It’s time to talk about something subtle that affects a lot of engineers. This one little problem can affect us all in our daily lives but when it comes to mixing, its effects are particularly damaging. That one problem is impatience.
I know that your biggest frustration might be with the fact that you don’t have a clear path or workflow to get the results you’re looking for, but I’d really like you to take a couple of seconds to ask yourself this simple question…
“Do I have a mixing system?“
If your answer is yes, then great! But do you stick to it religiously on every mix?
If your answer is no, then great! You’ve got something to learn.
By “mixing system” – I mean an approach you take on every mix. Yes, every mix is different but there are steps we take each time we mix that will be almost identical. In my opinion, your approach to mixing should be methodical for many reasons. Here are three:
- You’ll never skip an important step. Why start pulling up compressors when you haven’t set your gain stage?
- Your mix won’t fall apart outside of your studio. If you haven’t balanced your faders and set up a great “static mix” or “fader mix” and you’re messing around with EQ, you really risk losing balance and your mixes will not translate well to other systems.
- You’ll mix quicker. If you follow a methodical approach, you won’t have to go back and rebalance the faders because you didn’t set them up right in the first place. When you skip important steps and have to go back to re-do your work, you lose time. A systematic approach removes that problem.
We’re always trying to find shortcuts to skip ahead and get the results we want as quickly as possible.
While it’s admirable to work fast and I highly encourage you to do so, it makes a lot of sense to work fast within a system. The biggest shortcut you can apply to your mixing is to do things right from the start.
Having that urge to get to a finished mix as fast as possible is admirable but impatience has no place in mixing.
Now… what’s the right way?
Mixing is subjective and I firmly believe there really is no right or wrong way to mix. However, there are ways of getting to a finished mix in a quick, organised fashion. I’ve developed my own system over many years and it’s constantly evolving.
The right way to mix is within your system – that’s the way you’ve learned and adapted your mixing style as you learn more with experience, from other engineers, producers, musicians, courses etc.
How do you avoid mixing impatience?
Here are three steps you can take to start with:
- Use a system. Document your approach and build a checklist (even if it’s a mental checklist) of your mixing system.
- Mix when you’re fresh. I get tired and hangry (When you’re so hungry that a lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both). We all do. The quickest way to jack up a mix is to try mixing when you’re feeling tired, hungry, or both.
- Schedule your mixing time. If you haven’t blocked out the time in your calendar for mixing, then it doesn’t exist. You’re much more likely to actually get your mixes done if you schedule the time in your calendar. If you try squeezing your mixes in around work and Netflix time without the time blocked out in your calendar, you’re definitely going to be impatient and rush things so you can go watch ‘Stranger Things’.
Having a mixing system is very important for me and I feel it really should be for you too.
I really want to hear from you on this one, so please let me know…
What mixing system to do you use? What’s your approach and why do you use it?
Leave a comment below!
professional sounding mix every time…