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Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Hazer » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:24 pm

desmond wrote:
VOLOVIA wrote:It is usual to find one of the SOS 'boys' adding instrumental parts (I don't know, sub-bass on a weak bass guitar), but also much more radical steps such as cutting one of the guitars out in the first chorus, shortening the ending etc. Let alone fixing timings and tuning of everything...

There's a line between "mix decisions" and "production decisions" which every person has a different idea of what they think is or isn't their responsibility. Some mixers absolutely will not do anything to the track to change the arrangement, or to replace sounds - just what they can do on the mixer (of course, you *can* make arrangement changes on the mixer alone). Other people will do whatever they feel is necessary to make the track good, "commercial", or more pleasing to the artist. Andrew Scheps has talked quite a bit about this in various interviews etc.

All these things are judgement calls, and if in doubt, you'd probably want to check with the artist if you have an idea you think might be questionable - "Hey, is this ok to do...?"

But the bottom line is today, pretty much *every* job in the process of making a record is blurry and the edges and overlaps with other processes, particularly now that everyone has all the tools and budgets are lower and people have to do more jobs themselves. So I don't see any particular problem in articles that illustrate some problems that SOS readers might be facing, and talking through how they were dealt with...

This is actually what I experienced and I suppose not previously knowing how all this works I can now manage expectations. The guy seemed to do very little to it, I having no experience left the track dry and thought he would add some verbs and then EQ / compress etc using experience.
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Hazer » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:25 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:I think four hours is reasonable if it really is literally just a mix. As soon as you involve things like vocal tuning or timing correction then you're looking at a much longer time frame.

There were no vocals on it at all, just an EDM number no singing. Definitely can see how having to time/ tune vox would change matters
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Hazer » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:27 pm

CS70 wrote:Well said, Desmond. Which brings the question back to the OP... in

Hazer wrote:Just that I was quoted that time scale for a 20 stem mix and was wondering if it's a realistic proposition

it all depends on the meaning of "mix" that was quoted to him.

Honestly, 4 hrs seems very strange for a job from outside with tracks never seen before.
CLA famously does about a song a day, and even a musician's day is more than four hours.

In fact after I questioned the time frame the studio Manager said simply send an excerpt in and feel free to chat to one of the engineers, they are legit they've been in the area for years
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Hazer » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:32 pm

VOLOVIA wrote:With all the love and affection that I can muster for SOS, I think at least for the less experienced reader, a wrong impression is given by the remixed, or 'fixing tracks' articles.
Of course, they are great to read and most useful but they blur the difference between "mixing" (balancing tracks and improve the sounds, in essence) to full production.
It is usual to find one of the SOS 'boys' adding instrumental parts (I don't know, sub-bass on a weak bass guitar), but also much more radical steps such as cutting one of the guitars out in the first chorus, shortening the ending etc. Let alone fixing timings and tuning of everything...

Another potential problem for the mixing engineer is that nowadays most of us record the instruments 'dry to the bone' because "the sound will be made in the mix". It seems ideal, but this means a LOT of responsibility on the eng. shoulders to create, literally, a vocal sound, a guitar sound and so forth. Four hours?

Sure this is nothing new. When again we read about 'name' eng.s who worked on classic tracks, we read that they stripped the songs down, taken the rhythm guitar out, added a tambourine in the chorus, double the vocals, etc. (let alone getting a new drummer...).

So, what the 'amateur' recording artist (from his spare bedroom), such as me, nowadays looks at the mixing stage is at least to a co-producing role, hoping that the eng. will sort out his/her 5 tracks of clashing guitars and choose the best bits, i.e., producing it. Am I wrong? Of course, if then the engineer is called upon a kind of co-producing role, he is never going to get it right, unless as I wrote, s/he strips the song down and makes it sound like a TOP 10 records. In this case we are looking at 4 days work, not hours. And how much would you charge for that??

This is a great point, are we talking a pure mix of what's provided or a much more hands on approach making creative decisions changing stuff about.

I was personally just looking for a pure mix to just bring it together, add some clarity to it via EQ etc I really wasn't asking for anything more and the engineer certainly made no attempt to otherwise.
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby desmond » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:58 pm

Hazer wrote:This is actually what I experienced and I suppose not previously knowing how all this works I can now manage expectations. The guy seemed to do very little to it, I having no experience left the track dry and thought he would add some verbs and then EQ / compress etc using experience.

So did you communicate this, or did you just give the track to him as it was and let him get on with it?

If the latter, then likely the guy is listening to the rough mix as provided, and has taken that as the direction you wanted - in error in this case.

If you had said, for instance, "Ok, don't treat this as my best version of what I want, it's just raw and I've haven't added reverb and stuff, so make it sexy.." you might have had a different outcome.

I'm not sure I can blame to guy for listening to the rough mix and making the assumption that's where you wanted it to do - nor can I the length of time it takes. If you want it quicker, you could go to someone less in demand who would have less work on - they'd probably be able to turn it around quicker.

You might have to chalk this up as a learning experience, I'm afraid. Depending on how open the mixer is, I'd probably go back and explain the situation, why you were disappointed with the result and the reasons that it happened, how you aren't saying it's his fault or anything, just you didn't communicate what you wanted - and he might do another pass that's more in the ballpark, perhaps...
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Watchmaker » Thu Oct 01, 2020 2:57 am

Actually a great experience. Learn from it! :-)
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Hazer » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:57 am

desmond wrote:
Hazer wrote:This is actually what I experienced and I suppose not previously knowing how all this works I can now manage expectations. The guy seemed to do very little to it, I having no experience left the track dry and thought he would add some verbs and then EQ / compress etc using experience.

So did you communicate this, or did you just give the track to him as it was and let him get on with it?

If the latter, then likely the guy is listening to the rough mix as provided, and has taken that as the direction you wanted - in error in this case.

If you had said, for instance, "Ok, don't treat this as my best version of what I want, it's just raw and I've haven't added reverb and stuff, so make it sexy.." you might have had a different outcome.

I'm not sure I can blame to guy for listening to the rough mix and making the assumption that's where you wanted it to do - nor can I the length of time it takes. If you want it quicker, you could go to someone less in demand who would have less work on - they'd probably be able to turn it around quicker.

You might have to chalk this up as a learning experience, I'm afraid. Depending on how open the mixer is, I'd probably go back and explain the situation, why you were disappointed with the result and the reasons that it happened, how you aren't saying it's his fault or anything, just you didn't communicate what you wanted - and he might do another pass that's more in the ballpark, perhaps...

You know you are right, I did not communicate I kind of expected 'experienced guy, he will hear it and do his magic', and it did not happen straight away. But it really is a good learning experience and it will prevent any mishaps in the future!
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Hazer » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:58 am

Watchmaker wrote:Actually a great experience. Learn from it! :-)

Absolutely, and you know what over this time period some lyrics / vocals popped into my head as well for this track so it's a blessing in disguise :mrgreen:
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Oct 01, 2020 11:16 am

Depends on the material and your/their expectations.

I'd say it's optimistic. Possible, given good material, conventional instrumentation and song structure, and a good engineer who knows their go-to tools and who probably has a suitable template project for the style of music and instrumentation.

But you're talking the bare minimum time there. If you're after anything more than a basic balance, pan, compression, EQ and reverb job, I'd expect it to take at little longer. For some material a lot longer.

It shouldn't take days of work, though, even if you spread the mixing work out over days. As others have hinted, there's a reason our Mix Rescues have the 'Rescue' but in the name!

To me, the important questions here are:

Has the engineer heard your tracks?
Does the engineer understand your expectations?
Have you heard plenty of their work?
If so, do you like what they do?
Are you paying for the job, or paying for by the hour? (ie can costs creep up?)
Are any revisions covered in the fee (again, can costs creep up?)
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Oct 01, 2020 12:48 pm

If speed is really of the essence you could always hire Billy Decker... he claims to mix a track in 45 minutes!
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby desmond » Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:26 pm

Hazer wrote:You know you are right, I did not communicate I kind of expected 'experienced guy, he will hear it and do his magic', and it did not happen straight away. But it really is a good learning experience and it will prevent any mishaps in the future!

:thumbup:

The way to think about it is let's say someone you didn't know gave you a track to mix, with no context, or notes about what they wanted. *All* you have to go on is what you hear in their initial provided rough mix.

Now, let's say, there's no reverb, and the tracks are really up front and dry. You may be thinking "Whoa, that's not how *I* like a mix, I'd put loads of reverb on etc..." but then you're also going to think "Well, do I mix this the way *I* think it should sound? The band might *want* it dry and upfront, and by doing it my way, I'm changing the sound of the mix significantly".

So now you're in a quandary. Now, perhaps the mixer decides, from his/her experience, that for the most part, the way to go is be guided by the initially provided rough mix (which is what happened here). Or they might have decided "Hmm, I'm not sure what the artist wants, maybe I'll try to get in touch with them first and check" - which, if you're super busy, can make things drag on etc.

In general, it makes sense to provide the tracks, and a rough mix that sounds good to you - most mixers will listen to the rough mix to get a feel for what the artist was hearing at the time they thought it was good enough to put out to get mixed properly - it just helps them get into the mindspace of the artist and put you both on the same starting page of the project. (Although some mixers won't listen to a rough mix, they'll just put the faders up and start).

But yes, this is all part of learning how to better work with people. The more you leave the other person to assume what's in your head, the more likely you are to set yourself for disappointment. The more you can help them better understand what you're looking for, the more you're likely to both pull in the same desired direction...
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Re: Can you mix a song in 4 hours?

Postby Peevy » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:51 pm

Remember too Hazer that in the process of mixing whether it involves further production, editing etc or not, the mixer will usually need a couple of days or more of NOT listening to the mix to be able to come back to it with fresh ears and finish it off.
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