begin, and Michelle put the icing on the cake.
Great work!!!
And thanks for sharing this wonderful experience.


I think it sounds very polished, Michelle. Andrew’s music is top notch to begin with and deserves such a great mix. 2.5 hours is only possible due to your organization and forethought on how to approach that many tracks and not get sidetracked.

Plus coffee! Not just a Seattle thing.

When you emphasize a reference track, do you mean like the best mix you had to date, the original mix, or even a different song you wanted to sound like? I don’t think I’m doing that much if ever, but I think even my simplest songs might benefit from some of these tips.

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Commercial tracks, I often use tracks from bands I like.
For this one I referenced with “Too Much” , some Lynrd Skynrd remasters and breaking benjamin. just a sanity check to see if there is enough fulllness, loudness, frequency balance etc

Thank you Rene! It was an eye opening experience

Thanks Paul! learning with every step!

Congrats on the win. And thank you for the detailed breakdown on your thoughts while working on it.

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