You know what they say, “Opinions are like armpits…”

Well, when it comes to audio and mixing, I disagree. We’ve already established that you need to check your mixes on multiple speaker systems. That’s just good practice if you want your mixes to translate from one system to another.

Checking your mixes on various systems is a fairly objective process. Does the mix sound extremely different from one system to the next? If the answer is yes, then you go back to your studio and adjust accordingly.

However, it’s important that we don’t ignore the subjective side of mixing. Just because you think the mix sounds amazing doesn’t mean it actually sounds amazing. Yes, ultimately you have the final say in what your final mix sounds like, but what if no one else likes it? Is it really worth catering to your pride rather than catering to your audience?

That’s why I suggest getting opinions on your mixes.

I know, I know. “What if they say it’s awful?”

Receiving criticism is a hard thing, but it’s always an opportunity to improve. Would you rather release a mediocre mix (and never hear any criticism) or an awesome-sounding mix (as a result of heeding the criticism you received)?

I think you know what the answer is.

3 Tips for Gathering Opinions:

  1. Get more than one opinion. – You need to take each opinion with a grain of salt. If one person says the vocal is too loud, but 4 other people say it’s not, you’ve at least got some data you can weigh and analyze.
  2. Play your mix for non-audio people, too. – I play every mix for my wife before I finish with it. She’s not a musician or an audio engineer, so she gives me an opinion as an average listener.
  3. Use the internet. – You don’t have to burn a bunch of CDs to get mix opinions. Upload your mix to something like Dropbox (which I highly recommend), and then copy and paste the download link in an email to a couple of friends.

I’m getting ready to mix my album (check out that link if you’re interested in an behind-the-scenes look). I’ve got a list of folks who will be checking my mixes before I’m done. (You know who you are.)

Make sure you’ve got your own group of “mix-checkers” next time you go to mix a song.

[Photo by Marcin Wichary]