My first bad review

My first bad Amazon review

Since our book came out, I’ll have to be honest, I’ve been so humbled by your response to it.  I was pretty happy in knowing that Pro Tools 9: The Mixer’s toolkit has helped people from all over the world.

I read the reviews occasionally.  Today was one of those days.  But today was different.  I got a BAD review.

I’ll link to it here, but here’s and excerpt of what Personne said.  I just want to see if you guys agree or disagree.

The first third of this book is dedicated to rhythmically ‘correcting’ drums, basses and guitars. The authors seem to feel that the most important skill in the studio is to quantize nearly every note that’s played. This appears to be routinely necessary, when in fact it should only be done in very limited cases: when a group has disbanded or when the producer has a gun to your head. There seems to be little awareness that rhythmic feel comes from irregularity. Imagine the group ‘Cream’ without the enthusiastic ebb-and-flow (and slop) of Ginger Baker. The behind-the-beat singing of Sinatra is what made it swing. If a drummer needs that much fixing, he needs to be fired. Or the engineer needs to be fired.

Most of the remainder of the book seems dedicated to compressing every track in every way possible. Most experienced engineers lament this trend for the way it sucks the life out of contemporary mixes (if there’s any life in there to begin with). Compressors have been around for ages, but their relative scarcity meant that they were only used when there was a problem to fix. Now, with the advent of plugins, they can be slammed into every corner of a mix. ‘Can’ doesn’t mean ‘should’.

To their credit, the authors do spend some time talking about the importance of mono compatibility. They also go over the reasons why a great-sounding single track won’t sound good in a mix. They know the importance of working quickly with keyboard shortcuts. But their approach is a meat-grinder approach in which everything is treated the same–basically as rave room dance mix. The best mixers know how to mix for genre: a country mix sounds live and might carry some sense of the roadhouse. A prog rock mix might sound dreamy and a blues mix will be aggressively in your face. A jazz mix will be tight and crisp and a classical mix won’t even seem to be there at all. The focus of this book should be more clearly identified as “Making a garage guitar band sound like a MIDI sequence”.

So what should the aspiring mixer look for in a guidebook? Nearly all the great mixers I know have solid people skills. They sit down with the band and talk about previous mixes and favorite mixes by other bands. They make sure that they’re working to satisfy the desires of the clients–not to simply run them through a generic mix mill. A guidebook needs to talk about microphones and microphone placement (even if the mixer isn’t hanging mics herself), since those production choices can often significantly drive a mix. A guidebook needs to talk about mixing background vocals, horns, live pianos in a genre-appropriate way. And the guidebook needs to talk about a larger mix world. Mixing includes rock, country, commercial spots, television and film. Many skills, properly taught, can bridge multiple applications. For example, I lament the application of time correction in the second paragraph of this review. While questionable in music, it’s absolutely necessary in dialog-replacement (mixing for picture). Creating a sense of space by specific reverb choices and tasteful panning is the final bit of magic.

No one book can be all things to all readers. But it should be more respectful of the art than this one is. I hope there are better choices out there.

I respectfully replied this:

Hi Personne. I’m sorry you felt that way about the book. I really am. The sole purpose of this book (to me) was to help aspiring engineers (and pros who like to see other mixer’s workflows) make a band– theirs or their friend’s– sound better than they already are. I did this with the technology that is available in Pro Tools 9.

Also, if you are really interested in how to mix background vocals, horns, live pianos in genres such as Jazz and Big Band, I have all of that available in full-length tutorials that are very genre specific such as Orchestral Music, Jazz and Big Band, as well as Rock. Those videos are located at my website MixCoach dot com

I apologize if this book didn’t fit the “all-purpose” Pro Tools book that, in my opinion, rarely teaches anything specific about mixing. However, my mission is to help engineers reach their goals of becoming better at what they do… not just to please critics.

I would really love to have a conversation with you. If you’d like, you can reach me at mixcoach[dot]com/contact.

Hopefully, Personne will comment here and see that my heart really is to help aspiring engineers.

I realize that some (most) of you guys don’t own the book, but you know my heart because of the training that I offer on MixCoach.  If you agree with Personne, please do me a favor and let ME know so that I can improve what I do here.  However, if you’ve learned anything here at MixCoach and you are inclined to, you could leave a comment on Amazon.

This is exciting.

Kevin

8 comments

  1. Well… As my dad used to say, ‘you don’t need to kick and whine son, it was simply not for you… and that’s OK!’.

    Poor fellow! I really feel sorry for Personne 🙁

    I am one of the many followers of MixCoach, and we all know what Kevin is all about. Not only he offers top notch training, but he also makes himself available so we all can even contact him and have one on one interaction that no one else at his level offers (unless you PAY for it!).

    Seriously Personne, next time you decide to write a review like that, keep in mind that you could very easily mislead most people and that isn’t cool buddy.

    To see someone thrashing an excellent book and it’s authors and their efforts to put it together is very disrupting. Find yourself something else to do friend and… be happy!

    I tell you what…I’ll pray for you:-) It’ll be OK… Just don’t fool yourself again next time! Alright?

  2. I think Personne completly misses the point.
    The back of your book says the book is about taking a demo and processing it to make a radio-ready *modern* mix using the tools/techniques available in Pro Tools.
    The review should have been focused on this premise.
    Banging on about the recording techniques of 1968 Cream and jazz mixes is irrelevant.
    IMHO
    Alan

    1. Thanks Alan. I was hoping to hear from her about her review. I think she’s a “professional” reviewer with a couple of jaded friends in the music industry. She’s obviously never tried to actually help someone who is recording a record and seen how a book like “toolkit” can possibly help.

      Thanks for your feedback Alan

      KEvin

  3. I have to say that your response was very professional and very sincere (I would have answered differently). Many people love to to criticize other people’s work but do nothing to better it. I have actually purchased 2 books! I gave one as a present because the info in it is invaluable. I attended SAE Institute in N.Y and 30,000 dollars later i was left with a a little knowledge and not much of anything else. Thanks to people like you, Joe Guilder and Graham cochrane ( which were the reasons i found out about mixcoach), my mixes are tremendously improving. Your critic mentioned something about garage bands, well, most of us are not millionaire’s and most of our recordings ARE recorded in a garage. Keep doinf the work

  4. I have to say that your response was very professional and very sincere (I would have answered differently). Many people love to to criticize other people’s work but do nothing to better it. I have actually purchased 2 books! I gave one as a present because the info in it is invaluable. I attended SAE Institute in N.Y and 30,000 dollars later i was left with a a little knowledge and not much of anything else. Thanks to people like you, Joe Guilder and Graham cochrane (which were the reasons i found out about mixcoach), have helped my mixes tremendously. Keep doing what you’re doing Kevin cause WE really appreciate your hard work. When people do good their will always be people trying to criticise what they do! Poor critics!

  5. I arrive quite in delay, but I NEED to clearly say my
    opinion: Kevin is one of the best teacher I ever found! I don’t own
    the book, but I’ve bought both Rock and Jazz tutorials, that are
    simply GREAT! I learned A LOT from Kevin, especially from his
    approach, as I learned from Joe Gilder and Graham Cochrane (Graham
    was also so nice to write about my band:
    http://therecordingrevolution.com/2012/07/06/reader-spotlight-i-cugini-dungheria-cousins-of-hungary/)
    What Personne says …just speak for his skills! One of that guy
    that evidently doesn’t know very much about the argument and
    probably: 1) record “as hot as possible before clipping” 2) doesn’t
    use an HP to filter out low frequencies because if a sound is good
    alone, it has to be good also in a mix 3) doesn’t compress a track,
    because he doesn’t want to change the holy dynamic of the performer
    Kevin, people that have time to write so stupid things, probably
    has this time because is not recording/producing/mixing music….
    and I’m sad for them! Thank you again for all you taught me and for
    all I will learn in future from you! Merry Christmas, Simone
    HomeStudioRecording.it

    1. I love the video Simone!… and the recording is awesome.

      Thank you for your encouraging words about my teaching too…

      Merry Christmas to you and I hope you have a great new year!

      KEvin

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