Early Mixing is not a group activity

teletail

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My bands last project some years ago had a fairly well known pair of producers who definitely had their own idea of what our band should sound like. We weren’t permitted to be part of the the mix process.

They really changed the sound the band. I was a studio rat, actually had my own project studio. What I’m trying to say is I know my way around a control room.

They didn’t include many of the recorded tracks on the final mixes. We (band) hated it when we first heard it. They wouldn’t even share rough mixes with the band.

It was a demoralizing experience even though the CD came out super powerful and was well received and had wide distribution.

I suppose there is a moral to the story. 😀
If I pay someone, they work for me; they don’t give me ultimatums if they want to get paid.

I’m glad your CD was well received, but for me, I’m less concerned with commercial success than I am with my music. If my CD doesn’t sound like me, it’s not a success. If the producers substitute their goals for your goals, that’s a recipe for disaster.
 

Esquire Jones

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If I pay someone, they work for me; they don’t give me ultimatums if they want to get paid.

I’m glad your CD was well received, but for me, I’m less concerned with commercial success than I am with my music. If my CD doesn’t sound like me, it’s not a success. If the producers substitute their goals for your goals, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Absolutely agree. Years later it still ruffles my feathers how it went down.

However the whole thing was paid for by the record label.

Let’s call it a life lesson.
 

teletail

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Absolutely agree. Years later it still ruffles my feathers how it went down.

However the whole thing was paid for by the record label.

Let’s call it a life lesson.
When you're on someone else's dime, that's a whole other story. I did a demo many, many years ago. The drummer wound up paying for it because due to all of his "suggestions" the price was going out of sight and the rest of us basically told him either shut up or pay for it himself. Well, the demo came out great, but for some reason he and the engineer changed one of the notes in my guitar solo. You could clearly hear it. It bugs me to this day. He is such a jerk I wouldn't put it past him to have changed the note just to piss me off. I really know how to hold a grudge. :)
 

THX1123

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When a studio was most often needed to make decent recordings it seemed much harder to escape from mixing hell.

When someone else besides the band is paying for the recording it could be even harder to escape from mixing hell. Not only are the musicians obsessed with their parts but some unqualified weasel from a label is often poncing around. I always found this ironic as the band ultimately is paying for the recordings.

We once went as far as scheduling mixing during a specific religious holiday so our label dorks couldn't attend.

Now I do mixes at home for my own bands and projects. I do mixes to 90% and then the band gets together and collaborates on final tweaks.
 

Esquire Jones

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When you're on someone else's dime, that's a whole other story. I did a demo many, many years ago. The drummer wound up paying for it because due to all of his "suggestions" the price was going out of sight and the rest of us basically told him either shut up or pay for it himself. Well, the demo came out great, but for some reason he and the engineer changed one of the notes in my guitar solo. You could clearly hear it. It bugs me to this day. He is such a jerk I wouldn't put it past him to have changed the note just to piss me off. I really know how to hold a grudge. :)
😆
 

chulaivet1966

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What say you ?
Howdy T....

My opinion?
To your title: correct..."early mixing" is not a group activity.
In the context, the more people you involve the less people you will please.

In my case, being the producer, song writer/arranger I do the first mix.
That's my creative license.
Having others chiming in at this early mix stage is just a distraction.

While collaborating with Ken (klasaine) in the last three years or so on damn near a dozen tunes I always did the first mix.
It may take me a couple days.
Then, knowing Ken's background and experiences, I happily :) forward it to Ken and I have always employed his mix suggestions.

For a final mix....2 people is plenty from my perspective especially since any mix will likely never please everyone.
I don't send it out to 10 people for their opinions or approvals.
That unnecessarily complicates the mix process.
Everyone's systems and everyone's ears will perceive a mix differently so that does nothing but complicate the process to the end product.
I don't need or desire that many many sets of ears, nor do I care that it will not be perceived as a great mix on every system.
That would be an impossibility anyway from my perspective.
I only care about how my system mix translates to Ken's system....end of story.

We (Ken and I) have good equipment and pretty fair ears and have always arrived at an agreeable mix pretty quickly.

Anyway, that's my take...sorry for the novelette. :)

(EDIT: If I'm in a pro studio with a song I wrote/arranged then the producer and myself would be the only ones involved.
In all the years I've been doing what we do I've never had a comment from any listener commenting on my (our) mixes.
The only comment I've received on a few occasions is that my lead vox could come up a bit.
I'm sure that has nothing to do with me being a bit self conscious of my vocal performances.:) )

Carry on....
 
Last edited:

teletail

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When a studio was most often needed to make decent recordings it seemed much harder to escape from mixing hell.

When someone else besides the band is paying for the recording it could be even harder to escape from mixing hell. Not only are the musicians obsessed with their parts but some unqualified weasel from a label is often poncing around. I always found this ironic as the band ultimately is paying for the recordings.

We once went as far as scheduling mixing during a specific religious holiday so our label dorks couldn't attend.

Now I do mixes at home for my own bands and projects. I do mixes to 90% and then the band gets together and collaborates on final tweaks.
I finally learned my lesson. When I go to the studio, I use a studio I've been going to for years and I trust the sound engineer/producer (or whatever he is) to do the mix. I tell him what we're looking for, provide examples and he works with NO input from the band. This has worked every time for us.
 

THX1123

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I finally learned my lesson. When I go to the studio, I use a studio I've been going to for years and I trust the sound engineer/producer (or whatever he is) to do the mix. I tell him what we're looking for, provide examples and he works with NO input from the band. This has worked every time for us.
I've done this as well. We had minor suggestions for the final mixes that they tweaked easily. Some of his decisions seemed odd at first but made sense the more we listened.

You hit on some of the most important (and rare) things:

1. Trust in your mixing engineer via reputation or prior experience working together
2. Musicians who aren't insecure

I would add these:
3. Playing for the song and not to just hear yourself
4. Realistic expectations given budget and talent

My last project was a trio. The drummer and I wrote the songs and sang. We had input for the mixer on our first two releases. It can be challenging to mix a trio with minimal overdubs without some kind of input. It wasn't the kind of band where you could just say "make it sound like album X" The mixing engineer needed input to make the right decisions. Example:



I recorded and mixed the third release myself. I did 6 songs. There's still 4 songs to finish. I will finish the last 4, but it is a lot of work, I am burnt, and I moved 12 hours away from those guys last year. I really need to be inspired to do it properly.
 

Masmus

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We all should remember that he who pays for the time gets to make those decisions. Labels are there to make money not satisfy anyone’s ego. Also remember that an A/R guy at a label told Black Sabbath I don’t hear a single. We got “Paranoid”

Usually after ten hour of recording the band doesn’t want to spend time doing ruff mixes. And no I don’t let anyone sit in on those.
 

fretWalkr

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My bands last project some years ago had a fairly well known pair of producers who definitely had their own idea of what our band should sound like. We weren’t permitted to be part of the the mix process.

They really changed the sound the band. I was a studio rat, actually had my own project studio. What I’m trying to say is I know my way around a control room.

They didn’t include many of the recorded tracks on the final mixes. We (band) hated it when we first heard it. They wouldn’t even share rough mixes with the band.

It was a demoralizing experience even though the CD came out super powerful and was well received and had wide distribution.

I suppose there is a moral to the story. 😀
I really like this story. I can see the point of view from both sides. I can see coming away disillusioned too. I think the producers were kind of jerky not sharing working mixes but their production choices were right. They came up with a successful CD and after all it is still a business.

The success of the CD is obviously important to the band. A lot of groups have had long careers with a loyal following because of one or two successful records that got them established. Having that would give the band the room to grow their vision and production chops.

Maybe the moral to the story is that sometimes you have to take the long view.
 

Esquire Jones

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I really like this story. I can see the point of view from both sides. I can see coming away disillusioned too. I think the producers were kind of jerky not sharing working mixes but their production choices were right. They came up with a successful CD and after all it is still a business.

The success of the CD is obviously important to the band. A lot of groups have had long careers with a loyal following because of one or two successful records that got them established. Having that would give the band the room to grow their vision and production chops.

Maybe the moral to the story is that sometimes you have to take the long view.
Very thoughtful comments here.

Years later, the recording sounds good and has stood up well. It was done with old school sensibilities; 24 track 2 inch tape.

I was able to use some great guitar gear (along with my own stuff) including a 68 Marshall Super Lead 100 and matching cab. A sweet black 72 Les Paul Custom. Neve console, Old Neumann mics, etc…

And they went all out getting professional mastering done. All in all I’m proud of it. 😀
 

Space Pickle

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I was watching a Y Tube interview as to why Randy Meisner was turned away at a POCO mixing session. He was part of the band and he apparently thought he should be there. Jim Messina and Richie Furay were alone in the studio at the Board. They denied Randy's entry, for whatever reason at the moment. Its a wild story of "Blame Game" and hurt feelings. Jim Messina had it right, tracks are done now its time to put it together, HE was the producer. As he said we don't need extra people making mixing suggestions at this critical time, thats what PRODUCERS do . Nobody ever asked Randy , well what if George and Rusty wanted to join the MIX session ? now there would be 5 making suggestions. Many of the comments regarding this incident are really crazy, " Randy was a great guy, they should have let him in" . "Richie Furay was an idiot " etc... I personally think Randy had hurt feelings and this incident was totally blown out of proportion. 50 years later people are still talking about it.


So when you are done tracking and headed towards the final mix, is it a group activity ? Its not for me , way too many distractions with others only listening to THIER part and not the big picture.

What say you ?

I don't know who any of these people are but when I send a track to be mixed I never go to the session. I don't want to be there. The engineer doesn't need to be micromanaged, just work with someone you trust and let them go to work.
 

wabashslim

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I wouldn't have wanted band members attending the mix - bad enough they were at the recording sessions.

The last band I was in never could perform the original songs at the same level as my homemade demos, except some guitar solos and of course the vocals (two chick singers). That's why I refused all requests to take ourselves to a "professional" recording studio that I would've had to pay for anyway.
 




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