Sunday, April 17, 2016

DrScythe Recording Blog - Part IV: My mixing philosophy

I wanted to do a blog about EQing and then noticed that I didn’t explain my approach to mixing so far. And that would leave you with my tips for using EQs without knowing why I do use them in this way. So my mixing philosophy boils down to this:

Keep it as natural as possible but do whatever necessary to make it sound good to your ears.

This leads to several consequences.
1. My mixes will never sound as modern as most of the others.
This is pretty obvious. Modern mixes sound everything but natural and are pushed to the max in terms of usage of limiters especially the releases of mainstream artists or the big players of some genres. Of course this doesn’t apply to every major release…but the ‘plastic sound’ as I tend to call it is a standard at the moment. A standard I chose to avoid for matters of taste. I know that some of my songs would profit from an overly processed sound (Calling The X for example) but I prefer to keep learning how to achieve a fat but also warm sound that keeps the character of the originally recorded tracks. It seems that gluing the tracks together is a little bit more complicated this way but I will keep on learning and improving.

2. My mixes will never have a constant volume.
If there is a more quiet part in a song I won’t use the tricks of modern loudness to eliminate the overall dynamic of it. What you might have noticed is that I am very cautious when it comes to compression so far and that’s something I am working on. Controlling the dynamics on track level so that I don’t need much compression on the sum. I think it’s becoming better. Compression works a little counterintuitive so that I think most of the people will struggle a little with that when beginning to mix music.

3. Very few effects.
Well…I had a POD XT Pro, POD X3 Live, POD HD and a Vetta II Combo for years and used all the effects extremely rarely. I like effects when just fiddling around but not really in a finished song. A little chorus on an arpeggio here and there and the almighty duo of reverb and delay. But that’s it. Bit crusher, phaser, flanger, ring modulators…nice to play with but nothing more to me so far. We’ll see…I am not against them by default (although ‘natural’ seems to suggest no effects) but it’s basically just not my style.

4. I don’t care about competitive loudness.
Seriously. I just don’t care. I don’t think it’ll ever have to compete on airplay so I can just keep it at a normal level.

5. You wouldn’t normally…too bad.

You wouldn’t pan the drums from the drummer’s point of view – I do because it sounds and feels right to me. One of the most important things I took away from reading and watching interviews with well-known mixing engineers: they really don’t care about things like ‘normal’ or ‘regularly’. They are called if someone wants their style of mixing applied. Try out their tricks and tips, try out the standards but be honest with yourself and ‘mix it your way’ if that’s what you want the music to sound like.

6. But your mixes sound really cheap so far.
What a surprise I am still a beginner. I am not even able to achieve the things I want to but that’s part of the whole learning process. And instead of ruining other people’s hard work I am practicing with my own and will be able to easily remix everything later on.

Well this was a shorter one as I am busy getting two tracks out to you this month. And I am pretty sure that only few will like both songs. And owls won't like either of them.
Guaranteed displeasure if you're an owl

So long,

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