mixing fashion blog

Mixing fashion blog pt.4

For those of you unaware of the premise of my mixing fashion blog it is basically a rant I let myself do every once in a while. Mixing is such a solitary process and I don't like posting on forums so this is my only opportunity to talk about what I spend 90% of my time on this planet doing. If you are an aspiring producer or audio engineer don't take everything I say as gospel, it is massively opinionated and perhaps only relevant to my work. You may find it helpful, I know I love hearing little tips and tricks from other producers so try some of this stuff out, it might just work for you. Mixing fashion to me means the trends of mixing. An obvious trend would be in the 60s, people went crazy with stereo imaging because it had just been invented. I heard a track by The Doors the other day that had bass panned left and drums panned right or something. Occasionally I notice cool trends in modern production and I post them here along with things which I am doing and also maybe a bit of updates to what I am currently working on in the studio.

I've just realised that this blog successfully demonstrates how frequently my mind oscillates regarding production aspects. Tastes are capricious and so fashions are by their very nature.

It's hard to change your techniques when you're producing good results and your mixes are getting near perfection. You have to though. If you don't change your approach you'll go crazy and start producing gash work anyway. I've been considering fucking shit up just for the sake of it.

Make hardly any EQ changes. Better to get tracks that are good at the source. Noobs seem to think that the right EQ can fix any situation, unfortunately it definitely can't. When you're starting out you don't want to face the reality that you will have to spend a hell of a lot of money to get a sound that is truly professional. Unfortunately that is just the way the world works.

Quiet RMS levels are in. Lots of recent albums i've noticed have been hitting -10.5 or -11 RMS. My theory for this is that iTunes recently advised mastering engineers to leave a decibel of headroom. It seems like the loudness war is finally over.

Cut 2.5k - especially in guitars This streamlines your guitar's mix presence and your vocals stick out more. Cool. 2-5k is for vocal intelligibility anyway. There is little need for anything much else here - feel free to EQ or MB comp out these areas for increased vocal prominence.

Don't EQ vocal mids. Only add high shelf. Compress and de-ess heavily of course.

Sansamp Bass Driver DI is in.


Pultec EQ on Kick is in. Try it on room too. Super awesome. 30cps setting is my fav. Also, mad props to Patrick Ultec for saying cps (cycles per second) instead of hz; you have truly raised the bar in pretentious wankerness. I once again salute you.

I've been working a lot recently on the new Sharky Sharky EP 'Party Under the Sea'. I'm relatively happy how it turned out although there are some big differences between this EP and the last one. Notably i've gone for a heavier sound - guitar amps are Bogner Uberschall and Peavey 6505 instead of Laney and Mesa. Room mics are Pultec boosted a lot. All in all it just sounds more metal. Probably a bit too metal for a record aimed at children but I feel it has it's merits and as a producer it is one of my liberties to break the rules slightly. Real bass on this record too - very nice sound from the Stingray through the Sansamp Bass driver DI - again quite metal but not overbearingly so. I believe it is a very enjoyable record to listen to.
I also chose not to reign in the vocals in the harsh hi mids this time. Not sure whether I stand by that decision but it felt right at the time. Ricki Carnie is an awesome powerful singer and I wanted to unleash all of that energy - even if it can be a bit overbearing in the E vowels sometimes.
My only regret of this project is not recording real drums. I tried my very hardest to make it happen but basically the drummer boy wasn't enthusiastic enough to actually learn the songs and, well, i don't have the patience to sit around waiting for 6 months. The only thing that gives it away is the cymbal samples - I use Slate drums for the whole kit and although the samples have their merits - I have to say the cymbals are pretty dire and don't really gel in the mix with the guitars like a real kit would. As a result you have to turn them down a bit, which I don't really like doing - especially after i've been listening to Amaranthe - who have super prominent cymbals and hats.

Next on the chopping block is the Sharky Sharky album - a lighter guitar sound is a must - I'm possibly looking to try Michael Wagner's new kemper profiles when they're released.
Also real drums will be a must for sure. I'll probably try and create a bigger stereo image too - it's something i've always tried to do but i think i'll really try and push the boat out this time. Maybe double tracking keyboard parts is the way forward. I'll report back when I know more.


Ed Man


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