Chill Out

If you’ve ever tried to master your own mixes, you’ve likely made mistakes like this.

“Oo…I like the way that compression sounds, let me add a little more.”

“Wowzers…that limiter makes this track so loud and awesome! I bet a little more limiting will make it even better!”

“Hmm…cutting 200 Hz by 3 dB really cleaned up the mix. I’m gonna cut it another 3 dB just to make sure my mix isn’t muddy at all.”

See, the problem with mastering is that you’re making adjustments to an entire MIX.


The Magic of NO Plugins

What if I told you that I recently mixed a song where I (gasp!) didn’t use any plugins on some of the tracks?

You might be thinking to yourself, “Okay…big deal, Joe.”

Well hang on there, cowboy.

Think about the last song you mixed. Visualize it in your mind for a second.

Do you see a plugin on every track?

Busted. 🙂


Debunking Mastering Myths

You know what I like about Ian Shepherd?

He calls it like he sees it.

He says things that aren’t popular (but are absolutely true).

Ian is one of the leading voices in today’s “Loudness Wars,” the fight against mastering music at louder and louder levels at the expense of the actual SOUND of the music.

I watched a video presentation he did recently, and it perfectly demonstrated how louder is absolutely NOT better.


Take THAT, Deadline!!

As you might recall, earlier last month, I set a deadline for myself to finish this album I’ve been working on for about a year now.

I set the deadline for yesterday, April 1st.

It was an aggressive goal, as I had 3-4 songs that needed a few parts recorded, and I still needed to mix all 11 songs. (Heck, my wife Pam even told me she was doubtful I could pull it off it such a short amount of time.)

But something awesome happened, having that deadline looming in the near future forced me to get in the studio and get things done. I couldn’t waste time on unimportant stuff. I had to keep the momentum going.

And the result?


Simply Profound Advice

Check this out.

One of my subscribers emailed this to me in response to one of my emails from earlier this week.

Here’s what Ian Hudson had to say:

“In the end, you get what you recorded. You want a cool guitar sound, that’s on you, not the mix. You want a kickin’ drum track, then play a kickin’ drum track……if your song is boring, produce it better. Production and recording is everything. Mixing just makes it all sound balanced and clearer. I focused WAY to much on mixing before.”

Follow this simple advice, and you’ll do well.

Ignore it, and you won’t.

It ain’t easy. It’s easy to say, “Just record a kickin’ drum track.” It’s much harder to do it.

But it’s worth the effort. (more…)

My Arch Nemesis.

Got a $10 phrase for you today.

Cognitive Dissonance.

This guy talks about it in a book* I’m reading. Here’s a quote:

“It refers to the disconnect between what we believe in our minds and what we experience or see in reality. The underlying theory is simple. The more we are committed to believing that something is true, the less likely we are to believe that it’s opposite is true, even in the face of clear evidence that shows we are wrong.”

I think cognitive dissonance is my sworn enemy, the thing that I fight the most in trying to help people create better-sounding music.

We were discussing this in the VIP forum just the other day. (more…)


“Feel is not something you find in a book. Feel is something you find as a musician.” – Lars Ulrich, Metallica

Amen, Lars. Amen.

That’s a quote from the Sound City movie.

They were talking about tracking at Sound City Studios, and how most of the tracking was done by the entire band, playing together, in a big ol’ room.

The room wasn’t even designed as a studio. (It was an old warehouse that had been roughly “converted” into a tracking room.)

On paper, Sound City shouldn’t have amounted to much of anything. Yes, they had a big, awesome Neve console, but it was a far stretch from the swanky, comfortable studios we’re used to seeing.

And yet, it had a vibe to it. Musicians would come in, set up, camp out, and make some killer music.

Now, I’m not gonna say that the huge Neve console didn’t play a role in the success and great sound of the albums that came out of Sound City, but a console can’t create FEEL. (more…)

An expensive (but correct) decision

Got a great quote for you:

“In a movie, every scene has a specific reason for being there. Most movie makers don’t put scenes in movies that have no purpose. Why should an album be any different? Every song should have a purpose that relates to the other songs in the collection.” – Mixerman

Good stuff. eh? (See, I told you I’d be quoting Mixerman a lot, after reading his “Daily Adventures…”)

Here’s the dealio.

This album I’m working on started out with 13 songs. I did pre-production on ’em, recorded scratch tracks, and hired a drummer to play on ’em.

As I started recording the other parts to the songs, something became clear. While most of the songs had a great vibe and feel, there were two that just weren’t really working. (more…)