I ran across a very interesting conversation over at the Cakewalk Sonar forums yesterday. This thread talked about what a ‘pro’ mixer does when mixing. The very first question the guy was asked was ‘how attached are you to the sounds of the instruments?’ For most musicians / performers, that is a VERY surprising question. I was lucky enough in college to have been able to have studied some multi-track recording, and had a little bit of knowledge as to where this was coming from.
The reason for the question is that mixing instruments is different from getting that ‘perfect tone’ that performers try to seek out. One of the things that STILL TO THIS DAY stands out in my mind is seeing how a pro recording engineer added an acoustic guitar to a track. He recorded the guitar a couple of different way, then proceeded to throw out MOST of the frequencies! He mainly left the ‘sparkle’ or highs in the track. Soloed, the track sounded tinny and weak. When mixed into the song, the track sat perfectly, allowing one to hear the acoustic guitar, but the guitar didn’t dominate the track.
After reading that thread, I went back and played with a song I had recorded just for fun, Stone Temple Pilots “Plush”. This song went through a couple of different changes… Here are the three versions that I mixed over time. The first one was just the initial ‘recorded the guitar, and wanted to hear the playing’ mix. The second link is when I went and started adding EQs, compression, delays, and all the other studio tricks to make something sound ‘bigger’. The third mix was applying yesterday’s lessons. Also, I split out the drums to different tracks with different kits to get a better sound. The biggest change to the third mix was the applications of High and Low pass filters. I think that using these can be incredible tools to getting things to sit in a mix better!
I would love to know what people think, as mixing on a computer in a spare bedroom doesn’t usually translate well to the real world!