I’m tipping my hat to Graham on this one.

He’s the one who reminded me of this a year or so ago, and I promptly forgot it.

And it’s a little embarrassing, I’ll be honest.

Here’s the story…

As you know, Graham and I are competing against each other every month as a part of Dueling Mixes. We each mix the same song, then members vote.

Well…as I write this, Graham’s winning in the poll. (Don’t worry, he’s not winning by too much. I still have faith in Team Gilder.) 

Now there are plenty of differences between Graham’s mix and mine, but one in particular made me do a #facepalm and think “Why didn’t I think of that?” You see, on this particular song there are quite a few electric guitar tracks, and during one portion of the song things start to get kinda crazy. There are two or three guitar tracks doing some random “noodling” (that’s the professional term for it).

What did I do in my mix? I just left ’em in and made ’em sound good, of course.

What did Graham do? He reached for the magic button. The mute button.

This is one of those powerful tools we all have at our disposal, but we just tend to forget about it.

Just because the artist recorded a bunch of tracks doesn’t mean you need to use them. I’m not advocating drastically changing the recorded material, but if a particular track isn’t helping the mix, mute that thang.

Here’s a lesson from Captain Obvious: If you don’t mute it, then it will be heard in the mix.

Gasp!

If you don’t like the way it sounds, or if it’s just making the mix worse, taketh thy mute button and engageth it.

You can always turn it back on if the artist really wants it, but chances are if you’re really doing what’s in the best interest of the song, they will agree with your decision. (Or they won’t even notice that you muted it…they’ll just be basking in the glory of your awesome mix.)

Sometimes you can get so caught up in mixing that you forget that perhaps you need to evaluate whether the tracks you’re hearing are “worthy” to stay in the mix. Listen with a producer’s ears, not just a mix engineer’s ears.

If I lose this month’s duel, it’ll be because of my lack of mute button magic.

But mark my words, Cochrane. You won’t get off that easy next month.

And if YOU want to try your hand at this track (and also vote for my mix while the tracks are downloading to your computer), go here:

www.DuelingMixes.com

 

  • Definitely agree with you both on this one. In fact I have been doing quite a bit ov this myself in the process ov finishing off and over-deadline project at the moment. And as it happens, it’s mainly got to do with guitar noodling too. Despite that this particular track ov noodling was actually pretty damn good (if I do say so myself), it was conflicting with a vocal and had to go. Well I didn’t kill the part compleatly, just removed the bits under the vocal.

    I guess that is an addition to this lesson too. Sometimes you don’t need to remove a whole part, just truncate it somewhat. Good ol’ DAWs! 😉

    While I was at it I also removed a count cymbal, that while mainly was there for a guide, it was also something that *could* have added to the mix, but in this case it distracted. So it too had to go.

    Plus, in this same song I found myself attempting to polish a turd. Now, this is something that I am rather good at actually, and when it pans out it’s the source ov much perverse pride. But this time it didn’t work at all.

    The drums in this song were from a dubious source, and while the beats were very cool, the audio quality was totally shite. So, the whole drumtrack had to go, and was replaced with some quality loops. Ov course it massively changed the feel ov the song, but in the end in a good way, and not to mention it improved the quality ov the overall mix in SPADES! 🙂

  • jon

    hey Joe! where do you get the raw tracks from? does some third party record them or is it you and Graham?

    • It varies. This month we’re doing tracks from a client of Graham’s, recorded by the client. Next month are tracks recorded by another artist that I produced. December will be tracks from one of the Dueling Mixes members.

  • Paul McD

    Absolutely agree .. there’s automated muting/fading going on all over my mix. And the ‘vibes’ got scrapped altogether. I wondered whether you guys deliberately put in so many tracks to see how many would try and use them all .. 🙂 .. but then realised you are not that devious … surely?