Mixing Myths – Top 10 Countdown

Mixing Board at Radio ValenciaLet’s debunk some mixing myths today, David Letterman style. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are 10 common myths about mixing:

MYTH #10 – “I need big 8-inch monitors and a subwoofer to adequately mix the low end.”

Yes, bigger speakers produce more low frequencies, but that doesn’t mean you NEED them. I’ve never owned anything bigger than a 6-inch speaker, and I know lots of engineers who mix all day long on 5 and 6-inch monitors. (more…)

An Often-Overlooked Key to a Good Mix

I got a very nice email a couple days ago. The guy was simply writing to say that he really liked my song “I Won’t Fly Away” (from my latest album Out of Indiana).

He gushed about how he loved the songwriting, the arrangement, the mix, the vocal tone…”everything from start to finish” (or something like that).

I was flattered, of course.

But it made me wonder what it was exactly that made THAT song stand out so much to him?

It’s kind of an interesting story how that song evolved. (more…)

Compression: Attack vs Release

Got this question from a reader:

My question is regarding the compression technique you seem quite fond of. This is where you set the threshold to such a low value that it is basically compressing EVERYTHING, but you keep the ratio really low just to even things out.

I was wondering, seeing as the compressor pretty much never goes above the threshold value does this mean that the release function is useless now?

If the release only acts when the volume reaches over the threshold – but it never does – surely this makes this function redundant, no?

That’s a GREAT question, Arman.

To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure how useful the release function is in that particular instance.

I would imagine you’re probably right. The release doesn’t probably do to much to the sound in that scenario, since the signal really isn’t ever dropping below the threshold. (It MIGHT have something to do with how quickly the compressor “let’s go” of the signal as it goes from a loud section to a quieter section, but I’m not 100% sure about that.)

However, while release times can be helpful, I find myself spending MUCH more time getting the attack times right when using a compressor. Changing attack times can drastically affect the tone of the source, much more so than release times in my opinion.

Changing the attack time alone can make a kick drum go from sounding dull to sounding punchy and in-your-face.

Granted, this doesn’t apply as well if you’re doing a super low threshold and low ratio, but the principle still remains. Keep an eye on release times, but spend more of your time getting the attack time right, and you’ll be in good shape.

If compression leaves you a little bit stumped, and you’d like to learn more, check out:

www.understandingcompression.com

Happy attacking! ๐Ÿ™‚

A Case for Mixing at a Lower Volume

In the latest podcast I did with Graham, one of our 5 mixing “hacks” was to mix at lower volumes.

Lower volumes. What’s the fun in that?

I’ll be honest. I’m not great at doing this, but there are a lot of good reasons to mix at lower volumes. Here are a few:

  • Less ear fatigue – Mix for longer periods of time without wearing out your cute little ears
  • Forces you to listen more carefully – When the speakers are blaring, it can actually become more difficult to hear everything. Turning ’em down makes you listen more carefully.
  • Makes your room less of an issue – Yes, you should acoustically treat your room, but mixing at lower volumes gives your room less of a chance to mess with the sound before it hits your ears. Blasting sound into your room will cause those room issues (and we all have them) to become more pronounced and exaggerated.
  • Nowhere to “hide” – Sometimes a mix sounds better simply when you play it louder. Forcing yourself to mix at lower volumes forces you to get a good-sounding mix BEFORE you crank the volume.
  • Flatter response – It’s a fact, louder music actually sounds more “hyped” to our ears. A loud mix seems to have more bass and more highs…even if that’s not really the case. A lower volume gives you a “flatter” response to work with…which is ideal.

“How loud should I mix?” you ask. Some folks like to get SPL meters and measure it out. I don’t. Graham made a great point in yesterday’s podcast. Mix at a level where you can still comfortable hold a conversation with someone next to you.

Hey, it’s worth a shot.

If you want to come behind-the-scenes into my studio and see how I like to mix and record, among tons of other things, you should become a VIP member. I’m adding more features that will blow you away. All for just $5/month.

Go here to get in on the action:

https://www.homestudiocorner.com/vip

You’d Be Stupid Not to Check This Out

As you may know, I’m a humongous fan of Graham Cochrane and The Recording Revolution website. Graham and I have even teamed up for the Simply Recording Podcast (which you need to check out if you haven’t yet).

However, if there’s NOTHING else you read/watch for the month of January, you must check out Graham’s latest iteration of his wildly popular 5 Minutes to a Better Mix. For the entire month of January, Graham will be posting one video a day to help you get better mixes. Each of these videos will be no more than 5 minutes.

The idea is to give you a bunch of new ideas to try on your mixes. Mixing is all about trying things, experimenting, building up an arsenal of tools and tricks. But sometimes it’s hard to figure those things out by yourself, mixing like crazy in your studio.

Getting outside opinions and ideas can really jumpstart your growth as an engineer. Seeing how someoneย else approaches a similar task can open your eyes to all sorts of new creative options.

That’s why you’d be stupid not to subscribe to Graham’s site and soak up every one of these tips.

It’s all over at his website.

Here, let him explain it to you:

6 Tips for Reigning in the Bass in Your Mix

big bad bassIt’s been said that the low end of your mix is “what separates the men from the boys.” But it can be really hard to get right, right?

Every mix poses its own unique challenges, and I never mix two songs the same way. However, here are 6 tips for getting a handle on the low end in your mix. Some of these may seem odd or strange. Give ’em a shot. They seem to work for me.

Here we go… (more…)

Why Your Mixes Need to Be Critiqued

See, Hear and Speak No EvilNobody likes to be critiqued. As Home Studio Corner grows in popularity, I get lots of people emailing me telling me how much they love the site and how much it has helped them get better recordings.

I also get a fair amount of criticism. It comes with the territory. ๐Ÿ™‚

We don’t tend to pursue criticism. However, a good round of constructive criticism can be immensely helpful.

Do you let people critique your mixes? If not, I think you should. Here’s why: (more…)

Step 4 – Mixing

mixing bowlMixing is ridiculously fun. It’s one of my favorite parts of the process.

Sadly, though, people tend to put almost too much emphasis on mixing, so much so that they don’t take the time to properly plan, record, and edit their tracks. Those steps really need to come first before you start mixing.

Once you’re ready to mix, though, let the fun begin! Here are 6 tips to help you stay on track with your mixing. This is what I do when I mix, and I love the results I’m getting. ๐Ÿ™‚ (more…)