We're Not Mind-Readers!
Updated: Apr 1
Hey, it's Spencer from Spencer Studios in Lancaster Pennsylvania and today we're going to talk about what to expect when collaborating with an audio engineer on your mix.
Mixing a song is subjective just as what you as the artist might think sounds good is purely a matter of personal preference or opinion. As Audio Engineers it is our job to know what sort of mix is generally accepted or expected within various genres. When we mix your music we help your song fit into these moulds, while also retaining what makes it unique so that it has the best chance of being appreciated by a variety of listeners within the realm of popular music. Gaining fans of your music is the path to industry success and monetization. We want to help you get there, get signed, make it.
Once the engineer receives your tracks a major part of mixing process is setting the sound stage. The sound stage of a standard stereo file has two dimensions which are depth and width. This ideology reflects the experience of attending a live performance. When your track is finished we want the consumer to feel like they are right there, in the same room as your sound.
Attending a live concert you can identify each individual sound source hearing both how wide the performance is in front of you and the different layers of each sound source from the vocalist in the front to the drums in the back. The sound is balanced, wide, and deep as is the goal of recorded music.
As soon an engineer has reached a version of a mix with these goals in mind among others, they will submit it back to the artist for their input. It is important to understand that the engineer is not a mind reader. They have made your mix fit into an acceptable format for consumption based upon their experience in the industry. They might not know immediately for the first mix what your individual preferences are. Don't expect the first version of the mix to be perfect, it is only a step in the process. Once you have a version of the mix now it is imperative to submit your thoughts as the artist.
Now that you have a version of your mix let’s talk about what we as the engineer need you to do with it. First of all, try to listen on an unbiased sound system, the below articles go into that in detail. If your system is lying to you, it will be hard for you to give accurate input. If you don’t have a reference level system learn the biases of what you do have. If you normally listen with Beats by Dre know that those have a massive bass boost. If you listen to your mix on these and your bass is hitting too hard recognize that it might be your gear and not the mix.
Listen for any errors the engineer may not have noticed. Listen to the stereo field meaning, are different sound sources in the left and right positions you imagined? Listen to the depth, are you hearing each sound enough are certain sounds too much, are the vocals clear enough? Do you like the way EQ was applied tonally? Do you like the dynamics of the track from the way compression was applied to how the volume changes over time. What do you think about the usage of reverb? If any special processing like autotune or delay has been applied is this what you envisioned? Do not worry about overall track loudness. Loudness specifications and mix translation to lesser quality systems like smartphones are all taken care during mastering once an ideal mix has been established.
When you have gathered your notes, we often use a program called filepass which allows you to input your comments directly to the track in a time stamped manner. Time stamping makes it clear where certain items you might be referencing exist in the mix. We are also available for in-person or virtual mixing sessions to make adjustments with you in real time. Now that we have your comments the engineer will make adjustments based upon your preferences. Once collaboration has taken place that is when the mix can be completed. The first mix is never and should never be the final mix.
This collaboration process is part what makes your track unique and is an important part of the process. At Spencer Studios we aim to never leave a client unhappy, this process of collaboration is how we can maintain this goal.
If you want to know more consider scheduling a free session with us,
Spencer Miles Spencer Studios 313 W Liberty St, Lancaster, PA 17603