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  • So How Would You Define a "Good Mix"?

    This jumps off of a comment in another thread about the mixes Mark Longworth does.


    Some would define a good mix as something that's technically clean, has a full, balanced sound, applies proper use of mastering tools, etc. But then you have mixes like the ones on the early Who albums, that sound as if insane monkeys were allowed to tweak the knobs at random, but the mixes sound really cool and have a high level of energy.


    The mix on some classics isn't all that great, and then you have the anomalies. For example, I find the mixes on the Stones' "Exile on Main Street" muddy and crowded, but I think they're great, and totally appropriate. It's one of my favorite Stones albums. Or take Phil Spector's "wall of sound." Probably not the idea of a great mix from a technical standpoint, but those were great mixes nonetheless. 


    I guess to me, a "good mix" is one that sounds like it was performed rather than just had the controls set on automatic pilot. The human touch, and all that.

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  • #2

    A great mix, is the one that translate the artistic vision of the creator, to the audience, no more and no less.

    Comment


    • UstadKhanAli
      UstadKhanAli commented
      Editing a comment

      SpamBot wrote:

      A great mix, is the one that translate the artistic vision of the creator, to the audience, no more and no less.


      I completely agree.  

      I do not believe there can ever be a "universal" definition of what a great mix is other than a statement like this.  It's not about EQ, balance, this, that, compression, whatever.  It's about exactly what is said above.


    • MikeRivers
      MikeRivers commented
      Editing a comment

      SpamBot wrote:

      A great mix, is the one that translate the artistic vision of the creator, to the audience, no more and no less.


      That might be true for a song that's mixed by the creator, but sometimes the creator doesn't really have an "artistic vision," he or she is just making some music and thinks that what comes out sounds pretty good.

      Different kinds of music call for, or characteristically get (your choice of sides to the argument), different kinds of mixes. For some, the mix becomes the creation, for others, the mix disappears and you hear what was created. Sometimes the mix adds or subtracts musical content from the raw material. Sometimes the mix is all of the raw material balanced so that it creates a mood or experience consistent with the lyrics or musical content. 

      And sometimes the mix is a performance, sometimes it's just pushing up the faders and saving what you hear. And while many will agree that a certain mix is "good," nearly everyone will wonder what it would be like if there was something different.


    • Ernest Buckley
      Ernest Buckley commented
      Editing a comment

      SpamBot wrote:

      A great mix, is the one that translate the artistic vision of the creator, to the audience, no more and no less.


      Thats a pretty darn good definition. 

      I was listening to some Tina Turner this morning... one song was "We Don`t Need Another Hero" and the other was a live version of "Rolling" with Ike. I couldn`t help notice how different both mixes were and yet they were both great. The studio version of Hero was amazingly clean and precise. Performances were stellar, levels were even and the arrangement was perfect. I really felt the emotion of the lyric and the song just kept me interested throughout. Then came Rolling... what a mess it was from a mix standpoint but the energy level was captured. Horns were blaringly loud, vocals were inaudubile at times but the energy of the band was authentic and I felt right there. 

      Same performer, two completely different mixes that both translated the intention of the artist.


  • #3

    To me a good mix makes the various instruments sound like they belong together, like it's one big happy family of a song. A bad mix sounds like a bunch of unrelated **** thrown in a junk drawer.

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    • #4
      And right onto that post.^^^
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      Comment


      • UstadKhanAli
        UstadKhanAli commented
        Editing a comment

        Here's another opinion that I'm going to throw out there.

        Too many of us try and get everything perfectly balanced.  And that's okay most of the time.  But I think we need to allow that sometimes, something is not perfectly balanced, and that's right for the song. It's okay for the guitar to come in on the left and be too loud.  It's okay for mixes to be more dominant on one side than another.  All that stuff can sometimes be unexpected and exciting.

        Get everything too perfectly balanced with respect to panning and volume and compression and whatever...and sometimes, it's just too POLITE sounding.  

        There's times in which I'll be mixing, and the mix is technically really great.  But it's *boring*.  It's polite.  It doesn't get up in your face.  There's no "wow" factor.  There's nothing exciting any more.  And you think, "When I hear this song live" or whatever, it's great.  And you have to get back to that sometimes.  Make it rude.  Make it f**ked up.  Make it slap the listener in the face.  

        Sometimes THAT'S a good mix.

         

         

         


    • #5

      Anderton wrote:

      This jumps off of a comment in another thread about the mixes Mark Longworth does.


      Some would define a good mix as something that's technically clean, has a full, balanced sound, applies proper use of mastering tools, etc. But then you have mixes like the ones on the early Who albums, that sound as if insane monkeys were allowed to tweak the knobs at random, but the mixes sound really cool and have a high level of energy.


      The mix on some classics isn't all that great, and then you have the anomalies. For example, I find the mixes on the Stones' "Exile on Main Street" muddy and crowded, but I think they're great, and totally appropriate. It's one of my favorite Stones albums. Or take Phil Spector's "wall of sound." Probably not the idea of a great mix from a technical standpoint, but those were great mixes nonetheless. 


      I guess to me, a "good mix" is one that sounds like it was performed rather than just had the controls set on automatic pilot. The human touch, and all that.




      Well, don't forget you've been bonding with those mixes for decades. 


      If I put on my serious analyist hat and really listen to Derek and the Dominos, just about all I hear are various flaws. The mix is muddy, lots of background noise, hum, etc, Duane's slide pitching is all over the map (many un-thanks to whoever made a point of mentioning that in some thread, as now it's really hard for me to not hear it, even though I thought I'd got over that aspect long ago)... but I STILL love the album, its many flaws included. In fact, don't touch those mixes. Don't clean 'em up. Don't remaster them. Don't mess with them. Would you re-engineer the Eiffel Tower? Would you 'improve' the detail work in the Mona Lisa? 


      And, flipping the coin, I've heard a lot of 'perfect mixes' of perfectly respectable but ultimately completely uninvolving songs. 



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      The chorus seems a little weak... I think it needs more lasers.

      Comment


      • UstadKhanAli
        UstadKhanAli commented
        Editing a comment

        Yes, mixes that are too "polite".  Perfectly balanced, beautifully EQ'd, etc., but uninvolving.  

        What does the song really need?  What is the emotional and artistic statement of the song really crying out for?  What does the mixer really need to do to unleash the song to its full potential?

        Sometimes, hardly anything.  Other times, turning up the freak.  Or often, somewhere in between. 


      • Anderton
        Anderton commented
        Editing a comment

        blue2blue wrote:

        Well, don't forget you've been bonding with those mixes for decades.




        True, but the very first time I heard Exile on Main Street my opinion was the same as the one I have now...same for the Who, etc. I can't think of any example where a mix "grew" on me.


      • Anderton
        Anderton commented
        Editing a comment

        blue2blue wrote:

        And, flipping the coin, I've heard a lot of 'perfect mixes' of perfectly respectable but ultimately completely uninvolving songs. 




        That relates to a complaint I have about current technology - it's reached a level of quality where it's very easy to produce something with the "look and feel" of music, but without the soul.

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