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Is it all based on the same mix template and when is too late to try something new?
Old 22nd September 2004
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syra's Avatar
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Is it all based on the same mix template and when is too late to try something new?

...this is my first question to Dave but please feel free guys to make this thread your own...

1. Is it all based on the same mix template?

For example you said in this forum that you don't use mix buss compression. Is this almost true for all of your mixes? What are some standard things (like layering samples, multing, parallel compression, and so on) that you do (or start a mix with) the majority of the time if not 100%?

and 2. when is it too late to try something new?

when do you stop fighting with something and decide to try a completely different approach...for example I find myself sometimes spending a lot of time working with a multed kick sound while if I had used a sample (in that particular case) I could have gotten what I was looking for, right away.

I hope the connection between the 2 questions is clear.

I also know that everything depends on the song and the sound we're after but I assume everytime a mixer sits behind a desk they don't re-write the book of mixing from scratch. And finally, if the way you approach a project governs the techniques you'll use, would you mind sharing what would be your typical approach for different styles?

Long subject and long thread...I'll shut up now...Thanks, syra
Old 2nd October 2004
Guest Moderator - September 08
Dave Pensado's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Another good thread

I almost never start with the drums first on an a capella song! Always remember that. Syra, I like to have some of my things preset up for me, and I like to redo some things every mix as it relates to templates. I usually go a month or two with similiar efx sends and returns, and them change it all up. I have a 104 input console, so I can leave quite a few things up, and only use them once in every 20-30 mixes. We all use templates to some extent, and when time is a factor, they are real timesavers. You just have to be careful that you chose THAT verb because it was the best, and not because it was THERE. I know this is obvious, but think about it multiplied 30 times, and you can see how you can get an "of the shelf" mix, instead of a "taylored" mix.

When I say I don't use buss compression, I should have said I don't use it all the time. I used it today, because I thot it made my mix sound better.

I usually start with the sound that excites me the most. Sometimes it's a vocal, sometimes it's the drums, sometimes the guitar, sometimes a cowbell. I NEVER start a mix until I can hear the finished product in my head. I will play the ruff, play different tracks, play with myself, until I have the VISION. Sometimes this might take 3 or 4 hours. An interesting thing with ecue, he used to basically do an amazing mix before I came in. It used to throw me off because I liked his so much, I could not think of anything to do myself, because I had his mix in my head.

Another very important factor is confidence. That comes with time. Before I had that, I would second guess myself all the time. Like we said in another thread, your 1st impression is usually the best.

I actually will change gear on a sound until it sounds like I hear it. On the new Christina "Car Wash" song I started with an old Gates StaLevel on her vocal. I just knew it would be right...it sucked. So we tried a fairchild...nope. Then a Neve 33609...not quite. Finally we tried an 1176LN which I have NEVER used on Christina, and it was perfect. How do you know when to change a piece of gear, unless you know what you are looking for? It is never too late to try and make it better. Just don't let the client see you doing it too much.

An interesting question I have never been asked is if I redid a mix from scratch a month later, would it sound basically the same. NO NO NO. When I do a recall, I can't stand to hear what I did, and pretty much make an effort to make it "better". "Better" is where my head is at NOW. I would change it completely, but by clients would freak completely out. I'm not sure I COULD make it sound the same, because I wouldn't have the patience to do it. That would be an engineering exercise, not a MIX. Hum, something to ponder. Your thots?

Extreme, very cool setup, we like alot of the same things. I'm sure you would be quick to point that this is merely a STARTING place, and very seldom do you end up with the template you started with. What multiFX processor do you like? I love the DP4 (Ensoniq), the Korg A1, and the TC Fireworks, along with the old Roland DEP4. I really use a lot of chained efx.

Thrill, dead on. I did a mix a few days ago, where I started with the vocals, and was very happy the way it turned out. What do you feel you gain by always starting with vocals? I really agree with you, that trying to solve the big problems usually leads to a cool eye-opening discovery. That's funny isn't it?

Syra, if my ramblings haven't answered your question, let me know.

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