All Posts by Jon Wright

About the Author

As a graduate of MTSU with a degree in Audio Engineering and Technology Jon has been working as a full time mixer and engineer in Nashville. He loves running, writing, and all forms of entertainment. He also enjoys long walks on the beach with his wife.

Keeping Creativity Alive In Engineering (Part 1) – From An Engineer’s Journal – How Coffee Helps You Mix.

As an engineer/producer life is full of deadlines, scheduling, mix revisions, invoices, and details. These are all incredibly important things but getting “tied up” in them can lead to losing sight of why we started engineering in the first place. I’ve had many conversations about this topic with other professional engineers. So I thought I would take a couple blog posts to share some of the ways I, and other engineers, keep from getting bogged down by the details and remain creative and passionate about engineering and producing.

Take Short Frequent Breaks:

When I’m in the midst of a rather long process, whether it’s mixing, tuning, and even tracking, I make sure to work in regular short breaks. When mixing, editing, or tuning, my ears and mind need to be at their best to do their best work as efficiently as possible. And after hours upon hours of listening, to eventually reach the “point of diminishing returns.” This is the point at which actions are no longer making a big enough difference to justify taking them, largely because of fatigue. Reaching this point is exhausting and kills creativity. So take meaningful breaks, leave the room, get some fresh air outside, play a video game on a couch for 10 minutes, grab another cup of tea [or coffee if you must ;-)]. The idea is to take a break where you’re not thinking about the task you’re breaking from. And not listening to music helps as well. Just hit the reset button on your ears and brain so when you walk back in the room, you are ready to rock!

Try something new in each song/project you work on:

Many times I get so consumed with the task at hand I forget to try new things. It’s easy to just use your usual workflow and become complacent when it comes to trying new things. This is why I make a point to insert my creativity by trying something new each project, or song I mix. This can be a different reverb technique, a delay, some fun automation that you’ve never used before(or not for a long time), a filter effect. The possibilities are really endless. The idea is to make sure you spend some time being creative with the tools at hand. I like to set aside a specific amount of time for this about two thirds of the way through a mix. I’ll say, “for 30 minutes I’m working on . . .” and when the time is up, if I don’t like where my creativity is headed, or think doing it right will take more time than I want, I “save as” and move on. Some things I’ve done before are: Crazy delay’s, multiple reverbs(one for attack, another for decay), recording a vocal through a distorted guitar amp, building loops, distorting synths/strings, to name a few. So get your creative hats on and try something special on every project you work on!

Headed to L.A. for NAMM!

Kevin and I are headed to L.A. for NAMM later this month!

While there we’ll be checking out all the gear and meeting up with some seriously cool people. We’ll definitely be getting some cool video, podcasts, and blog posts to share with the world.

We’re also planning to meet up with any of our MixCoach Members who will be in the area between Jan 21st through Jan 27th.

If anyone wants to get in on the MixCoach Member Meet-Up click HERE.

Anyway, Kevin and I just wanted to let everyone know our plans for NAMM! We’ll be getting some really cool content for everyone and we hope to maybe even see you there!

– Jon

Where Are Your Mixing/Production Boundaries And Limitations? – From An Engineer’s Journal.


“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Elliot

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This is one of my favorite quotes. It’s full of ambition and life application. I apply it mostly to my running, but it has implications for most other aspects of life: business, pastimes, and even music and mixing.

Seeing as we’re on a site called MixCoach. For our purposes, I’ll stick to the musical aspects of this concept. (If you want to hear about how this applies in running for me personally, I’d be happy to share some other time and perhaps in a different venue)

Before we get into a deep conversation about finding limits, we need to first decide that finding our limits is something useful. The main reason I think it’s an admirable goal is that finding your own limitations is one of the best ways to grow and stretch those limits. If you don’t know what your current limits are, how can you expect to blow past them when the time comes? How can we achieve our full potential without first taking stock of our current position? See my point? Before we can go beyond the things holding us back and fully realize our goals and dreams we need to first determine where our limitations stand.

Ok so I’ll start off by applying this concept to musical performance. As a performer you honestly won’t know how far is “TOO” far, until you’ve surpassed it at least a few times. Think about some of the best performances you’ve seen/heard (live or on a recording), they push the limits, they try new things, they are in your face and unapologetic. They might even make you slightly uncomfortable, and step over the line into “that’s just too over the top for me”. But many times that’s exactly what makes them stand out. In the end, pushing the limits as a performer (potentially being “too over the top” every now and then) is far better than having a sub-par performance that oozes mediocrity.

This concept can also apply to mixing in a couple different ways: technically and globally.

The technical side of this concept is that, when using an EQ or compressor you can always back a threshold or gain setting off, but you really don’t know how far you can go until you’ve gone well over that line. So when compressing, squash it until it sounds like too much and then back it off. The same goes for EQ: go slightly too far with your boosts and cuts, and then back them off a bit from there. This approach is used worldwide amongst audio engineers. And while it’s not something emotionally charged or even personally fulfilling, it’s something that’s important to learn early on, because it will help you the rest of your career.

When considered as a global concept in mixing, the idea takes on a whole new meaning. Most people are comfortable mixing their favorite styles of music. It could be country, gospel, rock, metal, etc. But outside of their specific genre(s) they find themselves like a fish out of water. Give a rock guy (who’s used to mixing with less than 30 tracks) a song with a full orchestra in it (usually 100+ tracks) and he might just lose his mind for the first 30 minutes or more. But to be honest, after our rock mixer has gotten one or two songs with full orchestra under his belt, he’ll start feeling more confident in his abilities. And before you know it, his limitations are stretched. Before he mixed his first orchestra, he didn’t know that he could pull it off. He didn’t know his true limitations… Or even if he had any at all.

Another example would be, if you were the type of mixer that hadn’t ever tried to get a really huge, bombastic, rock drum sound how would you know if I could even do it? What’s your workflow for that sound? Or say you hadn’t done much with female vocalists, what’s your “go-to” vocal chain? So the next time a producer approaches you to mix his female pop singer (and “by the way” he wants a huge, bombastic, rock drum sound on one song) should you just say “well I’ve actually never done that before and don’t feel comfortable with it”? No. I would say “absolutely” and grab this opportunity by the horns. Go find and stretch some limits.

So in the end, what does all this mean? You should take this quote, put in your wallet, type it in your phone, stick it to your bathroom mirror, whatever, as long as you remember it every time you face something you’ve never faced before.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Elliot

So get out there and start blowing away your boundaries! You’ve got nothing to lose.

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Looking for a place to get mix training on all styles of music? Want to get involved with a community of experienced, professional engineers looking to improve and hone their skills by learning from each other?

Check out: www.MixCoach.com/Member

MixCoach Podcast 048 : “30 Plays in 30 Days” and Kevin’s “Instant Awesome” Vocal Preset

In this episode, Kevin and Jon talk about the MixCoach “30 Plays in 30 Days” video series that they have put together. They also discuss Kevin’s “Instant Awesome” preset for vocals. Check it out!

Question: Do you have a preset you use for “Instant Awesome?” Tell us about it in the comments below!

MixCoach Insider Episode 7 – (plus, how to make sure you’re never surprised by radio or a mastering engineer)

In this episode Kevin and I sat down in the local coffee shop and talked about a tip to make sure you’re never surprised by radio or a mastering engineer.

We also talked about Kevin’s Gordon Mote Interview, the new forum software, and some great forum topics!

Forum Topics: