Before a mix

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Member Since: Apr 28, 2008

Hey all I was looking for suggestions. What are some things you might bring up with the band before you start their mix. Maybe some things you talk about so your all on the same page come mix time to avoid unecessary delays or remixes.

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Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Apr 28, 2008 10:54 pm

I will always try to find out exactly what direction they want to head in. A particular sound they might be looking for or feel. I will generally listen to them play before I even ask any questions. But lately for me that is easy as most of my work is via the net so it makes it pretty easy. They have to send me some of their work or at least a rough draft of something.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Apr 29, 2008 07:08 am

from my experience delays occur alot of times due to the band members one or all not knowing their parts 100%

even when people say they know the song before they get to the studio, often discrepancies come up and they spend too much time trying to learn it there and then. then of course the feel can then be lacking.

its a touchy subject though i guess.
i would suggest the band to play the song a few times and really have a good listen to see or hear if anything is even slightly off. way before studio time is booked.

not that im studio expert but i've been invovled with lots of bands and seen this happen a fair bit. sometimes they dont even know its happened till they are out of studio time.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Apr 29, 2008 08:30 am

If they're mostly a jam / performance group, then there's a high possibility that they've not really tracked in a studio before.

They'll probably want to track all parts together. Or at least drums / guit / bass.

They should know each of their parts / the whole song EXACTLY. This allows them to play without hesitancy, and you can track quicker, and mix way faster later.

I guess I'm just agreeing with what Deon says. Don't waste time getting all set up, and then have them spend an hour trying to figure out what part goes after the bridge, or how many time X part is played third time through, etc.

Don't let people get the 'fix it in the mix' mentality. The project will suffer. Get good parts.

This brings up the topic of producer. I'm assuming you're new to this, so probably haven't seen the producer angle. Producer sits over the tracking engineer's shoulder, and says what's good enough and what's not. And everybody has to listen =).

If there's nobody 'in charge' of the project, saying what is good enough, then you may get tracks that aren't good enough. Even though you knew they weren't good enough. The band may track something 4 times, and say 'good enough, comp them together in mix'. This may be the only route, but should really be avoided if you can. Someone has got to be the heavy, and say 'do it again, but correctly' =).

Figure out before hand what should happen after you mix this thing and give them a CD. Will they be making 100 cds? will YOU be making 100 cds? (that part sux). Will they be going off to a printer place, for duplication?

If it's just onesy-twosy, then fine, crank out a couple, and have fun. Anything more should be figured out.

Avoid drinking, if you can. It may not be possible, but gear ain't cheap, and may people won't (or can't) replace something if they bust it.

I've thought many times about getting a 200$ deposit before accepting a project. This can help replace a busted mic / stand / etc., but also keeps non-dedicated groups out of my way. They get it back off the final cost, before I hand over any work, so they're not out it if the project goes well.

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
Since: May 10, 2002

Apr 29, 2008 08:55 am

Agree with all of the above for sure.

Don't let things ride during tracking. I know Rock and Roll is one big party, but sometimes you have to be the bad guy. Point out things in a take that arn't working as they happen. "Are you sure you can live with this Kick drum hit here in the middle of nowhere?" "Do you really want to leave this out of tune guitar on this piece" etc.etc.etc.

Ask them if they have ever played to a metramone. If you can without too much trouble, make a quickie "live" recording of them and critique it with them.

The biggest thing is I have discovered is the need to set realistic expectations up front. There are tons, I say again TONS of bands out there that believe the "studio" is the magic place where you can dump in a bunch of hamburger and filet-min-yon magicly pops out the other end. Be clear about your abilities and what you are willing to go through in terms of repairs, masaging etc. to make them sound good. Set reasonable sessions, starts at....ENDS AT, unless you want to become part of the hang out and jam thing. Give them a raw mix down to chew on for a bit before you dive into spending hours fixing their performance.

Set boundries and hold them.

Since: Apr 28, 2008

Apr 29, 2008 10:22 am

All very helpful thanks a heap!

Since: Apr 06, 2007

Apr 29, 2008 12:10 pm

It may sound obvious but the best you can do is get good musicians, it makes everything more easy, not only in the music performance side, but most of the time (though not always) good musicians have good instruments and a distinct sound , they are used to playing a lot with bands so they already mixed their instruments tonally with each other meaning that they know, for example, that a guitar shouldnt get in the way of a bass.

Another important issue in a mix is the arangment of the song, it has a lot of impact in the mix, when the arrangement of the song is done in a way that everyone has their on place in order to prevent frequency conflicts you spend less time trying to make things sound good in the mix.

For example a good guitar player would know what to play (or just dont play) when another player is performing a solo, etc. This little things make the mix easier, faster and better.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Apr 29, 2008 12:17 pm

A band is a band, the musicians that are in the band are the musicians you get, end of story.

If the band is good, experienced musicians you ask question of direction, goals for the sound, how they are comfortable recording (which instruments at which times, what ones together, etc) and all that, if they are newbies or kids, you tell them how it goes...don't bother asking because they will think they know, but they won't. Tell them without being jerky, more "guide" them with nudges...

The most important thing though, regardless of experience, is keep them comfortable...the best studios I have been in have goofy little toys in the lounge while other members are waiting for their turn...rubiks cubes, TV, radio, modelling clay and junk like that to keep fidgity hands busy and relaxed...

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Apr 29, 2008 08:55 pm

Yep, keep the mids busy for certain. dB make a very good point. If they get bored things can turn to crap in a hurry as they rush to do their part. Here there are 3 video games consoles, a couple of PC's to play on. Basketball hoop with a few balls. And always food in the fridge. I try to steer the alcohol away until later on after a few good takes. Which with some of the younger ones that have been here was hard to get good takes first time round.

The biggest factor here was the ability to record in any room they choose. Wanna sing in the kitchen, so be it.

Make them comfortable by all means. That is the key to having musicians that will work well.

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