How To Work Faster and Mix More Artistically…

After one of my recent Mixing Tutorial videos for MixCoach Member, one of our awesome members mentioned my fast paced workflow and decision making process. He asked how I work so quickly. This got me thinking back on my mixing journey, about how when I first started out, I would get bogged down by very small details early in my mixing process. This would keep me working in circles until my ears were of no more use to me than a bear with a tractor.

After bumbling around like this I found that the best solution to keep me moving early on in a mix was “delaying details”. I try to focus on the big picture mix decisions and make them early. Global things like “intimacy,” “artistic direction,” “featured instruments,” and “ambience”, I decide on very early. I leave smaller details, till the end.

This is because deciding on the big things fast and early allows me to keep them in focus throughout the entire mixing process. It also allows me to make the biggest decisions when my ears (and mind) are fresh. Then because I made the global choices earlier, many of the small details… like the final fade, small vocal edits, small automated rides, plug-in automation, etc…  are already determined for me by the big decisions I’ve made. For example, if I decided I want the song to be close and intimate, I know I need the vocal pretty dry and close… no additional thoughts required when it comes to “which reverb do I want on the vocal?”

Making those big choices early is sometimes hard because as an artist (even a technically oriented one) you don’t want to “paint (or mix) yourself into a corner”… but to be honest, the more defined those global things are in your mix, the more people will connect with it, and the more they will get out of your art (mix) at the end of the day.

Not getting “stuck” on decisions that seem “hard” is something that is necessary to be productive… If you can’t decide on something quickly, leave it till later when you’ve solved some other issues and refined the mix more. Don’t chase your tail while mixing. Sometimes I can tackle seemingly insurmountable obstacles… and sometime I need to move on and refine other areas first. But regardless I always try to make the big, global decisions early.

It’s the focus that comes from making big decisions early that will really help to make your art the best it can be. You can take care of those pesky details later… it’s the last 10% of the mix… so I don’t think about most of them till then. 🙂

About The Author

Jon Wright

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.

11 Comments

  • Tassy Sandor

    Reply Reply June 3, 2013

    Hi Jon
    Your quick decisions I also mentioned some times and like to learn from.
    May be interesting to mention that I watch your walk-through sometimes 3 – 4 times from different points of view. I spend more time not on details of the song in question but to get a general idea how to build up a project for mixing, what is important, what is it when you say “I’ll come back to it later..”, how to group and what, what are the plugins and adjustings that seem to be appear in each of your mixing tutorials regardless on the song in question, etc, etc a lot of little “workflow” matters:)
    I am sure that this quick-decion-making can and should be acquired.
    We simply must consider and practice it also a bit separately like we want to master how to use our favorite compressor or EQ.
    Thanks for making us familiar with all these
    Tassy

    • Jon Wright

      Reply Reply June 3, 2013

      Tassy! Absolutely sir… you nailed it. Taking the time to purposefully learn what to focus on and what to move on from. When to deal with different issues, when to pass on them, etc.

      Sometimes I’ll even get part of the way into a mix and say to myself, “Let me set this aside and come back tomorrow.” Then I just move on to other things… and inevitably when I come back to the mix, my head is clear and I have the ability to overcome the obstacle I had run into previously.

      It took me years to get to the point where I now know what to tackle when, as well as when to say, “let me come back to that later.” By getting good solid advice from the Pros everyone can learn much faster and maybe take off some of the years it took me to learn. 🙂

  • MattButler

    Reply Reply June 3, 2013

    Love the photo Jon. Is that the B room at Sound Emporium?

  • Rohan Kay

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Thank you Jon for this article! I love the attitude – go big picture first. That works for me and it’s something to always be mindful of. To be honest, some of the little tasks can be a chore. But when you’ve got the ‘mix buzz’ going on (as I call it) – because you do the music stuff first – the little stuff just glides by. Great advice. Thanks!

  • Stone Walters

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Great advice/article Jon!

  • RichardNolan

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Very good points, direction starts from one point and ends at another, where you begin shapes the rest of your journey.

  • Scott McCollom

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Hi Jon,
    That’s some great advice, and something that I plan to try to put into use on the June mix you have for us.

    I’ve really enjoyed learning from you guys, and love the community here at MixCoach. I’m so glad I joined. 🙂

  • Kern

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Great advice. Now, onto todays session!

  • Laszlo Galosi

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Oh yes I was who pointed this out on the Glorious day walkhtrough, because I tended to stuck on small details, as reverb settings not perfect, compression or eq. This is a great advice, I was learning this the hard way, I had to remove the “thinking” instead focusing on the big picture and listening while I’m mixing.

  • Bill McDonald

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    Thanks Jon for the info, you always give great advice and this artical was very informative. I know formyself I sometimes get bogged down by the little things which in the end begin to become bigger . thanks again Bill McDonald

  • Joseph Piccione

    Reply Reply June 9, 2013

    Thanks Jon – always great stuff! I think establishing the most important elements during the static mix phase has help my personal work flow greatly. Some of the biggest decisions made are during this time for me.
    Thanks again for sharing this article. ~ Joseph

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