While I’m not confident about my mixing skill and I still do not find a workflow that let me take great (or better) decisions at the very first steps of a mix, I tried different things, to make different moves very early, ending to different results.
Details on mix 1
This one is pretty straight-forward: tapes into the mixer, all work was done into it (gain, EQ, comp, reverb) then back to the recorder
There is some regular bussing like guitar or drum busses
Details on mix 2
This one was inspired from the mix-engineer and producer Philippe Zdar’s way of mixing.
There was a free seminar on Mix with the Masters where he explained he liked distorted inputs of his mixing desk, add EQ instead of removing and so on…
This mix’ idea comes from a guy making live mixing thru an SLL desk.
While reading comments, he uses ProTools as the tape player and does some bussing and EQ correction in it, while makes some creative choices and EQ with the desk and outboard gears.
This mix shouldn’t exist but I read somewhere that one pro guy starts his mixes with kick and bass first to spend the very first steps managing low-end, which is very difficult to get it right at the end.
For this mix, I opened kick, snare, bass and lead vocal tracks trying to get something balanced, a decent level and so on, but no bussing.
And as I was using an hardware mixing desk, it’s also a way of learning it, learning how it sounds, testing routing and effects…
Anyway, thank you for your time, reading and listening to thread, I hope it was not so confused…
Mix 4 sounds the best to me - definitely fuller and more expansive, both frequency, depth, and width-wise. There is a touch of muddiness coming from the bass, though.
Mix 3 is very “compacted” frequency-wise, with not a lot of low end extension, and it is pretty narrow too.
Mix 2 is nice and wide, with a deeper bass, but the vocal sounds a bit muddy, as does the rest of the mix.
Mix 1 is a little muddy, pretty narrow, and the vocal is tending to get buried by the acoustic guitar.
In general, the vocal on this is pretty dynamic. Even on mix 4, there are a couple of spots that need to be automated to even out the vocals and make everything clear.
I don’t know if that helps… Interesting experiment!
Giving it a quick listen Mix 2 sounds best to me, has better transient impacts and good width. Good clear bass movements with better bass guitar tones but the vocals needs to be a bit clean and cut through a bit better (not in terms of loudness but the blend). I would gravitate to this type for mix for this kind of a song / genre in general.
Mix 1 , Mix 3, Mix 4 have tone issues, a bit of unpleasantness overall. Possibly from being a bit thinned out.
That sounds like really great practice! I dont think the actual result matter that much, I’m sure you learn a ton by going through this, especially using gear that you are not necessarily familiar with or that appear somewhat limited in comparison with the seemingly infinite possibilities of a computer with a DAW.
That said, mix 4 sounds fuller and has less of that guitar vs vocals competition that can be heard in the other mixes. Maybe working on the vocals early works better for you? I personally like to take care of the vocals at the very end but it does make sense to start with the most important things.
The first mix sounded very unfocused, I think the panning was out of place.
Number two brought everything more down the middle, which what your ears expect to hear.
Number 3 had better focus, but less energy, the bass sounded a bit wimpy.
I like 4 the best, because the vocal was nicely positioned, and the relationship between the instruments was better. I’ve always thought getting the drums and the bass to sound like they are paired properly sets the stage for everything else. Of course that doesn’t mean I ever get it right, but that’s the most organized thought process to start from.
It would be nice to have some time to play with a nice desk, there’s a lot to learn and it is not an easy process to memorize all the routing.
Ok then, I wish to thank all of you listening and commenting this kinda experiment.
One obvious bias I had while mixing this is the more I remixed it the faster I adressed things that need care (wide dynamic range for singer, “sss” from him, boomy drums, clicky bass guitar, noisy guitars…) and the more I know the song.
So it could also be seen as 3 drafts and one mix since more people prefer the last proposition…
Nonetheless I’m not sure which workflow leads to the best result or which one is faster…
By the way, I’m not convinced I found a way to get “pro” results without any doubt
Very interesting feedbacks here!
I used tricks to enhance stereo in mix 2 and 3 but none on mix 4 and it sounds wider
And it looks like I always missed the muddiness thing, which looks like a constant in my mixes…
I also tried different behaviours on each mix: clip gain before processing, automation before or after processing, various compressors…
It still isn’t enough at the end…
Oh yeah, it totally helps, of course.
Many thanks to you!
Oh, what a surprise! I really like your argumentation about why you prefer this mix over the others.
In this one, the goal was to go fast, without thinking a lot: Philippe Zdar explained he never reset his main desk when he started a new mix, it could sound good like that. So I took another mix (from another song) and start from it.
Ouch!! It means I was never able to address tone issues whatever I tried…
It also means I have lot of homework to do.
By the way, thanks for your precious time and your detailled comment, I really appreciate!
Thanks for your comment and I still try various things to find what works and what doesn’t…
I do find those guitars tricky: they are the only instruments in this extract that play chords, fill up the mid and hi-end frequencies but they really are noisy.
When reading Mike Senior’s book about mixing, it makes it way obvious: spend more time and ressources on the most important parts (mostly lead vocal on many songs).
I thought it was something widely shared…
For this mix, I try to handle both sides: lead vocal and low end. I’m not convinced I get something balanced at the end.
Again, thanks for your comment and details your shared
Many many thanks to you.
It looks exactly like the more I remixed this extract, the better it sounds.
I always feel uncomfortable with that since I have no idea it should sound in solo, which ratio each should get, how loud or quiet it should be, how much low-end it should take…
When I tried this, kick sounds muffled or too clicky, bass sound boomy and I spend the whole mix undoing what I previously set…
I read lot of people doing this, but I don’t know what to expect at the end
By the way, thanks for your comment, it’s really helpful!
Hey, thanks for stopping by here!
Your comment surprise me because I think the singer has lot of dynamic and it brings life in the performance. Guitars are a bit noisy, but some are also coming from the vocal track and it complements dry tracks nicely.
Again, thank you for your comment and all the music and mixes you bring here!