Remember that little clip that would play at the end of Family Ties?
“Sit, Ubu, sit! …Good dog!”
Ah, good times.
(I honestly thought it was “Boo Boo” my whole life. Wikipedia informed me otherwise.)
Anyhoo, today I want to take a look at a popular mixing expression. One of my subscribers asked:
The “sitting in the mix” expression…I hear that constantly and read it all the time, but at what point has that been reached?
There are way too many catch-phrases in the recording world. I’m definitely guilty of saying “sit in the mix” a LOT. (In fact, I’ve said it in NINE separate articles…yeesh.)
So…why don’t we unpack that phrase, shall we?
I was on a webinar last week with my Production Club members talking all about mixing. One of the concepts I talked about was that mixing is both horizontal and vertical.
Horizontal is the easy one. Your mix has a left side and a right side.
Each instrument needs its own “location.” Just like everyone in the band has their own spot on stage at a concert, every instrument in the mix should have its own “spot” in the mix.
Okay, so that’s easy enough, right?
Vertical is where it gets tricky…
When thinking about the verticalness (definitely not a word) of a mix, you’ve got to ignore the horizontal factor for a while.
How do you do that? Mono, baby.
When you mix in mono, you take away the ability to separate things horizontally. Now you’re faced with the task of making all the tracks “play nicely” together, without having the crutch of simply separating the ones that don’t get along.
(“You, acoustic guitar. Stop picking on the mandolin. You go left. Mandolin, you go right.”)
In mono you can’t separate things with panning. What do you have to use? Two things. Faders and EQ.
The fader is a powerful mixing tool. I can’t tell you how many times a simple fader move solved more problems than EQ ever would.
Once you’ve got the levels set, you’ll need to use EQ to create further separation between the competing instruments.
It’s hard work. It takes practice. But in time it will become second nature to you.
How do you know when you’ve got things “sitting in the mix”? When you can hear each instrument clearly and distinctly, and the mix sounds full without sounding messy.
That’s my definition anyway.
To train that EQ muscle of yours, head over to: