All Posts by Kevin Ward

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MixCoach Podcast 111: Interview with David Stagl

This podcast is a little different than most of the MixCoach Podcasts.  It’s in depth and quite a bit longer than my regular podcasts.  Let me know what you think of the longer format.

In this episode, I get the opportunity to talk to David about the parallels of mixing in the studio and mixing Front Of House.

We also talk about:

The McGurk Effect
Heil PR22 vs. SM57 (you be the judge)
If you have questions, go to and leave us questions if you have them.
Also, if you’d like some cool files to mix to get the core of mixing under your belt, a GREAT place (in my humble opinion) is at
Thanks for listening


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MixCoach Podcast -110 Five Ways To Freshen Up Your Mixing

Sometimes when you’ve mixed a ton of songs and you have a system dialed in.. your mixes are consistently.. you may want to mix things up a bit (if you will forgive the pun).

In this podcast, Jon and I talk about ways to add some newness or freshness to your mixing workflow.  From expensive to free.

This podcast is brought to you by MixCoach Member where we completely solve the “style” scenario that we talk about in the episode.


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How 1,334 Bricks Can Improve Your Mix

Recently, Janna, Kaelyn and I and i decided to do an “expert” level Lego project.. just for fun…
They gave me a Lego replica of a 1962 Volkswagen Camper Van (the most affordable version of my dream car) for my birthday.
We were determined to do it all in one day… so we started putting our puzzle together shortly after breakfast. With only a few breaks, we finished it around 9 pm that night.
At the end of the day, we had something tangible – something we could hold in our hand to look at and admire…
This was different.  I felt accomplished. It was great.
So here are 3 things that I took away from putting together a 1,334 piece puzzle in just under 10 hours with 2 of my favorite people on the planet. Some thoughts are about the puzzle, some on mixing and life.
  • If you work with your brain, relax with your hands – One of my favorite pastors (Rick Warren) is a gardener.  He says that he spends most of his time thinking, studying and reading. So, to relax, he has a garden. I’ll have to say that the intensity of putting a puzzle together like this has given me a sense of accomplishment and well being that I haven’t experienced in a while.
  • You shouldn’t delay the payoff of a finished mix –  Get a mix to the point that you can print (at least the first version of it) as quickly as you can.  If you spend too much time on it, you will miss out on the tangible part of mixing.  If you stay inside the mix too long without the payoff of saying, “Here is my finished but improvable mix”, you may never finish the mix, or worse, lose your confidence.  The feeling of accomplishment I felt after completing the Lego puzzle was significant… your mixing should have the same payoff if you approach it right.
  • For some, it was a project, for others, it’s more – I went into this knowing that this could be one of those moments that a 6-year-old would remember for the rest of her life – so I tried to make it as enjoyable as i could… giving Kaelyn (and us) the license to do it wrong the first time.  I hope we built the confidence that sometimes, only doing it wrong the first time can do.
Here is the finished project.
MixCoach Lego project
MixCoach Lego Project
MixCoach Lego Project

Sales Skills For Introverted Audio Engineers

Sales Skills For Introverted Audio Engineers

To a certain extent, all of us engineers are actually a little introverted, right?  I mean we sit in a darkened room in our spare time and work on balancing, eq’ing, and compressing songs while everyone else has gone to bed.
So how do you now SELL the skill that you’ve been working on in your pajamas for so long? It’s not that easy right?
I just watched a Chase Jarvis YouTube video (check him out – he’s rated PG though) and he gave some advice the I thought was helpful for me and it might be helpful for you too.
When you are at a gathering, a party, or just around someone you don’t know, here are a few things he says to do before you try and “sell” your skill.

1. Break The Ice

You have to get the person you are talking to to talk about themselves – This is the subject THEY are the most comfortable with.  Some sample questions you can ask is for them to tell a story about … whatever…. “tell me how you got here tonight”,  “so you are into music.. tell me how you got into music”… just get them talking about themselves.

2. Be Interested

Be interested in what they are saying – Smile and listen. Don’t be creepy though. In order to be Interesting you have to be Interested

3. The Triple Nod

Chase talked about a method he learned from Vanessa Van Edwards on her talk about body language.  All you do is tilt your head sideways and nod three times when someone is finishing up a statement.  He says it’s freaky how predictable the result is… the person keeps talking.  So if you are really interested in what they are saying (step 2) then you will definitely hear a connection point that you can use in the next step

4. Tie their story to your skill

At some point in the conversation, the person you are talking to will ask you “So what do YOU do?”  If you’ve done things right, you will know exactly how to loop what YOU do into what they do.  Be careful here though, you don’t switch into salesman mode. You are still trying to see if what you do and what they do will mesh.  If it will, tell them you’d love to help.

Every amount of work I have ever done has begun from a relationship. The steps that are listed above will help to build relationships. Go build relationships.  It will serve you well.

What’s The difference In Mixing And Mastering

I had a very good question came to me through email the other day.  It’s a question I hear pretty often.

“What’s the difference in mixing and mastering?”

Here was my reply.

Mixing is taking all of the individual tracks (individual drums, guitars, vocals, background vocals etc) and crafting a blend using eq, panning, compression etc…

Usually, after it’s mixed, I’ll send my stereo “mix” to a mastering engineer.  He then takes my mix and listens to it on more expensive monitors in a (hopefully) better designed room and makes tweaks to it.

Of course, I wouldn’t send it to just anyone… it would have to be someone I trust to do that sort of thing..

Sadly, what most mastering engineers do is just make a mix louder… and that sometimes comes at the expense of the balance, eq and compression choices that I made in the mix phase.

Hope that helps.

After sending this, I thought that mixing and mastering could be like:

  • Painting a car vs detailing a car (that would include buffing and pinstriping paint)
  • Building a house vs staging a house for potential buyers
  • Writing a book vs. editing a book (both important)

What are some other comparisons you can think of? Comment Below

MixCoach Podcast 108 – Best Plugin Choices with Joe Carrell

In this episode of the podcast, Kevin Ward and Joe Carrell talk about plugins.  With so many plugin choices out there, which is the absolute best to purchase. 

Have you ever NOT mixed a song because you didn’t think you had the right plugin for the job?  Joe has some insight to help you over that hump… and the solution is much less expensive than you think.

This podcast brought to you by:

MixCoach Member


The MixCoach Experience Weekend

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Step by Step Mixing – Check out this book

I’ve recently become acquainted with Bjorgvin Benediktsson over at The more I get to know him, the more I admire his work ethic and skills.

We chat about every week and recently, I found out that he has written a book called “Step By Step Mixing – Quality Mixes With Only 5 Plugins”.

As soon as I heard “5 Plugins”, I knew I needed to take a look.

See, I don’t believe that you need every plugin in existence to be able to get a mix right.  I believe that you should find plugins that you can get to know and get the most out of them.

Here’s a short excerpt from his book. You will probably hear some things that I teach like 80/20… and mix A LOT… totally agree with Bjorgvin here.

A Note About Mixing

Mixing is a very subjective concept. There are a lot of variations of a “good” mix. A mix you pay $200 for and a mix you pay $400 for (or even $4000) isn’t always double the quality. It has to do with the experience of the mixing engineer, how in-demand their services are, and their willingness to work within whatever budget you have.

In addition, mixing is also hard to teach because each song is different and poses different challenges. In the following pages I will be giving you my “80/20 rules” for mixing. It’s all about what you should focus on the most in order to get the biggest wins. Therefore, I hope to cover the biggest subjects so you can go mix your own music with confidence.

Remember, mixing skills grow from practice, not from reading books (ironically enough…) so I encourage you to mix as much music as you can in order to improve your skills. I’m certainly not the best mixing engineer in the world. Sometimes I don’t even think I’m that good, but that’s more the everlasting presence of the “imposter syndrome” and my neurotic insecurity than actual lack of skill. However, I do know enough to teach you the things to focus on and the mistakes to avoid. I’m constantly learning with every new production and you should as well.

So read this book with an emphasis on keeping the big ideas in mind and trying everything out on as many multi-tracks as you can get your hands on.

Here’s another thing that may sound familiar… so I’m glad he’s backing it up by saying that he mixes in mono for the first few HOURS of his mix.

Check this out.

Mixing In Mono

Mixing in mono is an important part of the mixing process. Personally, I start my mix and mix almost entirely in mono on a one-driver Mixcube for the first few hours until I have a rough mix in place. If you can make your mix sound good in mono on a Mixcube then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good it sounds when you finally flip it into stereo and push it through your better sounding studio monitors.

It’s kind of like athletes that run with weights on their feet. They make it deliberately hard for them to train and give themselves an uphill struggle to begin with so that when the weights are off everything feels easier. So basically, if you can make your mix sound awesome in mono on a Mixcube it’ll usually sound awesome everywhere else.

Bjorgvin’s book is going to be amazing.  I can’t wait for it to come out.

To find his book (in physical form or Kindle) you can click here <–my Amazon Link or just go to Amazon and search for Step By Step Mixing: How to Create Great Mixes Using Only 5 Plug-ins.

I think you’ll love the way he covers the subject of mixing…

MixCoach Podcast 106: Keith Thomas interview

It’s funny how perfection can keep you from doing things.  Last week, I think I named the podcast the wrong episode.  So THIS episode is 106… I think

Also, I did this interview with Keith Thomas back several years ago and just never got around to releasing it because I wanted it to be perfect.

Anyway, In this episode of the podcast, I interview one of my big musical influences. We talk about how one of his High School teachers literally turned his life around and is still influencing the way Keith produces hit records today.

Here are some of the things we talk about in this show:


Keith’s doppleganger – 

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