I love to see a clean mix on my screen. I’ll admit I have a bit of OCD in this regard. People may question to whether it makes any difference to the quality of the mix and sometimes it probably doesn’t, but if it makes me feel like I am improving the mix, then can this really be a bad thing?
If you are working for a client and they are paying a set fee, then to make your business efficient and profitable, you really want to reduce the amount of time you spend on a mix. You want to find a balance between quality and time spent.
If you don’t have an OCD problem like me and you are just looking for advice on what sort of editing and what level of editing you should be doing, then I am going to give you my ideas. Keep in mind that while you might not always hear an obvious difference, it’s all the little improvements and the little moves in a mix that all add up to the quality you are trying for.
When I first started mixing, my approach was to get in there and edit every track individually and make everything look perfect and organized. This was before I even listened to the song. Once I started to work with clients I realized that this was inefficient and a lot of unnecessary time was spent editing things that maybe didn’t need to be.
So I adapted my process to concentrate on what was beneficial and what was going to stand out to the client. I now start by listening to the mix, getting the levels right, doing the EQ, compression, effects etc. I basically do the mix from start to finish without any real editing. I will takes notes as I go to anything that is obvious that I need to edit or clean up.
Once I am happy with my mix then I make decisions on what I need to fix and clean up. The common things I like to fix are pitch correction, timing issues, pops, clicks, ground hum, drum bleed, mouth noises, vocal breath and any other bad noises that make the mix sound less professional.
The style of song and the sound I am going for will determine the amount of Pitch Correction I use, if I use any at all. I generally ask a few questions of the artist around this topic as well to get their feel and opinion on the use of Pitch Correction. I have had artists that like to keep their natural variance in pitch on their vocals. I have also had artists at the other extreme, where the Pitch Correction is so heavy that you get that robotic effect.
For most songs I might put just the tiniest amount of pitch correction on, just to keep the vocals as close to the key as possible without being noticeable. Again I base this on listening. If I feel after listening to the song that the vocals sound great, then I don’t apply any Pitch Correction at all.
Stay tuned for Cleaning up your Mix Part 2 where I will continue to talk about the specific cleanup tasks that you can use to improve your mixes.
If you are after more recording, mixing and mastering tips or are looking for songs to practice mixing, then head on over to the MixCoach Member website.
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