029 MixCoach Minute-The Biggest mistake new mixers make

Want to know what I think is the biggest mistake or “deficit” new mixer’s have? Watch this MixCoach Minute!

Raw Transcript:

Kevin: Hey guys. It’s Kevin with MixCoach. This is another episode of the
MixCoach minute. This is actually a bonus episode. Stone and I were talking
after the last few episodes. We struck up another question that I wanted to
answer. Stone, ask away.

Stone: Kevin, this is a nice, short, and sweet one. What is the biggest
mistake that young mixers make?

Kevin: In my opinion, because I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of mixes now
come through MixCoach Member, the biggest and first mistake most young
mixers make is they overlook balance. They go straight to controlling
balance with a limiter or a compressor.

I have a member on MixCoach who came to me and wanted to know, “How can I
improve my mixes? I feel like I’m not improving?” We started back at the
beginning. I said, “Here is a mix that I know for a fact doesn’t need a lot
of plug-ins.” It’s the mix that we’re working on this month, Stone, called,
“Falling in Love With a Girl.”

I said, “I want you to mix this and I want you to send it back to me with
no plug-ins whatsoever. Not even a master fader. I want you to send me the
mix balanced the way you want it to be balanced.” What I found out was that
his balancing skills, they were at a deficit because he was so concerned
with using the plug-ins. It’s so easy to go to the plug-ins because you
want to know how those cool compressor sounds.

You hear Chris [inaudible 00:01:50] talking about his 11-76’s and the
Fairchild’s and things like that. What you have to do is realize that I
learned to mix, Chris learned to mix, and to put myself in the same
sentence with his is almost sacrilegious. Everybody my age and down, or up,
learned to mix with maybe two compressors total. We didn’t have unlimited
compressors.

So what you had to do was you had to put it down right first of all, but
you had to balance it. You had to make sure that the balance stayed balance
with your fingers and your automation, if you had the luxury of having
automation. I think what a lot of young mixers do today is they overlook
basic balance of tracks.

The reason I think of this is because you ask such great questions about
balance of drums. We didn’t talk about limiters and compressors, and
parallel compression, and things like that. We talked about balance of
drums. I told you how that it’s a moving target. It may be a less of a
moving target with limiters and compressors and things like that on drums.

One thing that gets overlooked that a lot of young mixers need to pay
attention to is get the blend right without any compressors, and then move
on from there. I think that minimalist mixing is probably something we’re
going to try next month on MixCoach Member where I’m just going to go ahead
and say it now.

Next month on MixCoach Member, we’re mixing a jazz song. Jazz songs don’t
typically need a lot of parallel compression and high PEQ. They need to be
balanced. The challenge next month on MixCoach Member is going to be one
channel strip per channel, if you need that, and one re-verb. There won’t
be stacking compressors even though that’s something that I have taught
before.

We’re going to get back to the basics of mixing and I think people are
going to realize on MixCoach Member, and whoever else participates, that
balancing is a critical piece of knowledge to know if you want to be a
great mixer.

Stone: Can I just say something? I really appreciate the invite. I have a
really dear friend of mine who actually was an engineer Abbey Roads when
the Beatles were making their records and [inaudible 00:04:20] some Paul
McCartney album stuff like that.

He always tells me, “When I was learning to be an engineer,” he would say,
“we were called balancing engineers.” He’d say, “Engineers we learned from
were still the type that came in with their white coats on, because they
saw it as a scientific thing. What we were doing was just balancing faders.
A mix was just a balance.”

Like you said, there was maybe a compressor or two around. A lot of the
records that he works on and a lot of the records from that whole era were
just about capturing in the recording, and then just a great balance.

Kevin: I couldn’t say it any better than that. That’s a great question,
Stone. Thank you for asking it. If you guys get a chance, if you want to
get involved in next month’s mix, it’s going to be a minimalist approach to
a mix. We’re going to mix a jazz song from a friend of mine. We’re going
mix with one channel strip, one EQ, and/or one compressor on each channel.
That’s if you need it. Then we’re going to see how much better the mixes
sound.

Check out MixCoach Member, and we’ll see you tomorrow.

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mistake, balance, MixCoach