SHOULD I COMPARE MY MIX TO OTHER RECORDINGS OR JUST FOCUS ON MY OWN SOUND?
By Michael Laskow
As many of you know, I'm a retired engineer/producer. I used to get so many questions from members about engineering and production stuff that another TAXI staffer and I created "Studio Buddy -- The Home Recording Helper." It's a self-contained, easy to use database of recording tips designed specifically for people with home studios. If you find this article helpful, you should download the FREE program at:
Checking other recordings can be an extremely useful tool in the mix process. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Your mix will (hopefully) not exist in a vacuum when it's done. It will be heard before and after other songs by other artists, recorded and mixed in other studios. Certainly you want your work to stand up to records being purchased and played on the radio.
2. Even if certain factors - limited studio gear, your developing talent as an engineer, etc. - make it unrealistic that your mix will be as huge and impressive as the latest chart-topper, comparing your current mix with current hits can be both a reality check and inspiring. Your once thunderous drum kit suddenly seems small and tinny after a/b'ing with a favorite CD. Do you let this defeat your spirit? Or do you listen again, critically, until you can learn what the differences are between the mixes? Don't worry that getting into this habit will make you a mere imitator. Comparing mixes is just a fraction of what you do at the console.
3. Don't just compare to hit records. Use your own past work as a reality check. The deeper you go into the 'trees' of a mix, the harder it is to see the 'forest.' Every few hours, play an old mix of yours that you know is great. Even if you listen to only a minute or so, this practice will often reveal a flaw in your mix much faster than thinking about your mix really hard. Some engineers will place six of their favorite CD's - some current hits, some of their own work - by the CD player and have them playing continuously while they mix. Every time the tape is winding back to the top, they switch to the CD playback for 30 seconds, then go back to the mix. (Not as useful a habit when you're working on hard-disk.)
4. If you find yourself working in an unfamiliar studio, bringing along some of your past mixes and a few favorite CD's is an absolute must. How else can you learn the characteristics of the control room and make sure your mix leaves the studio as you intend it?
The information above came from "Studio Buddy -- The Home Recording Helper." It's a self-contained, easy to use database of recording tips designed specifically for people with home studios. If you find this article helpful, you should download the FREE program at:
This series of recording studio and sound engineering articles are being made available courtesy of our friends at Taxi. The articles aim to help you make better sounding recordings in your home or project studio and will be available here or online at Taxi, complete with pictures using the link at the end of the article or better still - sign up to receive Taxi's Newsletters FREE and get them delivered straight to your inbox!
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