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Author Topic: Mixoff Contest with Mike Senior - Win Mike's New Book!  (Read 123457 times)

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April 24, 2011, 01:45:58 PM
I did however feel that the arrangement was hugely lacking. No multi tracked guitars, nothing to build the sense of epicness that I sensed the guys wanting. And that lead part in the chorus robbed the song of the opportunity for a really strong hook. Plus some of the ideas clashed. The clean rhythm part in the chorus distracted from the bass, it would've been better just to layer some chords in and leave the bass it's own rhythmic space.

I agree completely.  If I was mixing the bands track for real, I would have urged them to go back and record more parts and get a better arrangement.

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April 24, 2011, 04:24:43 PM
Hi,

I know its late to hand in a mix for the competition but i was thinking that i post it here anyway just for fun so you guys can listen and give feedback if you want :).

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4384939/Mixoffrock.mp3

Nice song !

Cheers
« Last Edit: May 08, 2011, 05:10:42 PM by Mavro »

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April 27, 2011, 01:49:23 AM
Hi Guys,

    Just wanted to thank all of you for your efforts in this contest. I understand that anything creative rolled into a competition is bound to get a bit divisive but I just wanted to underline that we have and will continue to listen to more than the shortlist of submissions. Not giving anything away just yet but I wanted to be clear on that  :)

We've though quite a bit about some of the feedback on the track and I just wanted to post some experiences and thoughts. At the end of the day, this process sort of simulates working with a customer for you guys so here is some of our thinking -

I appreciate that there is a philosophical discussion about the levels of mixing versus fixing occurring. Looking at it from a band's perspective, we had a pile of tracks consolidated with some good performance bits and some not so great in B2B. We never recorded or arranged the track for analysis from over 70 mixers and would have perhaps been a little more vigilant in what we provided if we had known! This was taken from the first day of tracking we actually recorded as a band (ever) and I feel there is a level of roughness that reflects this.

While no band of our genre wants pristine mixes and Kanye autotuned vocals, I feel there is a happy medium between mixing and fixing. I think many mixers in the industry will now correct a note here and there to enable it's placement in the mix. How far should a mixer go? Thats a tough one. I don't want a "creative replacement" of a song to a drastic extent but I think I have to also respect the ears and talent of the mixer too. My preference as a vocalist would be to nail all tracks up front and after some very painful reflection via this process, I would probably re-record this track if i wasn't so horribly scarred by this discussion  ;D
 
But we have worked with two mixers on our EP and i want to share the customer experience with the different philosophies.
 
Mixer 1

Involved himself in the creative process, definitely fixed some issues, clearly added character to the mix and as a result we were thrilled. We smashed him with revisions and really collaborated on a balance between imperfections, character and polish. Did we take liberties with the fact the mixer was a perfectionist and passionate about getting a good result? Probably. The tracks aren't perfect but they now sound great and Mixer 1 has squeezed every bit of potential out of tracks that were not brilliantly recorded or perfectly performed. We knew the passion, message and delivery was there and we wanted the best from this. Thats the key for us.
 
Mixer 2

Was used for one track (Mixer 1 was unavailable). Mixer 2 is actually a US based pro who boasts a huge resume of working with grammy award winners. His online service was moderately priced, his samples were impressive and it was the best we could find - even if it pretty much killed our budget for the EP. But then - Mixer 2 returned a "level correction" mix. He offered us a tin can drum kit sound (because thats how it arrived), ignored the reference track (which was actually from Mixer 1) and generally sprayed flange all over the guitars ("I added some effects you see") and called it done. Nothing was corrected. Nothing was touched and perhaps, from a moral perspective, the mixer decided - "You give me a budget standard recording, I will give you a budget standard mix. It's too much of my time to do otherwise". He argued that the recording is what it is and he mixed it and this is the outcome.

Perhaps he is right. Perhaps we should re-record it at a higher priced studio and perhaps the track lacked quality. Perhaps all of the tracks lack quality.  But as a customer, it sounded like we got a 45 minute level fix and a clear avoidance of any great time investment or effort. Of course the track would sound better in a $1000 a day studio recording. Obviously! But we had just worked with Mixer 1 and had some new expectations  :)
 
I'm not saying this answers the "mix or fix" argument. But I will argue that the "mix and will fix" experience is much more pleasant than the "mix but won't fix" experience for a band. It's much better for a band and much worse for a mixer as I see it. But it is what it is.

This is the point of reference tracks in the process. It's not to say - emulate Abbey Road quality for us and we will give you junk. It's about tonal goals, fresh creative ears and there needs to be an honest upfront evaluation from a mixer. Maybe a mixer should feel free to say - "I can't give you these sounds guys". I think we would respect that - and we respect this feedback here on the forum. But I can assure you that Mixer 2 never said that. He mentioned that he was sorry we were unhappy with his mix and reminded us that there were no refunds (job done).

So my advice as both a happy and unhappy customer in recent months, is listen to the reference tracks and evaluate a track before you start. Mixing can bring out the best of a track - but it shouldn't recreate it. We also respect that there needs to be a decent track in there to work with. The mixer needs to feel a decent track is in there too - irrespective of taste. You can resolve imperfections but you can't completely overhaul a bad performance There is a creative balance in there and thats the collaboration a band needs. I guess it all starts and grows with that first conversation and the lines of acceptable effort need to be drawn up.

Cheers,

Mat
Young Griffo

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April 27, 2011, 04:08:24 AM
Mr Tuesday,

When I heard your revised mix, which included "the drop", I was like, he just punked my idea. The truth, howver, is that you made my "stunt" look silly in comparison. So props to you for that. When I heard it, I was like, "Damn, I can't beat that"...yet!! I will have my revenge lol

woops - it does look a bit like that doesn't it...
I hadn't actually listened to your mix (honestly) but obviously we had (almost exactly) the same idea about what that moment in the song needed!

MatG - great response & explanation to the mixing/fixing debate that's developed here.
Personally I've found the recent arguments a bit strange & have been tossing up whether to chime in or not.
I don't want to re-ignite things too much so I'll just make a couple of points:

a) if the song had been recorded perfectly, everything spot on timing & tuning, amazing sounding drums, awesome arrangement etc - it wouldn't have worked nearly as well for a mixing competition. Surely part of the idea was to see what people would do with less than perfect tracks?

b) in the brief for this competition it stated "you're completely free to use any means you wish to create your mix. So if you want to remove tracks, edit things around, do replacements/overdubs, or anything else, that's fine -- whatever it takes to deliver the most exciting mix you can and blow the band's socks off!". The band has said it's open to any and all ideas. If you don't like the ideas other mixes had or didn't want to add any yourself fine. But to say you shouldn't have to add/change anything when the brief clearly says you can seems a bit pointless.

c) on the mixing/fixing thing - I've never (yet) been in a position where there's a separate recording engineer, producer & mixer each with their own clearly defined roles. In my (limited) experience lines have always been blurred. As a mixer I can't help but get invested in the material & if I hear things that need fixing, or added, or chopped I would always suggest or try them. Obviously the client has the final say but I think in general people are open to ideas in the studio at any stage in the process - the whole fresh ears thing. Plus some ideas (or "gimmicks" as some have called them) could only happen at the mixing stage (no one's going to think of a reverse reverb re-entry in the rehearsal room for instance). I guess I'm just saying - if it sounds good it sound good, regardless of whose & when the idea came up.

Finally big thanks again to Mike - I don't think I can imagine what listening to & critiquing 70 mixes of the same song would be like! I think I listened to about 10 (plus Mike's "final five").
Plus thanks to the band - very generous & I think in the end quite brave to let everyone muck about with their song (I don't think I'd like 70 people commenting on my vocal performance & pitching!)

ok - i'm done

Cheers
Malcolm

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April 27, 2011, 06:33:39 PM
Hi Guys,

    Just wanted to thank all of you for your efforts in this contest. I understand that anything creative rolled into a competition is bound to get a bit divisive but I just wanted to underline that we have and will continue to listen to more than the shortlist of submissions. Not giving anything away just yet but I wanted to be clear on that  :)

We've though quite a bit about some of the feedback on the track and I just wanted to post some experiences and thoughts. At the end of the day, this process sort of simulates working with a customer for you guys so here is some of our thinking -

I appreciate that there is a philosophical discussion about the levels of mixing versus fixing occurring. Looking at it from a band's perspective, we had a pile of tracks consolidated with some good performance bits and some not so great in B2B. We never recorded or arranged the track for analysis from over 70 mixers and would have perhaps been a little more vigilant in what we provided if we had known! This was taken from the first day of tracking we actually recorded as a band (ever) and I feel there is a level of roughness that reflects this.

While no band of our genre wants pristine mixes and Kanye autotuned vocals, I feel there is a happy medium between mixing and fixing. I think many mixers in the industry will now correct a note here and there to enable it's placement in the mix. How far should a mixer go? Thats a tough one. I don't want a "creative replacement" of a song to a drastic extent but I think I have to also respect the ears and talent of the mixer too. My preference as a vocalist would be to nail all tracks up front and after some very painful reflection via this process, I would probably re-record this track if i wasn't so horribly scarred by this discussion  ;D
 
But we have worked with two mixers on our EP and i want to share the customer experience with the different philosophies.
 
Mixer 1

Involved himself in the creative process, definitely fixed some issues, clearly added character to the mix and as a result we were thrilled. We smashed him with revisions and really collaborated on a balance between imperfections, character and polish. Did we take liberties with the fact the mixer was a perfectionist and passionate about getting a good result? Probably. The tracks aren't perfect but they now sound great and Mixer 1 has squeezed every bit of potential out of tracks that were not brilliantly recorded or perfectly performed. We knew the passion, message and delivery was there and we wanted the best from this. Thats the key for us.
 
Mixer 2

Was used for one track (Mixer 1 was unavailable). Mixer 2 is actually a US based pro who boasts a huge resume of working with grammy award winners. His online service was moderately priced, his samples were impressive and it was the best we could find - even if it pretty much killed our budget for the EP. But then - Mixer 2 returned a "level correction" mix. He offered us a tin can drum kit sound (because thats how it arrived), ignored the reference track (which was actually from Mixer 1) and generally sprayed flange all over the guitars ("I added some effects you see") and called it done. Nothing was corrected. Nothing was touched and perhaps, from a moral perspective, the mixer decided - "You give me a budget standard recording, I will give you a budget standard mix. It's too much of my time to do otherwise". He argued that the recording is what it is and he mixed it and this is the outcome.

Perhaps he is right. Perhaps we should re-record it at a higher priced studio and perhaps the track lacked quality. Perhaps all of the tracks lack quality.  But as a customer, it sounded like we got a 45 minute level fix and a clear avoidance of any great time investment or effort. Of course the track would sound better in a $1000 a day studio recording. Obviously! But we had just worked with Mixer 1 and had some new expectations  :)
 
I'm not saying this answers the "mix or fix" argument. But I will argue that the "mix and will fix" experience is much more pleasant than the "mix but won't fix" experience for a band. It's much better for a band and much worse for a mixer as I see it. But it is what it is.

This is the point of reference tracks in the process. It's not to say - emulate Abbey Road quality for us and we will give you junk. It's about tonal goals, fresh creative ears and there needs to be an honest upfront evaluation from a mixer. Maybe a mixer should feel free to say - "I can't give you these sounds guys". I think we would respect that - and we respect this feedback here on the forum. But I can assure you that Mixer 2 never said that. He mentioned that he was sorry we were unhappy with his mix and reminded us that there were no refunds (job done).

So my advice as both a happy and unhappy customer in recent months, is listen to the reference tracks and evaluate a track before you start. Mixing can bring out the best of a track - but it shouldn't recreate it. We also respect that there needs to be a decent track in there to work with. The mixer needs to feel a decent track is in there too - irrespective of taste. You can resolve imperfections but you can't completely overhaul a bad performance There is a creative balance in there and thats the collaboration a band needs. I guess it all starts and grows with that first conversation and the lines of acceptable effort need to be drawn up.

Cheers,

Mat
Young Griffo

Great post that adds some great perspective.  Thanks for taking the time to chime in, and thanks again for letting us all butcher your tracks.

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April 28, 2011, 09:49:14 PM
I know Im way too late and really new to the forum but I just wanted to put this up here for everyone to listen to! Thanks!
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27635459/Final%20Blood%20To%20Bone.mp3
« Last Edit: April 29, 2011, 01:36:47 AM by carcruzjo »

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April 29, 2011, 12:13:10 PM
Hello everyone,

Quick update: I've just received preliminary feedback from the band, and it looks like we're on target to announce a winner on May 2nd as I'd hoped! In the meantime, though, I noticed that the poll has currently only had a dozen responses, and it'd be great to have a more representative sample of general opinion for the band to draw upon during the decision-making process if possible. If you've found the multitracks and critiques useful, then it'd be great if you were able to 'pay it forward' by giving the band this useful additional input. Thanks!

Stay tuned! ;D
Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio
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Free Mixing Resources On-line!

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April 30, 2011, 01:14:24 PM
Stay tuned! ;D

..Or maybe stay ' Melodyned ' would be more appropriate  ;D

CD
We never finish a mix - We simply abandon them.  Adam A7's , Focusrite Pro24 DSP, Focusrite LiquidMix, Presonus FaderPort, Sennheiser HD250 Linear II

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May 01, 2011, 06:37:29 AM
Here is my mix:
http://snd.sc/eyxZRK
Juerg

Can't download the track -- can you enable the download link please, Juerg? Thanks!


Hi Mike

Oupps. Thank you for checking.
(I did not see that pen to enable the download option in soundcloud) :(

But now, this link should work for public download.

http://soundcloud.com/search?q%5Bfulltext%5D=01+blood+to+bone

Best regards and greetings from Switzerland.
Juerg

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May 02, 2011, 06:24:37 PM
I think if we were going to have to defend ourselves (Young Griffo) as a band who were a band only months old on a shoestring budget at the time of recording this track, I may not have been so enthused to become involved with this.....  That being said, this appears to be (for the most part) a very open and supportive community and it's impressive to see how many people got involved and gave our song a crack to great effect.

As MatG said, in our short time together we've encountered a mixer who dove in head first and one that put it back on us.  Which one will we be recommending to our friends and using in the future ?  I also took the time to go back to the initial page and saw that re-arranging the track was ok to do for anyone that had an issue with any issue they had with what was there ?  There were no restrictions in this case (a luxury you will NEVER get unless it's your own work) and some people still found the time to complain.  That's a bit of a buzz kill for everyone.  You could have used that time to provide or better your mix in someway and have come a little closer to making the top 5, couldn't you ?

I've got recordings to my name recorded in unideal settings that have turned out just as good as ones recorded in overpriced settings. and the mixers are the ones to blame and thank for that.

I think for better or for worse, we live in an age where most things can be resolved with you guys.  Bands as a result are becoming increasingly lazy (I hope we don't fit into this catagory) and expecting more and more from you guys as mixers.  People have begun to prove that you can in fact polish a turd (I hope we don't fit in this one either).  To those that had certiain issues over things like the drums and vocals, I don't think we are one of those bands that require or go after an autotuned vocal and quantized drum sound.  Some of our favourite bands are a little loose and rough around the edges and sometimes that works.

I think finding the right balance between fixing and mixing and aligning that with your strengths and abilities and who you are working with is part of the artform and what has seperated the top 5 with those that had a whinge and moan about what was in front of them. I think some of you do this well without even thinking about it (perhaps you have utilised something that I hear is good for that sort of thing ha).  I'm not sure about your respective cities, but you'd often cop a lot worse than this if you worked with bands in ours !
Cheers guys and i'm so glad to see that many of you saw this as a really fruitful experience.  Toddy O (Young Griffo - Drums)