Should I have my Songs Professionally Mixed?

It depends, if your band purchased a block of time in a local studio. You set up in a room, played a group of songs, four hours later, grab the recording engineers quick mix. looking to pass it out to club owners with the hope of getting a gig, then the answer is no. Club owners do not look for quality in demos, it is more about your band playing the music their customers like. They also like bands that work for short cash. In fact, club owners will spend more time reviewing your song list and picture than the music itself.

If you want to promote yourself and your original music, Or sell your work at gigs, stores, need radio quality mixes so your songs can be played on the radio then the answer is yes.

Why? What is the difference? (See my blog on Demo vs Record)

There are plenty of books with interviews of professional engineers who say the same thing, it takes about a day to mix a song assuming the tracks come in clean.

What does that mean?

It can easily take an hour or more to sort through the tracks, color-code them, label them, review them for quality issues and become familiar with the song. To understand what the artists’ intention is and how the arrangement and instruments impact the song. (Review my blog on competing frequencies)

What steps does a mix engineer take when providing songs that are ready for the airwaves, download or CD sales?

First: is editing, repairing any missed glitches, timing issues, tuning, removing dead spaces from the tracks, looking for overs or distortion plus labeling the sections of the song. Recording Engineers should watch for these issues and redo tracks, but sometime things just slip through. A good mix engineer will always keep an ear open for any such anomalies.

Second: is applying filters to control any unneeded frequencies and begin to set up a balance within the stereo panorama. Look at the space in the mix and determine where things fit best and have the greatest impact.

Third: at this point a static mix will begin to take place. The mix engineer starts to focus on the arrangement and how the tracks work together. The engineer will evaluate EQ and track levels as the static mix takes shape.

Fourth: what effects can enhance the tracks, add space to the mix, fatten things up and glue the tracks together. In addition to time based effects, line effects like compression, transient design tools, harmonic generators, distortion can all be used to enhance the tracks and get them to work together to produce a clear and powerful mix.

Fifth, Fine tune the mix to insure all tracks work well together. Make sure they do not fight or cancel each other out. This is the point the song begins to sound like a record. This is where a song takes on a life of its own, the intent of the artist becomes clear, and the emotion begins to translate to the listener.

Although not mentioned here vocals can take serious time to get right. (See my blog on reproducing Vocals vs. Instruments). More on this later.

Automation is another powerful tool mix engineers utilize. Usually performed as the last step in the process, automation can take as long to complete as the edit and static mix stages. This process insures the nuance of each part comes through.

Make no mistake the ability to mix at this level takes years to accomplish. It requires extensive knowledge of several areas including understanding frequencies, space enhancement, transient manipulation, dynamic range, psychoacoustics principals, proper operation of gear and software, plugins and a strong knowledge of the process of quantization. The techniques used in the production of today’s music are vast, ever changing and requires special attention to master.

Mixing is the most complicated process in the making of a hit record. It literally is the difference between a mediocre song and a hit. Sometimes major labels hire several mix engineers to mix a single song looking for that perfect balance and vision a good mix engineer can bring to a song.

As you can see there is a lot to it. This is not a process you complete in a couple of hours. It takes a lot of work.

If you are serious about your music and career, finding and working with a good mix engineer is essential to your success and well worth the effort. For more information and how we can make this process affordable send me a email.