Mixing yourself?

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papercuts
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Mixing yourself?

Post by papercuts » Mon Mar 27, 2006 10:48 pm

Excuse me if this has been covered to death, I couldn't find anything on a search...

Question: Is it worth it to give $2-300 a day to a "pro", someone you don't know to mix your album? At the very least for a fresh perspective? Obviously this is a subjective question and without going into my life's story I am wondering if there is a big concensus on this. I am thinking for vocals it's hard to put your own voice as loud as it should be... But maybe having more time to get it right is more valueable... If it matters I am all analog- 2" 16 track to 1/4"... Thanks,

Jason

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Post by Barry Jive » Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:11 pm

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes, for all the reasons you describe. After spending so much time recording and tinkering with a song you don't hear it like anyone else. It's good to get it through at least a new set of ears if not a new room, console, etc. With the 300 dollar figure are you thinking of hiring a guy to come to your place or to take it to a studio with a new engineer? There are lots of good guys working for around 250 as a day rate sans studio, but I don't know how many places with a 250 a day combo rate would be worth it. My 2 cents.

-Eric

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Post by drumsound » Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:32 pm

I've mixed projects for people who have tracked alone for the very reason of perspective. If you can get a good mixer for $300 it would be well worth your while.

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Post by papercuts » Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:36 pm

Thanks Eric, I hate to say you are probably right. I guess I was hoping someone would say "save the moeny and put it into your studio!" Yes that is another question, which studio to mix at? My humble Auditronics board or a place with a Neve and a plate... Now you are looking at least $500 a day for this small budget record. (I know someone who could give this deal with a Neve etc...) On the other side I could buy a better board for what this will end up costing...

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Post by papercuts » Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:39 pm

Oh thanks Tony. Yes, the producer with the "Name" would be $300 a day and $300 for the Neve room.... I guess I was naive about what other people charge for thier studios... It sounded like a lot to me...

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Post by Barry Jive » Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:23 am

papercuts wrote:Oh thanks Tony. Yes, the producer with the "Name" would be $300 a day and $300 for the Neve room.... I guess I was naive about what other people charge for thier studios... It sounded like a lot to me...
Just think about yourself 5 years from now. Would you rather have the upgraded equipment that you probably won't still be using, or a better sounding CD that will be around forever? I know what I would do/did.

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Re: Mixing yourself?

Post by bobbydj » Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:30 am

papercuts wrote:Excuse me if this has been covered to death, I couldn't find anything on a search...

Question: Is it worth it to give $2-300 a day to a "pro", someone you don't know to mix your album? At the very least for a fresh perspective? Obviously this is a subjective question and without going into my life's story I am wondering if there is a big concensus on this. I am thinking for vocals it's hard to put your own voice as loud as it should be... But maybe having more time to get it right is more valueable... If it matters I am all analog- 2" 16 track to 1/4"... Thanks,

Jason
Imo, no. What happens if you hate it? Also if the level of the vocal is the main thing you're worrying about, then my answer is definitely no. You just want 3 different mixes with the vocals at various levels, a couple of weeks to reflect, and that's pretty much it.
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Post by pantone247 » Tue Mar 28, 2006 4:29 am

Barry Jive wrote:Just think about yourself 5 years from now. Would you rather have the upgraded equipment that you probably won't still be using, or a better sounding CD that will be around forever? I know what I would do/did.
crikey, I'd have the gear please bob

does that make me a bad person? I've been mixing myself for so long now I know my bad habits, I will mix to much reverb in, I'll pan too hard, I will put my voice too low... so when I'm happy with a mix, i lower the reverb re-sends, haul in one or two of my extreme pans and and touch the vox up a notch... it might not sound as cool righ then... but I know it'll be the mix I'm happier with in two weeks time

this all comes from what Bobby DJ says, makes loads of mixes and put them in a shoe box under your bed for two weeks... then see what you think...
INDIE TILL I DIE

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Re: Mixing yourself?

Post by Fletcher » Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:19 am

papercuts wrote:Question: Is it worth it to give $2-300 a day to a "pro", someone you don't know to mix your album?
First off, I know very few [as in no] "pro"s who can work for $2-300/day [studio included]... but I suppose there are different levels and expectations of what is "pro" so I'm sure it's just something with which I'm unfamiliar.

Most of the guys that I know that are worth a damn as mixers charge by the mix, not by the day. Some can knock out 2-3 mixes in a day [with full recall capability... so if the client doesn't like something they can do a 'touch up' without a struggle... usually at no charge]... other mixers can take 2-3 days to do a mix but might not have the 'recall capability' [though they might be able to email you MP-3's for your input during the process].

That said, with the exception of the really 'top gun' [$5,000+ per mix] guys almost all the mixers I know will do one "on spec" for you. In other words, they'll do a mix for you, if you like it; you buy it and hire them to either finish the record or do the "singles"... if you don't like it; no harm, no foul you both go your merry ways and never talk again.

There are also guys with different rates depending on your status as a client. I know I have one rate for bands that are signed to "major labels"; another rate for bands signed to "real" indy labels [like 'Victory' or 'Subpop' or 'Roadrunner' or 'Rounder', etc.] and yet another rate for a really independent release [like some kids putting out their own basically "self funded" project... and while it might be "on a label" it's usually a tiny label or a 'vanity' label or a one or two title label... in other words not something you've heard of before kind of label].

Now the work is basically the same whether they're paying me 4 digits a mix; high 3 digits a mix or low 3 digits a mix... then there is the question of the studio. If I'm using my joint and it's a real "indie" indie thing then more often than not I'll throw it in, just pay the assistant... if it's an established "indie" project then there is a charge for the room... not horrendous, but it's nice to recoup a little on a pretty significant capital outlay every once in a while.

If it's a "major label" thing then chances are way better than even that Racks 1 & 2 will have their Elco's pulled, their covers placed on them, their "travel patchbays" tested, and get queued by the back door along with my workbox, the case that holds my nearfields and possibly the "Mercenary Editions demo rack" [if there is a problem getting the "M-E" stuff rented at whatever studio I'm about to be working].

At that point it's generally "the producer" who is telling me where I'm working and the label is paying the cartage bills along with First Class Airfare [if applicable] and car service to and from the airport. Those days aren't as prevalent as they once were as budgets are shrinking and I find fewer producers wanting to attend mix sessions [which means that our joint, albeit classicly furnished but lacking the nice lounges and creature comforts of the "major league studios"] can be used and I can stay the fuck home where I'm happiest.

All that happy horseshit aside... if you're hiring a mixer on 'reputation' or just because they're a different set of ears... make them do a mix "on spec" before you get married to them. Sometimes they'll absolutely blow you away and you'll feel like you're not paying them enough... other times you'll sit there and listen to their mix and think "shit, I could have done this... I'm not paying this fool for this crap... fuck that".

Best of luck with your project... and please, feel free to fly me and the racks somewhere warm... while for the most part it's been a mild winter in New England... I could really stand some "T-shirt" weather right about now.

Peace.

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Post by curtiswyant » Tue Mar 28, 2006 8:24 am

What kind of project is this for anyway? It makes a big difference. Personally, I like doing everything myself. It would be a good idea to have others listen to the tracks before you commit to a final version, but I don't see any problem with you being the one turning the knobs.

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Post by papercuts » Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:59 am

I think Fletcher has a good point, I should let someone mix one song and see if it blows my mind. And I may be wrong about the $300 a day for the mixer, maybe that was a bro deal my friend got, I'll have to see... About the music, I'll just say that my ideal mix would sound like T-rex, but a little dirtier drums and more acoustic guitar. And it's a small budget indie label. Thanks everyone for the replies. Although it has me as on the fence as ever.

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Post by papercuts » Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:02 am

Oh and Fletcher, the $300 was engineer no room...

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Post by drumsound » Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:49 am

I'll mix a song on spec.

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Re: Mixing yourself?

Post by jmoose » Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:45 am

papercuts wrote:Excuse me if this has been covered to death, I couldn't find anything on a search...

Question: Is it worth it to give $2-300 a day to a "pro", someone you don't know to mix your album? At the very least for a fresh perspective? Obviously this is a subjective question and without going into my life's story I am wondering if there is a big concensus on this.
It depends.

What are you looking or hoping to get from working with someone else?

There's about a bajillion reasons to hire an outside mixer and another bajillion to NOT hire an outside mixer.

Probably the biggest reason to get someone is not just for the fresh perspective...but for how they think and what they can bring to the table. If you're having 'problems' sorting out tones and getting things to gel & translate to the outside world then yeah...you might want to consider hiring a mixer. Likewise if you wrote the songs, played them, produced & recorded them over a period of months or years then you might want to get a mixer in there so you can distance yourself...all too often people end up losing their perspective and that whole self-doubt thing creeps up and eats at 'ya. Is the snare loud enough? What if we tried this? Does that sound ok? It happens to the best of 'em, myself included!

Plus, chances are pretty good that the outside mixer will treat the songs & do things with them that you had NEVER thought of which, really is the MAIN reason I love working with other people who've got some skill. I always walk away from those gigs a more enriched person with new tricks in my bag. Enriching the brain rather then the equipment and IMO, that'll take you a LOT further then some shiny new black box.

OTOH, if you know EXACTLY what you want to hear and what it should sound like then you might not want to hire a mix engineer. As a mix AE nothings worse then some dude standing over my shoulder and telling me what to do...ie; which knob to turn where. There's a HUGE difference between giving the mixer direction and input and tossing 'em outta their own chair. The former is great! "Less 'verb...no longer...but lower" Or maybe; "More Stones, less Steely Dan". The latter makes me wish that one of the acoustic panels would fall from the ceiling and knock me unconcious!

:lol:

Really I doubt you're ever going to find a concensous on this subject. Every project just like every human is a unique and individual snowflake with it's own requirements, wants & needs. But if you're having more then a fair amount of doubt about the mixes, you should look into finding someone...at least make a couple three phonecalls and feel some different people out.

Peace,
J. 'Moose' Kahrs
mixer|producer|audio engineer
www.mooseaudio.net

www.oxidelounge.com

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Re: Mixing yourself?

Post by knobtwirler » Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:54 pm

Fletcher wrote:If it's a "major label" thing then chances are way better than even that Racks 1 & 2 will have their Elco's pulled, their covers placed on them, their "travel patchbays" tested, and get queued by the back door along with my workbox, the case that holds my nearfields and possibly the "Mercenary Editions demo rack" [if there is a problem getting the "M-E" stuff rented at whatever studio I'm about to be working].
Always fun to hear a top level pro's POV but this paragraph even goes over my head. I'm guessing you are saying that you are moving your stuff to another studio when it's a major label.
That aside, I'd be glad to do a mix for $200-300 a day/mix whichever comes first, and I'd look at it from a clean slate perspective that you would never be able to achieve. By the end of the mix, we'd meet in the middle as I'd know the song by then and we'd both be hearing it in a tightened up sonic framework. Of course, whatever the studio costs is a separate bill.

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