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Author Topic: Zen and the Art of Mixing - Mixerman  (Read 7321 times)

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June 29, 2011, 05:26:38 PM
I got this book a while back, and enjoyed it, though I felt like it was more 'high level' than instruction, if that makes sense. Having read it again, I think it has some very good info, and the perspective on mixing is very instructive. The sections on dealing with clients are good, we've all had the experience of mixing with the client hovering, trying to get things sounding good, but feeling a bit limited in your ability to experiment as you might on your own.

I'd recommend this book for anyone doing this professionally, either on your own or with clients present. There are some great insights to the professional side of mixing, as well as some great thoughts on how to make a mix stand up and command your attention. This isn't the first time I've heard a pro say that great mixes are unbalanced, but not in a bad way. They emphasize the great bits, bring the cool little things out for the listener to hear, and bury or mute completely the unnecessary or less-than-stellar bits.

Check it out: Zen and the Art of Mixing by Mixerman
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 05:28:15 PM by JohnSuitcase »

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December 07, 2011, 11:38:44 AM
thnx for recommendation John!

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July 24, 2012, 03:39:36 PM
I haven't read the book but I have read about the author mixerman and it isn't very flattering.
Here is a link to Ethan Winers homepage. http://www.ethanwiner.com/mixerman.htm

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July 24, 2012, 03:58:43 PM
Interesting, I know MM has a reputation for not taking bad reviews well, but I hadn't seen these threads before. One thing that I agree with Ethan on is that MM insists that external summing is superior to ITB summing, which I don't agree with. I do have an external summing bus, but I haven't gotten shockingly better results (and the complications of working with it outweigh the benefits, if there are any.)

I like Ethan, but I sometimes feel like he piles it on a little thick with regard to room treatment, as well. It's his business, of course, but sometimes it feels a bit like that old saying 'When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.' He's smart, and his site has some good resources, of course!

Used to be that when someone asked how to get better mixes over at gearslutz, the answer was always better preamps, then better monitors, for a while everyone was excited about converters. Now it's 'treat your room'!

Nobody ever says 'keep practicing!' which I think is the real answer...


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July 24, 2012, 04:26:55 PM
Yes, "Mixerman"'s behaviour seems clearly out of place, but I've read lot's of statements by Ethan I cannot agree with as well. I think he made the claim somewhere that a soundblaster would be easily good enough for pro audio and differences to a more expensive converter inaudible. With converters especially there is this focus on a few typical measurements, while my (and many other peoples) ears hear differences despite more or less equal measurements in this regard, and in the recording and mixing process "stacking" tracks and heavily processing recorded material the behaviour is clearly different. So long as these signals don't null anywhere near the hearing threshold the claim that they are essentially equal is simply wrong.

I'm still not 100% sure about summing, but don't consider it the critical factor for staying mostly OTB whenever possible. One shouldn't make a religion out of it, or worse - a sales pitch.

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July 26, 2012, 09:05:19 PM
Interesting, I know MM has a reputation for not taking bad reviews well, but I hadn't seen these threads before. One thing that I agree with Ethan on is that MM insists that external summing is superior to ITB summing, which I don't agree with. I do have an external summing bus, but I haven't gotten shockingly better results (and the complications of working with it outweigh the benefits, if there are any.)

I like Ethan, but I sometimes feel like he piles it on a little thick with regard to room treatment, as well. It's his business, of course, but sometimes it feels a bit like that old saying 'When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.' He's smart, and his site has some good resources, of course!

Used to be that when someone asked how to get better mixes over at gearslutz, the answer was always better preamps, then better monitors, for a while everyone was excited about converters. Now it's 'treat your room'!

Nobody ever says 'keep practicing!' which I think is the real answer...


Totally agree. Wouldn't you say this is symptomatic of this world, the sound engineering world, having become more consumer oriented? One can't help feeling sometimes that there is a lot of hype and fuss being made about things which are not necessarily that important (I'm not saying room treatment is unimportant, mark); I've even heard people say that the audio production world of today is becoming increasingly like the hifi world. Anybody has any thought on the matter?
Cheers,
S.M.

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July 27, 2012, 06:36:53 AM
I agree, the more I read about different plug-ins and preamps, etc, and the more I've tried them, the more I see this influence. Of course, some preamps are quite colored and work best on some sources. But many of the modern opamp based models are essentially indistinguishable. Even if you can hear a slight difference in an A/B test, it's so small that you'd not be able to identify it out of context.

The same seems true of a lot of plug-ins. EQs in particular seem to often be just a different interface to the same algorithms, though there are a few that are considerably different (SonEQ is one I use a lot lately, that has a pretty distinctive tone.) The price difference between plugs that sound essentially the same is astounding, too. Valhalla Room is a great sounding, cheap reverb. I'd put it up against some of the $1000 and up reverbs, and I bet no one would no the difference, especially in a mix of a great song.

What drives me a little crazy is reading posts by guys spending big money to get 'the sound' when at the end of the day, the problem is their musicianship/engineering skills. If your song is bad, or the performance is weak, no amount of expensive gear is going to save it. If the song is great, and the performance powerful, the recording is not all that important. As long as the recording meets the basic goal of not getting in the way, you have something that listeners can relate to.

I'd go so far as to say that the whole industry is overly focused on trying to find recipes and formulas for success, it has sort of evolved into something that doesn't look at all like rock'n'roll. I'm rambling, but it seems like we all tend to get into navel-gazing, and it's easy to forget that at the end of the day, we're after an emotional connection between the artist and the listener. Nothing more, nothing less.

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July 27, 2012, 07:44:47 PM
Quote
Nobody ever says 'keep practicing!' which I think is the real answer...

Quote
If your song is bad, or the performance is weak, no amount of expensive gear is going to save it.

Back in the days you made a demo in a demo studio and if the song was good enough to get you a record deal you recorded your album in a professional studio.
Now? Every home studio try to get that professional studio sound and are willing to buy more hip gadgets. I think that home studios should still be just demo studios where the original musical ideas are the key part and you shouldn't need a specific tube pre amp for that.

Think how much better the Beatles' recordings would have been if they had used better cables. ::)

Quote
the audio production world of today is becoming increasingly like the hifi world.

And that is scary. You need these cables made of parallel higgs boson and are blessed in a moon light to get that perfect sound. :o

But aren't we now little off topic?

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November 07, 2012, 01:41:03 PM
I absolutely love this book. It really changed and helped me in the way I perceive a mix or a recording session or just dealing with clients and people in general.
There's no such thing as a cookbook with recipes on how one should add this or that ingredient in making a good mix, hence Mixerman's writings are gold IMHO.

Getting Zen and the art of Producing next month.