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How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby Bwoodwardmusic » Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:49 pm

Hey guys,

Just out of interest was wondering how long (roughly) you think it takes you to mix a song from start to finish? Also other things such as..How often do you have breaks? At what stage and how frequently do you reference your mix to other songs? at what stage do you say "finished!" ?

Cheers,

Ben
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:22 pm

How long? As long as it takes. Just mixing some stuff for a pal and it's very badly recorded on the whole so takes hours and hours just to get it sounding ok before the actual 'mixing' proper starts. I reference right from the start: "WHat do you want this to sound like ideally?" and keep the reference track in my Logic project throughout. When is it finished? When it sounds like a record (or as near as I can get with my amateur skills) on lots of different speaker systems. Breaks doesn't apply to me as I'm an amateur and I break for my day job five days a week!
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby johnny h » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:02 pm

Bwoodwardmusic wrote:Hey guys,

Just out of interest was wondering how long (roughly) you think it takes you to mix a song from start to finish? Also other things such as..How often do you have breaks? At what stage and how frequently do you reference your mix to other songs? at what stage do you say "finished!" ?

Cheers,

Ben
You should have a break at least every hour for 5 to 10 minutes. You lose all perspective after a while.
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby hollowsun » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:16 pm

Bwoodwardmusic wrote:how long (roughly) you think it takes you to mix a song from start to finish?
Anything between 5 minutes to five hours to five days to five weeks. Kind of depends on the quality of the source recording. It's not unlike cooking - if you have good ingredients, you can knock something up in no time but if the ingredients are sub-standard, it can be a struggle.

Bwoodwardmusic wrote:Also other things such as..How often do you have breaks?
Can't speak for everyone but in my case, not often - once I am 'in the zone', I kind of just keep focused (that's ignoring lavatorial requirements, of course!).

That said, it's often good to walk away from the thing for a while and come back to it later. And the old 'cold light of day' test - how does it sound in the morning?

Bwoodwardmusic wrote:At what stage and how frequently do you reference your mix to other songs?
Me, now, rarely if ever. I've been doing this a LONG time, my place is now nicely equipped and I have certain 'practices' that allow me to achieve things fairly swiftly safe in the knowledge they will sound ok and transfer well.

You also have to consider 'song fatigue' - that is, listening to the same thing over and over again can cause you to tire of the thing, lose focus, focus on the wrong (maybe irrelevant) things and so on.

Bwoodwardmusic wrote:at what stage do you say "finished!" ?
Sometimes never. If you are pernickety, you might be - overall - happy with something but you will always find something you think could be improved. But you have to balance up practicality and pragmatism with pedantry - do you want to get your stuff out there or spend ages nudging the hi-hats up or down by 0.3dB for months on end in an anal spiral of nonsense!
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby The Elf » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:20 pm

There really is no answer!

I've done mixes that take two weeks, and I've done mixes that take 2 minutes. Songs can be one guy and a guitar, or two hundred tracks of multi-layered prog-rock excess. A song can be three minutes long with a verse, chorus and middle eight, or it can be 30 minutes with 12 Moog solos and an extended section of sound poetry and church organ.

When is a mix finished? When the artist says it is - and the reasons for that can be many...
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby hollowsun » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:32 pm

The Elf wrote:or it can be 30 minutes with 12 Moog solos and an extended section of sound poetry and church organ.
You're not mixing again for Rick Wakeman, are you? I did warn you about that last time!

The Elf wrote:When is a mix finished? When the artist says it is - and the reasons for that can be many...
Not least of which is that they don't have a f'k'n clue.

Something I learnt in my experience is never to mix with the band involved - the band members will each want more of themselves in the mix and that's before we even get to start on the tantrums of the prima donna vocalist!!!

I used to expel them from my control room if I was to do a mix and would present them with a fait accomplis the following morning... generally to their approval.

But my experience also shows that something rehearsed and played well and recorded 'properly' tends to mix itself. Not just that but, as I have said before, something musically arranged well. The biggest bastard is fighting conflicting frequencies where the guitar is fighting with the piano fighting with block chord strings or pads and backing vocals, whatever - nightmare! Orchestras have evolved such that that it's pretty much taken care of due to careful arrangement/orchestration and balance of instruments such that a well placed stereo pair of mics is often all that's required.
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby MarkOne » Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:23 pm

Having a deadline helps
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby Folderol » Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:30 pm

How long is a piece of string?

I've only ever mixed my own work and some collabs with other musicians. As such the mix and actual composition tend to merge somewhat.

The shortest time was a few hours - we wanted to get a fun song out quickly for a website maintainer who had just recovered the site from a total meltdown. The longest was about 20 years, and I'm still not totally happy with it

If I'm properly in the 'zone' I take minimal breaks so as not to interrupt the flow. I always listen again a day or two after I've finished. Finished means I and any collaborators are happy with it. It is hardly ever 'perfect' but then we don't usually think clinical perfection is a good thing.
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby Skerrick » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:12 am

honestly sometimes it takes a matter of hours as opposed to a few days, as my mixdowns get better i have engineers (like to use the same 1 or 2 for everything as they help with my general progression in the area) saying it will take less and less time to get the mix right each time i send them something,
depending on the quality of the original sound source/mixdown and how much effort was put into the tune, varies the amount of time it takes.

breaks are important; sometimes i work on writing a track/a mix down for WAYYY too long and i go to sleep and wake up the next day and have a geeze and all i can say to myself is WTF was i thinking?

most of the time i can write and produce a whole 4 to 8 minute tune in as little as 2 to 3 hours, but then i spend a week bouncing and listening over and over again and cross referencing and eq'ing/mixing down/adding/removing elements and automating things.

writing the music/creating the sounds is the easy part imho.

<3
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby MarkOne » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:00 pm

The Elf wrote:or it can be 30 minutes with 12 Moog solos and an extended section of sound poetry and church organ.

You been looking at the track list for my next album or something?
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Re: How long does it take you? and other questions.

Postby Jack Ruston » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:08 pm

It's a tricky question this. It really depends what you're starting off with. As others have said, it could be a really well recorded, simple track which requires very little intervention, or it could be hundreds of tracks needing a very 'produced' sound which doesn't exist in the tracking. Sometimes it could take a few hours just to sort through the sources and work out what's going on. You may spend a whole day just fixing the drums or tuning fifty vocal tracks or something equally awful. By the time you get to actually mixing, you're fried. And that's why the top guys don't do that stuff. Their assistants do all the prep, tuning, fixing, getting a basic balance etc. It could take days. The mixer then comes in fresh and gets the actually mix together.

For me, I'm slower than most, but I like the details. I will usually spend a day getting to a good place, and then another day fiddling and doing extra bits and pieces. I don't work long days when I mix though...six or seven hours usually, whereas tracking could be a lot longer. If it's simple it'll be done in a few hours and I'll just check it in the morning and then send it.

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