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LEARNING HOW TO MIX
Of course, the best way to learn how to mix is to assist many talented Engineers and Producers in different musical styles while you experiment with what you learn on the side. Unfortunately that requires a full time position in a diversely booked studio with enough free studio time to play around with. This situation was common during the 70’s and 80’s, but became more rare during the 90’s and pretty much a rarity by 2001. Blame global economics, MP3 piracy, or even DIGITAL, it does not matter. So what to do?
Train your ear by LISTENING carefully to mixes you like on a variety of speaker systems. Try to analyze not only the overall feeling but also the way the mix may be contributing to that vibe. Consider the overall vocal sound and dynamics. Listen to how the instruments are spread out in the stereo field. Listen to the punchiness and roundness of the drums and bass. Listen to the clarity of the cymbals and the sibilance of the vocal. Listen to the edginess of the guitars. Listen to the space the vocal seems to be in and try to break down any distinguishable delays and reverbs that make that space. Listen to how instruments seem to “pass the ball” of the melody around and keep you interested.
MOST OF ALL LISTEN TO HOW THESE ELEMENTS CAN VARY TREMENDOUSLY FROM ONE GREAT SONG TO ANOTHER SO YOU CAN BETTER UNDERSTAND THAT THESE ELEMENTS ARE ONLY TOOLS TO BEST SUPPORT AND ENHANCE THE FEELING OF THE SONG.
PRACTICE by mixing anything you can get your hands on, in as many DIFFERENT ways as possible. Have a song sounding good? Now mix it to sound like a different style, or even try to make it sound angrier / happier / sadder / etc.
COMPARE your mixes to finished CDs (“A/B”). Try to copy the sound of mixes you like.