Aggressive Mixing

with industry Pro, Nick Batzdorf

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ernstinen
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Aggressive Mixing

Post by ernstinen » Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:41 pm

I've been listening to a lot of radio lately, current & oldies. What I'm not hearing anymore is "Aggressive Mixing." What does that mean!? The old adage about mixing is to hear EVERY part. Very true.But, in The Old Days, we used to mix manually with about 4 guys, 8 hands total on 8 faders. No automation, no auto compression. Do it right the first time. We would practice this over and over until we got it right.Why does that make it better? Because we had to DECIDE how loud a drum fill should be. How loud a guitar lick should sound vs. the rest of the band.Computers do this today (and I've got lots of them), but it doesn't make up for the immediate art of doing it in real time. To my ear, there are so many better analog mixes that sound so much better than these current digital mixes. Things just JUMP out at you because the artists decided that's how they wanted it to sound. A personal DECISION, not a circuit doing your job for you.End of rant.Ern

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Re: Aggressive Mixing

Post by nickbatzdorf » Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:59 am

It's an old rant: your hands are connected to your ears, and the console used to be a musical instrument.But I say the problem you're describing is simply bad mixing. Good mixers use automation creatively.

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Re: Aggressive Mixing

Post by matto » Wed Sep 20, 2006 5:36 am

I don't know Ern...first of all, the computer isn't doing the mixing for you, it's simply playing back the moves you made in the first place. You can also still mix the old fashioned way, all you need is a control surface, 3 friends, and the determination not to edit the automation data after it's been written. Personally I think my mixes have improved greatly with the advent of automation. 4 guys is about the max you could cram in front of a mixing desk in the olden days. Now I can have 20 virtual guys if I want to, moving faders, aux sends and returns, performing Eq sweeps, you name it. And the best thing is they all LISTEN TO ME and perform the moves according to MY vision, instead of secretly pushing up their own instrument when I'm not looking... matto

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Re: Aggressive Mixing

Post by aubreyz » Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:00 am

Automated mixing is not the enemy. It's the overuse of compression and then the "make it as loud as possible" mastering craze. The biggest difference in those great recordings of old and today's stuff is dynamic range. Today, everything is squashed to death to sound louder than the last CD that was spit out. Unfortunately, because just about everything is mastered this way, everybody else just falls in line so that their masters can "compete" with the rest of the mess out there. There are plenty of people complaining about this, but it's kind of like the government. Once it gets big enough the system has a life of its own and just continues to replicate itself.With so many of the consumers getting acclimated to crappy mp3's through little ear buds, I don't see much hope of things changing. Everyone is so used to distortion and squared off peaks, it is now the "right" way to master. AM & FM radio always squashed the heck out of everything anyway, now they are adding insult to injury because the masters are so slammed... its amazing how much distortion is now normal. Pull in just about any recent CD track to a DAW and there are so many zero’s in a row it will clip the channel. Many tracks you can actually see the squared clips in the waveform.My hope is when higher sample rates become economical and logistically feasible, we will get back to the land of dynamic range as the distortion will be more obvious.... but then again I am also hoping to win the lottery....

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Re: Aggressive Mixing

Post by spariam » Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:18 am

Quote:My hope is when higher sample rates become economical and logistically feasible, we will get back to the land of dynamic range as the distortion will be more obvious.... but then again I am also hoping to win the lottery....We can only hope (for both) "Is High-End Audio Still Viable In The Age Of Cheap Earbuds and MP3s" was the title of the latest (I think) "Fade Out" column in Recording Magazine. Joe Albano stated "As storage capacity and bandwidth for the online delivery of music inevitably increases (remember Moore's Law), the destructive data-compressions so popular as a matter of convenience today will eventually become less necessary, and there won't be much of a reason to dilute the quality of recordings; high-end audio will still be there when the smoke clears."

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Re: Aggressive Mixing

Post by ernstinen » Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:16 am

Quote:Automated mixing is not the enemy. It's the overuse of compression and then the "make it as loud as possible" mastering craze. Very true. I really wasn't talking about automation as much as compression, especially in mastering. No dynamics. If you look at a meter during playback of current CDs, the LEDs barely move. The mixes are so squashed that the excitement is squeezed out of the music.Now, if you listen to early Beatles' mixes, they did something similar, but it ENHANCED the excitement of the recording. They used some type of compressor on the vocals, and when the vocals stopped, the rhythm track immediately came forward, especially the drums/cymbals. Wow! Ern

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Re: Aggressive Mixing

Post by ernstinen » Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:57 am

I guess what I really miss is the camraderie of the 8-hands style of mixing. The goofing around. The drummer spilling beer on the VU meters. The fun, the food, the farts. But, I tell ya, when I'M producing, no one DARES to make their parts louder without my consent. Call me a dictator, but that's the law. Ern

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