Musicians have never before had such a great selection of cool tools at such affordable prices, and this has helped empower those with musical dreams to realize those dreams. But what some people don’t seem to realize is that these tools are, in many ways, instruments in their own right. Back when gear was expensive, a limited number of engineers were able to work in recording studios, and they honed their skills recording and mixing day in and day out—just like the guitar players who sat around and played scales until their fingerings were perfect—and they learned their “instruments” well.
Today, it’s rare for musicians to have come up through the studio ranks, and as a result, few have amassed enough experience to play our new tools like a virtuoso. No one thinks that all you need to be a guitar player is to buy a guitar, yet it sure seems a lot of people think that as soon as they’ve bought a computer and some DAW software, they know how to mix. As someone who’s mastered well over a hundred tracks, I’ve heard some great mixes, and I’ve heard some lousy ones—and I think I’ve put my finger on some of the main differences.
The first issue is conceptual. An old-school recording engineer could love the music being mixed, but not be emotionally attached to it. One of the big problems I hear with mixes is that the musician falls in love with some particular favorite sound or riff and highlights it―without questioning whether or not it truly drives the song forward. Frequently, these goodies actually distract from the music more than contribute to it. Every decision made during the mixing process has to be based on one question: Does this create a better experience for the listener?
So the first task for musicians who do their own mixing is stop being the player, and start being the listener―not the listener who knows every nook and cranny of the song, but the listener who’s never heard the song before, and wants a cohesive musical experience more than anything else.
The second issue is technical. Mixing is not just an art, but a science. Specific instruments occupy specific frequency ranges, and interact with other instruments. Physics enters into the equation via room acoustics, and of course, the human ear is an extremely complex transducer. It’s not an easy task to equalize instruments so they work well together, then adjust levels so everything is balanced perfectly and place all the instruments in the stereo field for the most pleasing soundstage.
So what’s my proposed solution? If you want to get good at mixing, mix as much music from other musicians as possible. Don’t charge anything; ask for project files, load them into your DAW, and get to work. (If you don’t use the same DAW, have the tracks rendered as WAV or AIF files, and bring them into the DAW you do use.) Give them the mix when you’re done, and see what they think.
Because you’re working with someone else’s music, you’ll bypass the subjective element involved in mixing your own music, allowing you to concetrate more on mixing. And by doing lots of mixes, on lots of different kinds of music, you’ll build up a repertoire of techniques that will serve you well.
When you return to mixing your own music, you’ll be coming to it from a much broader, and better-informed, perspective. And who knows? If people really like your mixes, you might have a side gig in your future―and I speak from experience, because that’s how I ended up doing so much mastering!
by Craig Anderton
This 2 x 4 USB 2.0 audio interface is tailored specifically for the Mac—and sound quality
by Jon Chappell
by Craig Anderton
This is the thread for those of you who like to geek out on the historical oddity that is the P-90—Gibson’s single-coil pickup that’s often mistaken for a small humbucker. See more pix of P-pups on ’Pauls than should be legal!
|Fixing a Guitar Output Jack|
Eventually, one of the wires soldered to your guitar's output jack will come loose. When the crackles hit, you can do this common—and simple—repair yourself, with some rudimentary soldering skills and the good advice from this thread.
Modern record production allows so many options it’s understandable that people occasionally get confused about how certain sounds were made—even the knowledgeable folks of the effects forum, who share some of the misconceptions they had before they were musicians.
|Are There Advantages to Recording at 48kHz Instead of 44.1kHz?|
As the CD format continues to fade, it's worth re-visiting whether we still need to record at 44.1kHz—or whether 48kHz might offer some sonic advantages.
|Pedal Power Supplies|
Nearly all effects pedals require a power source, and you typically have options. But what’s the best option? Check this thread out for some stellar suggestions on how to power your pedals and pedalboard.
|Recommendations for a Rack Multieffects Unit?|
With so many available mutieffects, from used gear that was "big in the 80s" all the way up to the latest and greatest wonder boxes, picking the right option can be daunting—but the Keys, Synths & Samplers forum has plenty of advice to aid the decision process.
The TC Electronic Arena Reverb is a customized take on the successful TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb. This pedal features four exclusive Toneprints that were custom modeled after classic reverbs, including Cathedral, Hall, Room and Spring Reverbs. Each customized Toneprint captures the totality of tonality in programs like Spacious, Bold, Versatile, Dynamic, Cream-y and more.
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