I was curious about the direction of some of the recent posts, so I finally took some time to listen carefully to the five final mixes. I'm left with some observations. Honestly, not meant as sour grapes, but more as a general query to Michael
1) if a band brought me these tracks and asked me to mix them, I could hardly expect to be taken seriously without tuning the horribly out of tune vocals, yet it appears that four of the five finalists didn't bother. Maybe in todays music the out of tune vocal adds to the angst of a guy who has tried so hard, yet still feels like a failure, but personally, I don't get it. So many really well done mixes submitted with tuned vocals that would be in my top five... just sayin'. So apparently skipping the vocal tuning and moving straight to the special effects and decisions about arrangement carries more weight in this "mixing contest". I think I understand some of the frustration now.
2) Michael seemed to pound home the importance of phase in many of his critiques, for which I'm thankful, because it made me try harder to get it right. Yet when I listen to a couple of these mixes and switch back and forth from stereo to mono, I hear entire parts drop out. Hmmmmmm. Better keep them off of AM radio stations. So is phase important or not? This is a serious question. Does everyone pay close attention to it when mixing or not? Are there mix gurus who do not care about phase issues when mixing?
3) Is the object of a mixing contest to master as well? When I prepare a mix for the M.E. I leave headroom, and I lay off the limiting and 2 buss compression. IMO the M.E. is better at it, has a better ear, and has more kick ass gear than I do. Let him bring it up to production level. So how do we compare mixes that have obviously been mastered with ones that have not?
4) Where did I leave my bottle of Jack?
Having posed these questions, which I think are fair, I would like to say that I am extremely grateful to you, Michael, for the incredible amount of time and effort you put into some seriously good critiques. Worth it's weight in gold, for me personally. I listened to most if not all mixes and read your feedback, and in most cases it was spot on good stuff. Very well thought out.
I'm a completely self taught noob at mixing, and never had any delusions about winning this thing, and frankly that is not the point of the whole process. I planned to buy your book from the beginning. I wish we had more of these, because for me, it's the only way I can better at mixing drums, or the "wall of guitars" mix that can get so dense.
So now that it comes down to voting, I feel exactly like I do every four years in November as I go to cast my vote for president. All my favorite candidates have already been eliminated by the press.