Fix the Mix
When it comes to mixdown, I’m not really your stellar Mutt Lange kind of guy…..I just kind of hope that it’s all pretty much how it should be level-wise, and some things need the odd tweak. You talk to me about ‘frequency’, I’ll think of an old movie starring Dennis Quaid. If it feels all right to me, then it probably is, except if you’re a real audiophile….you know the type…”that power chord was a gnat’s chuff quieter than the one two verses back…”
But, it’s funny how some things just don’t really hit you until you’ve done that first mixdown. I did a mix of “Brought it down in Austin” yesterday, and the minute I played it back, it felt wrong. It didn’t skip along as it should , and the verses needed an extra point of interest as the song moved forward. Plus, I felt the acoustic guitars could have been a little better recorded. So it’s back to the drawing board with this one for the moment.I’ve added a subtle Stones type shaker to carry the ‘skip’ of the beat while the drums pedantically bang away, and I’ve put a few atmospheric synth notes in the second half of the verses. I’ll re-do the acoustics later.
The lesson here is that, whilst a first take of a guitar solo will more often than not be more exciting than subsequent ones, a second or third mix will invariably improve on the first. This is because, during the construction of the song in recorded format, you’re not really listening to it as a whole, the sum of its parts. You are de-constructing it all the time until the pieces have fallen into place. It’s only with that first mix that you begin to step back and view it in its entirety, and understand the components therein, and how they should interact to show it in its best light.
After the third or fourth mix of course, you start invoking The Law of Diminishing Returns, and that’s a whole other topic.