|For you folks on the Washington DC / Baltimore area, don’t for get about the Vocal Recording Master Class tomorrow May 11 at Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center
Despite running recording boot camps, workshops and consulting around the world, my day job is still making records. A huge part of that work is mixing records that have been recorded by other producers and engineers. Regardless of the style of music, the budgets, the country of origin, or even the level of experience, the one thing usually divides the great producer/engineers from the not so great ones, is that the great productions usually sound pretty darn good when all I have done is spent a couple minutes pushing up the faders and panning. There is something very important to learn from this.
It is important to remember what I said in the last paragraph, that this is something I find with almost any style of music, any budget, AND ANY LEVEL OF EXPERIENCE. The reason the great productions sound great is because they are great productions. The people recording have spent the time and energy to look at the big picture and understand how the various elements will work together in the end. It does not take a lot of money or experience to do this, just focused work.
When you are recording tracks you should always be thinking about how things will work together. Too many instruments in the same frequency range will actually make mixes sound smaller. Rhythmic elements that are not played tightly in the same groove will make mixes sound messier and have less punch and impact. Extra un-needed tracks will also steal detail and power from a mix.
When you think you are close to finished with a production try to do a quick mix without any kinds of effects on the tracks, using only level and panning. If the mix does not sound pretty darn good, look at what you can go back and fix at the source. Make sure the performances are great. If a virtual instrument is not working, go back to the VI and see if you can change the sample rather than try to fix the sound you have already chosen, and use the mixers secret weapon… see if you have tracks that you do not really need and delete tracks that are not absolutely necessary.
If you want your mixes to sound great, work like the great producers and make your tracks sound good before the mix.