When mixing a song, the time comes when you have to ask yourself, “Am I done?”

People ask “How do I know when my mix is finished?” all the time. Here are a bunch of possible answers to that question:

  • Mixes are never finished; they are only abandoned. (In other words, you have to just let it go at some point.)
  • The mix is finished when the deadline has arrived. (You promised your client would have the mix on Thursday, and it’s Thursday.)
  • The mix is finished when you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. (You’re starting to hurt the mix instead of help it.)
  • The mix is finished when it evokes an emotional response from you. (Or it makes you bob your head.)

These are all valid answers, but I’m going to throw one more in the ring for you:

The mix is finished when it no longer embarrasses you to play it for someone else.

This may seem weird to you (confession: I’m a pretty weird guy), but let me explain.

I tend to be pretty lazy. If I need to spend 15 minutes editing and automating a violin track so that it doesn’t interfere with the vocal, I might put that off until the very end of the mix…or I may forget about it entirely.

But when I play my mix for someone else, suddenly my ears hone in on those unfinished spots, those areas that need a little work. They embarrass me. They make me cringe.

If a mix makes me cringe in places, then I’m not done.

I’ll go back and adjust those cringe spots. Then if I’m no longer embarrassed by the mix, I know I’m pretty close to being finished.

This isn’t science, it’s art. So let your emotions guide you. A little embarrassment can go a long way. 🙂

To get really good at this, you have to consistently work on (and finish) mixes.

Dueling Mixes is the perfect place to do that AND learn some new tricks along the way.

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Joe Gilder
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