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109: Do You Have A Mixing Process? Here’s How We Approach Our Mixes.

Are you feeling overwhelmed every time you're starting a mix? Do you go back and forth a lot, constantly questioning your decisions?

More...

For a lot of self-recording artists the answer to those questions above is "yes".

Do you know when the mix is actually done? Do you know what needs to be corrected in the raw recordings you're working on? And do you know what needs to be done first, second, third, etc.?

The answer to these questions, though, is often "no".

That's why Malcom and I (Benedikt) give you a break down of our “mixing systems”, telling you exactly how we approach our mixes. Step-by-step.

This is all about having a good process and knowing what you're trying to achieve in each phase. So that you can then be creative, completely focus on the task at hand and consistently make progress towards you desired end result.

Understanding the whole mixing process better and coming up with a system or some kind of repeatable approach for yourself will help you

  • stay focused
  • be more creative
  • make better decisions faster
  • serve your songs better
  • actually finish your projects

And of course your mixes will sound better, too.

Let's go!

Book A Free Feedback Call With Benedikt:


This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB 109 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

[00:00:00] Benedikt: In the self recorded tracks, there are general challenges that you don't see those people solve.

[00:00:06] And they're mixing courses when they work on professional to produce stuff, you know, so, but we have to deal with those challenges and that there's ways to make that work still. Hello? and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I am your host, Benedick tine, and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. How are you? My comm, 

[00:00:36] Malcom: Hello, Benny. I'm good, man. How are you? 

[00:00:39] Benedikt: I'm doing good as well. Thank you. Uh, it's a beautiful weather here, which we hadn't a lot of this year. So now the last couple of days. Yeah, it's pretty. I have to be honest. I didn't go get the chance to go outside that much, but I still enjoy looking out the window.

[00:00:53] Malcom: It's just improves everything. It's good, man. It's so good. 

[00:00:57] Benedikt: Yeah, totally.

[00:00:58] Malcom: I got to say, though, I am excited for [00:01:00] this episode because I am literally working on what we're going to be talking about all day today. So. 

[00:01:05] Benedikt: Really? Oh yeah. That's that's, that's cool. I started as well. I probably, I don't know if I'm as far as in, as you are, but I've started. And part of it is like, if you're watching on YouTube, you'll see that there is a new angle here. Uh, it's not perfect yet, but I'm experimenting with the camera and stuff because we are doing video content. And we, we should have done that for awhile, I think, but now we're actually starting. And what we're going to do is we're going to do video mix. Walk-throughs where we open up a session that we mixed, like Malcolm does one and I do one, we open up the sessions and we're going to walk you through exactly how we mixed the songs. So this is not going to be a realtime 10 hour thing that you have to sit through. Um, but it's going to be. As a, sort of a step-by-step walkthrough through an already finished mix. So we're going to go through the tracks, go through a thought process, open up the plugin change, and I'll show you the, the decisions we made[00:02:00] while we were mixing the song. And, uh, I'm pretty excited for that because I think that's a great way to learn. And for us, it's also a new way of teaching and actually showing you what we've been talking about all the time. So I'm really, really excited for that. And if you want. No, when this is going to be released. And if you want to get your hands on that, you should join our email list and you do that by downloading free stuff, which is always amazing. Right? So you go to the self recording, band.com/ten step guide. It's the number 10 step guide. And I think it both works like type in 10 or as a word or the number, the African band.com/ten step guide. And then. You can download a free PDF that walks you through not the mixing process, but the stuff that happens before the writing arranging, recording consolidating clean up all the stuff that like the whole production sort of, and it walks you through the whole production, the whole process of making a record. And when you have that, you'll be on our list. And then you get [00:03:00] notified when we release the mixed walk-throughs. And both of those things together will give you the full picture off the whole process. And this is going to be incredibly valuable for you. So again, go to the self recording band.com/ten step guide and download the 10 step guide to successful DOR recording. That's what it's called and you'll know when we're going to release our courses.

[00:03:21] Malcom: Yeah, I'm so excited to do this. I feel like there's like just an incredible amount of serendipity going on where lately people have been messaging me, asking if I do mixing lessons or I'll send them a mix and they're like, how did you do this? And I just like, oh, let's just wait. I'm going to show you where we're making something. And you'll actually, yeah. So we're going to open. Uh, you know, uh, a mix each respectively and, and the coolest part of this, this is the, this is the coolest, unique thing about this, I think is that we're doing it with bands that have recorded themselves. That is the whole like unique offering here is that it's how we took tracks that were self. My is just like you listeners. And actually you're probably [00:04:00] listening the people that were using your songs. You're probably also listening to this right now. This is probably weird that I'm talking to you because you already know what I'm talking about, but anyways, inception moment there, uh, we're we're taking Yeah. Self self-reported tracks and we're showing how we mixed them and made them. Sound amazing. I think, and I I'm so excited. The song that I've got the permission to mix is going to be getting on like the radio apparently right after we released the course. So it's like, it's all coming together. So cool. It's like a self recorded song that I got to mix. That's hitting radio, like what could be better? So if you want to see how we do it, this is, this is your Perfect. opportunity. 

[00:04:38] Benedikt: Perfect. Yeah. I love that you brought that up because that's the, really the difference, I think, or one of the, one of the, the, the, uh, differentiating factors about what we do here, because this is not you watching some. Um, superstar mixer mix a band by the attract and the most expensive studio with the most expensive gear. And like all these ideal situations, [00:05:00] you know, you watch professionals like us and we it's, it's going to sound like a professional record, but it's, as you said, um, recorded by a band. Themselves and in their gym space or wherever, and it's like a real life situation and not something that you can never sit a recreate at home. And, uh, I think this, and there's unique challenges to this as well because all these mixing courses that are out there, um, there are lots of, a lot of yeah, lots of good ones out there, of course. And I watch them all the time and I love it. But the thing is. In the self recorded tracks, there are general challenges that you don't see those people solve. And they're mixing courses when they work on professional to produce stuff, you know, so, but we have to deal with those challenges and that there's ways to make that work still. And there's, you're going to not only learn about the mixing, but you're also going to learn a lot about the source tracks and how to avoid problems in the first place. And you see what needs to be done in order to solve certain things, you know, I think this is super valuable for you and much more applicable and actionable than [00:06:00] watching, you know, some superstar band and their mix. No.

[00:06:05] Malcom: Yeah. And, uh, even the mixing point of view, like, I mean, I, I can't speak for your setup, Benny. You're a little more gear heavy than I am, uh, on the mixing side of things, but I'm, I'm, this whole mix was in the box. 

[00:06:17] Um, so it's going to be a perfect. Yeah. So these are like, That like even the mixing style is like, this is possible with a laptop. Do you know how your band recorded their checks and where they recorded their checks? Like what that situation was like? 

[00:06:30] Benedikt: To be honest on the top of my head. I don't know it right now. I know, I mean, I do, I don't want to say anything wrong here. I do remember that it was a very minimal setup, so I think the guitars and the vocals and everything. Uh, chest basically they could, uh, sort of entry-level in interface. I really think it was the bare minimum. I don't want to, I'm not too sure about it. Maybe there was the exception here and there, but I remember that the most, if it was like a Scarlet or something that the typical entry level level [00:07:00] interface that they used I'm not really sure about the drums. I would know that they did them themselves as well, but I'm not, I can't really tell you about the room and stuff that I, it was nothing fancy, not at all. Like it was a very low budget thing. Um, so it's a very real life situation. Uh, yeah, that's all I can say. Basically. I don't want to, I don't want to claim anything that's, that's not wrong. That's not right. You know, so, but it was a very minimal setup and I will, I will give you more details in the course.

[00:07:26] Malcom: cool. Yeah. The rough 32nd pitch of mine was that it was a garage for drums and then apartment. Just in like an apartment building, uh, where they live, like, you know, bachelor pad for the rest of it. And it's like, oh, it's so cool. It's so perfect. 

[00:07:43] Benedikt: Yeah. Awesome. That's that's great. So, yeah. I look forward to that. So, and now to come back to today's episode, we're going to talk about some of that actually today. We're gonna explain to you, because that's a question that comes up a lot when I work with coaching clients as well. So [00:08:00] we're going to talk about. Are mixing process. We're going to walk you through the steps or how we think about the mixing. We're going to show it to you, how we actually do it in these mixing videos. But today we're going to explain to you the process and the thought process behind it, like the steps we take, why we do them, the order we go through it, because a lot of people are struggling with a process. They don't have one, they just wing it, sort of, they open up the session. Sometimes the recording, editing and mixing. This fluid sort of thing, you know, like not, not did. And they don't have a real process for all those things. And then they go back and forth a lot and they tweak something here, rerecord something there. Then they go back and do another thing. And, um, I'm, uh, people ask me a lot about like, how do you approach a mix? How do you stay focused? What is the step-by-step way to properly mix a song? And my answer is I have a process and Malcolm, you do too, but there is not the one way to mix a song. So what we're going to show you today is how we think about mixes, how we approach mixes, but our approaches are going to be different and both of [00:09:00] them work. And you're going to have to find what works for you. Just take what we say here. Think about why we do it that way, and then try to apply that to your stuff and figure out what works for you. What doesn't just come up with a process and I'm sure there are some things that you can just take and run with, but just don't, don't do exactly what we do because you're going to think about music differently than we do that. I think I have to say that. So there is no one way to do it, but it helps to start with some process and then you take that framework and make it yours. I'd say.

[00:09:30] Malcom: Yes. Yeah. this is going to be fascinating. And actually for both Benny and I, because we're going to learn a lot about each other's style and how we get to. The end result through different different methods. I think it's going to be very fun.

[00:09:42] Benedikt: Yeah. Okay. So you want to start.

[00:09:45] Malcom: All right. Yeah. My, my first thing I'm assuming the importing is already done in the mixed prep has already done, which I'm going to talk about in the course, if you want to know more about that. The, but uh, assuming it's all it's sitting in there, my first thing is [00:10:00] a little faders up mix and that just means I'm yanking around. Instrument groups and making a rough balance right away. Um, so not using any plugins, just, just grabbing things and making sure that I can hear everything roughly. And nothing's not like there's nothing that's way too loud or way too quiet or missing. And. And that my overall levels are reasonable. You know, I don't want to run out of headroom down the road. So it is just a very quick balance. And I do this at extremely low volumes, pretty well as quiet as I can get my my headphones to go. 

[00:10:37] Benedikt: No. Okay, cool. I do. Yeah. I'm going to walk you through my process later. This similar thing, so cute. I'm curious. Keep going. 

[00:10:45] Malcom: Yeah. So, I mean, that is step one. Um, and then step two is, and I think this is where Benny and I are going to depart right away. Step two, I go through my mix in groups. My I'm very, I compartmentalize a [00:11:00] lot of things in my mind and it's. Keep track of things and make sense of things and not just musically. Um, so for me, like I kind of think of it as like a stem master and I'm like, all right, I need to sorta my drum stem and. Solo my drums. And I start working my drum mix and into a place. And I've got an idea of where that's going to go based on that previous staff, where I'm hearing the whole song. And I'm like, all right, we need like a monstrous kick. And I want this like really dry, snappy snare, that's short and gated or something weird. You know, th this is an example. But if there's an idea and then I get to work on it, um, I always move through kicks snare. Rest of kit and then, and then working backwards through it kind of again and again, until it sounds like this rock and drum tone all on its own. And, and amazingly, I think this might surprise some people. I don't really reference against the song very much in this process. It's mostly [00:12:00] from memory of what I wanted to hear. And I'm, I almost treat it like I'm changing how the song was engineered rather than mixing at this step. It's like, I wish that the drums were delivered to me, sounded like this. I wish this was how they were recorded and that I get that to that. And then I do it to every other instrument. So basis my next group, I make the base stem, how I wish the bass was recorded for this song. I go to the guitar and I make it sound how I wish the guitars were recorded. Not really caring about how they interact with each other that much, yet other than the occasional on and off. And, and then. Yeah, vocals are kind of left to last and vocals. I don't really do that too. Vocals are kind of like saved for me, but it's like, I kind of go through and in my head I am changing how they were engineered more so than mixing the song together. And, and then I start trying to mix it together. So everything gets muted again. [00:13:00] I'm just going straight through here. Benny, did you want to jump in with your thing at all and switch off or. 

[00:13:05] Benedikt: No, I think it's a good idea to to hear your process and then I'll do mine. I think this will be easier to, to make sense of like why you do things in a certain order and stuff. So.

[00:13:15] Malcom: So, So. everything gets muted again, I'm back to drums and I know a little bit more now because everything's kind of been getting stacked on top of each other. I do some more drunk tweaks, but now pretty much immediately, I'm going to unsold over the base and start mixing them together. And now I'm caring about their relationship a lot more. In general, because I've done that previous engineering work, I call it it, it works pretty good. Like these are nice instruments now playing together. Um, but there's always that little jelly making the kick and the base move the right way and come together. And this is when Yeah, Movement really comes into play. So that might be bringing in parallel compression on the drums or something to get like a pump happening. Um, Whatever it may be. I'm now really mixing, you know, [00:14:00] combining elements to, to do something intentional. And then once I'm happy with that relationship, it's generally that guitars that are coming in next. So I've got drums, bass and guitars thrown in there and I'm jiving them together, making sure that they are living together. Keys after that, if there is keys. And I always loved that there is keys, more people need keys and, uh, get that happy. And then, and then it's vocal time. And. I I've, I should say that I've been experimenting with where I introduced vocals into the process. Usually it's pretty far down the line. Um, like, like this example I'm giving right now, but sometimes it I've been experimenting with getting it in earlier just to see how that changes things. But vocals are interesting because you can't do too much to them without it sounding really. And, and fake and like they, they just don't take over processing very well. If you want them to sound like a human now, but I do need them to [00:15:00] fit with the rest of the song. So it's, it's it's you gotta be careful. And, and it, it, I, would say vocals, take up the lion share of my time. Um, I, spend a lot of time at the step of making the vocals fit into this foundation. I've built for them in all the other previous steps. So it's, it's, it's like figuring out their IQ, figuring out their compression and, and density is kind of the word I use for vocals is how dense they are from compression. And, and then there's so much automation you have to do generally as well. Um, and then the vocal effects thing, reverb and delays, finding that balance. Um, Generally the reason I've left vocals so long is because I need to know how much space there's going to be. If I just started with vocals and sold them, reverb and delay feels really good, no matter how much I add, but then I add in the rest of the song and it's like, all of that stuff is now just in the way of other elements, or I can't even hear it anymore because there's so much other stuff going on. Um, so I mute it and I [00:16:00] realize it doesn't make a difference to if the Reverb's on or off. Um, so I, 

[00:16:05] Benedikt: I do have a quick question. There's sorry. Before I forget, I do have a quick question there though. So, and I do, I I'm the same when it comes to that. I can say that. So I do vocals last sort of most of the time, but I often wondered why we actually do this because, and I know that not everybody does it that way, because if I think about it, it kind of makes sense to me that. Uh, it wouldn't make sense to do it the other way around because in most genres, like the vocals are arguably the most important thing. So why wouldn't you start with them? And then instead of like I guess, I guess like, uh, I want to say, why don't you start with vocals and then make everything fit around them because when you do vocals, I, again, I do vocals last as well, but when you do locals, last chances are, you have to sort of. It sounds like you would have to make compromises, um, when it comes to the vocal sound in order to fit it in, into all the things you've built before. [00:17:00] So why wouldn't you just start with the vocal, make it the best he can be and everything else has to sort of fit around that. And I know that in a lot of like in pop, for example, a lot of people do it exactly that way. Like they start with the vocal and then they build everything around it. Or maybe they start with the beat, then the vocal and then everything else around it. So why do we do vocals last and how do we still manage. To make the vocal stand out and not be buried and stuff, you know?

[00:17:24] Malcom: Yeah. And that took a while to figure out uh, th there's one of the honest reasons is inspiration. It's just fun. You're mixing this way, making music and then, and then fitting the vocal on top. But, uh, the trick to, to not sacrificing the vocal is remembering to work backwards. You get to the vocal and the mid range is just not fitting. Try to cut it out of the guitar instead of the vocal. If you need to prioritize that vocal, like if, if the vocal mid-range is really important and does sound good. Like, you know, that this vocal sounds awesome. It just isn't fitting in the mix. You have to find out how to take it, [00:18:00] how to create the room in the mix. Not necessarily by removing it from the vocal that's, that's the backwards way to do it. And it is hard. That's, uh, it takes time to do that because our instinct is that we don't want to undo work. We've already put in. We, we all, we all have that sunk cost fallacy thing going on where it's like, well, we already made that. Going back means that I wasted time and it's just not the case. Um, I, you know, I just described this as a very linear thing, but it's always like constantly jumping back in that list, going back and back, referencing and come in and then just continue pushing forward, but always looking backwards as well. 

[00:18:35] Benedikt: Okay. That's interesting. Cool. 

[00:18:38] Malcom: Um, so yeah, and then it's, it's there. Oh, you know what? I kind of skipped. Uh, generally by the time guitars are coming in, I'm looking at my mixed bus and what's going on there. I've got kind of uh, some like defaults that are always living there, sitting out the ready and actually engaged, like at like bus compressor there's um, and, and [00:19:00] some, some stuff. So it's already there, but AF once drums, bass and guitar in there, I'm now looking at them and start into, to play with them and see. What's happening. And, and getting that kind of like, uh, my mentor described it to me as creating the box that you will paint it within, which is a nice visual way to figure it out. It's like, if your canvas is infinite, you'll never finish. Right. So by creating the box, you are, you're creating the campus, um, that you're going to mix into. So that's kind of when the mixed bus stuff starts coming in, and that is getting constantly tweaked as well as you. add each instrument, I'm constantly reassessing what's going on there. As well. I think people that watch this are going to be amazed at how many plugins I have in a session. 

[00:19:49] Benedikt: I think so too. I think so same for me. Like when you said it D it can all be done on the laptop. I was thinking like, yeah, on a very powerful laptop.

[00:19:58] Malcom: Yes. [00:20:00] You're 

[00:20:00] absolutely You're 

[00:20:02] Benedikt: Yeah. But Yeah. But the good news is the good news is you don't have to use the same plugins. You can use your stock plugins, which will then be much more easier on your CPU. So it doesn't have to be all the fancy stuff like the, the, the principles still apply and didn't, and honestly, if you would take away all my fancy plugins, I could still make it work somehow with the stock plugging. So 

[00:20:20] Malcom: totally. Yeah. Lately I've been purposely just grabbing. Versions, like, you know, just grabbing the stock one order, like I've got like this waves bundle that I never use anything from. And I've just been like, why not? Let's just see if I can do it. And it's it hasn't slowed me down at all. It's amazing. Just goes to show how much money I've wasted on plugins. 

[00:20:36] Benedikt: Yeah. That's that's the sad part. Yeah, you're totally right. Yeah.

[00:20:40] Malcom: Uh, it's funny. Um, and then, and then, Yeah assuming all is going well, this is sounding awesome. I've I've mixed the vocals in there. And, and now it's, it's really squeezing out some loudness, um, and doing the kind of the mastering phase. And the limiter is probably already been turned on, but now I'm seeing, I'm seeing how far I can push [00:21:00] it. And does pushing them make it better or does it make it worse? And if it gets worse and I think it does need to be louder, why is it getting worse? What do I need to do to make it not be a detriment to get it to that loudness that I think the song needs to be impactful. And that's a whole process of give and take that, you know, That's been one of the funniest things about learning, mixing for me is figuring out different ways to trickle out in a sort of a song 

[00:21:29] Benedikt: Yeah, 

[00:21:29] Malcom: really really love it. And sometimes you got to, it's always challenging me. Um, and being like, okay, they're like the thing that worked for the last 10 songs is just not doing it on this song. It just doesn't want to get to the loudness. I think it needs to be at, and I have to figure out a new way to help make it happen. It's so much fun. 

[00:21:47] Benedikt: Yeah, it is, it is that's silly. Right? And so much of the loudness, um, is not, is really not in the mastering or the mixed bus it's in the mix and all these tiny things that add up.

[00:21:56] Malcom: Absolutely. Yep. Yeah. Mixing is [00:22:00] making me a better mastering engineer every everyday. 

[00:22:02] Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. Cool. Anything you want to add?

[00:22:07] Malcom: Uh, the last step is usually the post-production. And it's interesting that I wait that long, but at that point I'm kind of now once again, looking at it as a song, rather than an individual elements and the longer I'm doing that, the more inspiration is starting to blossom in my head. And I'm like, you know, this would sound a lot cooler if there was a riser leading into this course. Um, or if this, like there was a delay echo here. That, that like repeated the vocal tag again, and it sounded all watery and distant or something, you know, like that stuff starts coming to me. The more finished it is the more finished, it becomes the more easy it is to imagine a really? finished product. 

[00:22:44] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:22:45] Malcom: So then I started adding it in and that can be detrimental because adding base drops that late. It means reworking a bunch of stuff to make sure the place are up. Doesn't destroy your mix. But it's, it's Totally. doable and it's always worth it. And it's such a fun part of the process is like [00:23:00] just adding this magic sauce in. 

[00:23:02] Benedikt: Totally.

[00:23:03] Malcom: I did gloss over the whole drum sample phase. That, that syndromes as well. That's in the that's I guess that's in the engineering phase, but, uh, yeah, there's 

[00:23:12] a 

[00:23:12] Benedikt: was about to say,

[00:23:13] Malcom: picking up picking out what samples are going to be used in the song and mixing them in. That's a hugely creative and fun part for me as well. 

[00:23:22] Benedikt: Yeah. You know what, surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities. And I say surprisingly, because I assume that that's going to be the exact opposite of what I do so often is with the two of us. But now there is actually a lot of, a lot of the stuff you do is like, or at least how you think about it is similar to how I think. But there's also some interesting stuff in there. Like the post-production at the very end. I don't, I can see why I do it. I don't do it that way, but yeah. That's interesting. So you're done.

[00:23:53] Malcom: I think I'm done. I'm sure as you're saying stuff, I'm going to be like, oh Yeah. I do that too. And you know, whatever. Um, but the, again, [00:24:00] listeners, this is meant to be the quick dirty outline. If you really want. We're going to have that course for you in no time at all. Um, did we say that? Yeah. it's like days after this episode comes out, that it will be released. Right. 

[00:24:12] Benedikt: If all goes according to plan, then yes. Like I'm a little, I was a little hesitant to say that because you know, like life gets in the way often lately. So, but if, uh, yeah, if we stick to our plan, it's going to be out like next week, by the time you're listening to this. Um, If it, doesn't sorry.

[00:24:30] Malcom: Yeah, it doesn't make sure you're signed up for that email list. So you find out when it does. 

[00:24:33] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. All right. So. Okay. I'm just, I'm just going to start. So again, the first, the first thing is similar to what you said after you've, let's assume everything's imported into the session. Um, the first thing is what you call it, the quick fingers up sort of balance. The only difference and maybe it's not so different, but like the way I do it is I keep, I think I mentioned it in one of [00:25:00] the early episodes. I try to keep the faders at zero for my first initial mix. And I try to do the, the initial rough mix balance by adjusting the gain or the clip gain, you know, there's different ways to do it in different. Uh, but I don't adjust the fader levels at the end of the channels, but I start at the beginning of the channel. So it's like, if you look at it like a console, I have the faders at unity gain. So Sierra doesn't mean all the way down. It means unity. So I leave them there and then I grab, I hit play. I listened to the song one pass. And while I do that, I quickly grab the clips, the regions and turn them up and down or grab the gain knobs on the channels and create my balanced. And I have a view meter open, why I do that and I, what, on the, on the mix bus and I watch my overall level going to the mixed bus and I make sure. And I'm hitting it, uh, like a healthy level. That means usually turning everything down quite a bit to begin with. That's usually what happens if my fader stay at zero and then I just create a quick, intuitive balance. And I do that really quickly within, I try to do it within one or two passes because. [00:26:00] I want that to be my initial reaction to the song. I would, don't want to think about it too much. It's probably the same that you do at the beginning of the mix. You just do quick levels, quick panning, just to get an idea for the song. And I saved that as a rough mix then. So I can go back to that initial idea later because sometimes I go down rabbit holes and I kind of lose my initial balance that I thought was right. And if I go back to that and check against that, I'm sometimes like, Hmm, I guess my first instinct was better and that actually needs to be louder or quieter or something, you know? So the initial rough mix is actually pretty important to me. So that's the first step. It's a quick just balancing and faders thing in the beginning then. What that tells me, then that's another reason why I like to do that. What that tells me then is if I probably it, depending on how well it's engineer, I probably am not able to make everything clearly audible, depending on how dense the arrangement is. So there's going to be some stuff that it's no matter what I do when it comes to balancing, it's still going to be a little buried or other things will, will be standing out too much if I can hear them. So I'm [00:27:00] taking note of these things as I do this, this past, and then the. But I have to do the next step. And the next step for me is the cleanup. So I go in and I remove things that I don't want in there basically when it comes to frequencies. So I'm going to use a very clean without any sort of like, not a fancy coloration thing can be the stocky cue. And I just let's say I did my quick mix and I noticed. The guitars out, very muddy. So I'm going to look for the lower mid range and the guitars and pull something out. Or I notice a weird resonance, a whistling in the symbols and the guitars is something. So I clean up the upper mid range. I get rid of the things that annoyed me 

[00:27:34] sort I 

[00:27:34] try 

[00:27:35] Malcom: repair pass. 

[00:27:36] Benedikt: yeah. Repair pass, sort of, yeah, exactly. I don't think of. Color or any, anything really exciting at this point I'm continuing to repairing it. Yeah, you're totally right. Once I've quote unquote repaired it, then I do what you said when it comes to the, the re-engineering part. So I T I, I tend to sweeten. I like to sweeten the individual elements and making them sound better too, so that they sound like I would have one that [00:28:00] I would have engineered them, basically like what you said and that. I used to do that in the box only. Now I kind of switch too, which is a lot of fun. I kind of switched to do sort of ramping. So if there's, if I cleaned up a guitar, like, uh, let's say, uh, vocal, the cleaned up a vocal, I removed some sibilance maybe or seminar room residents or whatever. And I still feel like it's kind of not there yet. I send it out of the computer into whatever the stressor is, something I have and, uh, through a good signal chain and sweeten it up. And then I rerecord it. And that's what I'm going to use for the mix. That is not something I'm going to do in our mixing course. That's all in the box, but I switched to that sort of workflow just because it's fun and intuitive to me. But like the thought process is it's like clean up and then sweetening with. Caring about the interaction at the whole mix. Just like you describe Malcolm. It's the same thing for me. I look at the individual things and I guess this part comes with experience because if you've mixed so many songs You kind of know what things are supposed to sound like. I don't really need the context of this [00:29:00] step. Like the first two passes and even listening to the demo. Like they give me a sort of a vision that I want. And then also communicating with the artist. I have a vision in mind for what I want this to sound like, and I can absolutely listen to an isolated kick in the snare, and I know what to do without listening to the rest. I mean, I will adjust it later, but I have a pretty clear idea of what I want it to sound like. It's a little more tricky with guitars to me because they take up so much if the frequency bandwidth, and they have to frequency spectrum, and they have to kind of poke holes into the guitars to make everything fit in, you know? So that requires more context for me. But like for example, with kicks and snares and stuff, I can absolutely treat them without context and get pretty far. So, yeah.

[00:29:42] Malcom: I did to kind of help to listen to just a giant jump in for a second on like, why we're doing this. And it's because Benny and I are both fortunate enough both to have had successful engineering careers before moving on the mixing and mastering. Um, so we, you know, we've got an engineer [00:30:00] tracks and be like, okay, we nailed this. This sounds good. So we know what that is in our head. But now as mixing and mastering engineers, we've also received tracks from like the best of the best people that have just done amazing engineering. And you get, like, when you get a base DEI, that's like recorded at the top level, by like the best player. You're like, okay, this is the new bar. If I can make the track sound like that, it's going to be a lot easier for me to mix. So we're, we're trying to create. Home record attracts into something that sounds more like this, like really high level studio recording track that we have sometimes God, and, and those, you know, the better, the quality of the track, the easier it is going to be to mix. 

[00:30:37] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. totally. Right. So maybe we should add that to make this more relatable, to make this more actionable for you as well. It's like you have to, if you are mixing your own music at home, You have to deal with whatever you recorded. So you're not going to have that super pro quality thing probably. Um, we're now, so, and you're also going to have a hard time doing what we do in this sort of phase where we try to recreate that [00:31:00] because otherwise you would have done it in the first place, you know, so. Just know that, that, that just be patient, I guess, just, just know that you will develop a feel and an ear for that as you mix more and you will know what you probably have to. I think actually courses like the ones we were kind of release are what you actually need. Like you need to, you need to hear isolated, well done tracks. To know what the, where the bar is and what a good engineer like recorded signal actually sounds like. And then you can get closer to that and in every production that, that you make, because right. Yeah. It's got this part. It's going to be difficult for you because. Why would you, re-engineer the stuff you just recorded? You know, so that, I just want to say that we do that because we work with stuff from Sephora bands and we know how we would have engineered it. So we kind of do that for you. It's just that just be patient and learn, try to learn as much as you can about how raw tracks should sound 

[00:31:56] Malcom: Yeah. And you know what, there's always the flip side. [00:32:00] It's going to be so exciting to show how we can sometimes make things ugly or, and make them 

[00:32:04] Benedikt: Yeah, 

[00:32:05] Malcom: How ugly can also be the right call. Sometimes it's like, this is way too pretty. Let's destroy it. 

[00:32:11] Benedikt: Totally. Totally. Yeah, totally. And, and sometimes something comes in that has already so much harmonics or distortion or whatever on it that I, I intentionally don't throw any sort of saturation or any colorful tool on it. So it's also knowing when not to use these things and not to sweeten things, because sometimes the stuff is so harmonically, rich already. That I just don't want to mess it up. And I use clean tools only. I might do a little bit of repairing, but I don't add to that because otherwise it gets too dense, maybe. So it's also, that's also skilled in and of itself to know when not to do something to a signal. So, yeah. Um, so anyway, that's the like cleanup, like basic rough mix, then clean up then Sweden. That's what I would call it. Then I also started viewing things more in the context of the whole mix. So I'm going to do, and [00:33:00] I always sort of on solo or whatever, um, the tracks and kind of listen to the whole thing. But at this point, I'm, I'm focusing on the individual things more. And now after that, I focus on the whole thing more, as you did make them, I, I focused on the interaction between things. So what I typically do at this spot is I move to the next. I sometimes I do that even after the initial balance. So I, as I said, I have this view meter open and I watch the level I send into my mix bus. So that doesn't change very much from then. So I, yeah, I then jumped to the mixed bus. I adjust them express compressor. Most of the time I do some basic. Broad IQ sometimes. Like, if I know that overall things need to be brighter, I just threw that on the mix bus. Or if I think there's too much low end or not enough low end, I might do some, I'm talking tiny little like broad shelves and stuffs, you know, like then the adjustments there on the mix bus to, yeah, exactly. Do what you described. And then I go back to the, the mix, but I, from [00:34:00] that moment on. Mainly work on buses and not individual trucks anymore. And I have a lot of buses. So that doesn't, that, that doesn't mean drum, bus, guitar, bus, and vocal bus. That means, you know, one guitar could have its own bus. If there's multiple mics or, uh, there, there could be a kit bus that includes all the overheads and maybe it just list symbol, mikes and whatnot, you know? So these, these group tracks, I go to the. Uh, and my overall buses as well, and I try to paint more with broad strokes. I did the repair work. I did the surgical stuff. Uh, I improved the individual signals. Now I'm trying to make space for everything and I'm trying to add even more, uh, maybe some more color to it. I try to I listened to how the song feels at this point more than it sounds. So I listened to how it is the pump. You mentioned, how does the bass and the kick drum, how does the low end feel if I turn it up at this point, this is also the first time probably that I crank up the volume a little bit, [00:35:00] usually pretty quietly. I'm mixed, always with the same volume. So I have this kind of internal calibration. I know what things sound like in my room because I always mix it the same volume. With the exception of this part of the process, where I turned it up intentionally to feel the low end, to feel the air move sort of. Broad strokes decisions, and I'm not really listening for any technical details, to be honest, I'm just making sure it feels right. I just make sure I, I, I kind of have the low end energy that I want. I have space for everything in the mid range. Um, I turn it down also. So I hear if the top end is like to the store did or two siblings, I can hear that better if it's quiet. So I listen for those big picture things almost again. And then when I have that, when I've, when I've done that, I've I have a pretty good. Static mix in a way. No, after that I do. Automation mainly. So after I have the static mix, I go to automation and I, again, listen to the whole, the song as a whole, listen to how, what it [00:36:00] feels like. And I try to bring out the details that I want to hear. I try to bring out a little bass lick and a little drum fill, and I tried. Um, create the macro. I improve the macro dynamics, that the song I make the chorus pump a little up, like with a P or like pop a little more, or I turn something down right before the chorus so that the chorus hits harder. So I do these things and the automation, and that's pretty much the last thing that I do. A lot of people start with automation. I do that. I try to get a static mixed first and I'd rather use clip gain first and stuff like that to get a consistent static mix. I might do the occasional automation if there's no way around it, but usually I try to get away with. Clip gain. And then at the end I do a more detailed automation. Um, so yeah. Yeah. That's, that's basically I do it when it comes to the order of instruments, you described that pretty well, not come. I don't do that as much. I also start with the drums. That's the, that's a similarity. Definitely. Um, I also do it in a similar way as you described, but from then [00:37:00] I kind of switched back and forth and I don't do like first drums then this, and then at the, at the end I do vocals. Yeah, I do. kind of, I'm rambling here. It's hard. It's hard to describe than I thought it would be. So I do vocals in the end, but I, I think I'm, um, when I do the sweetening stuff, I go through a certain order, but when I view the mix as a whole, I go back and forth a little bit. I try to just follow whatever my feelings telling me. I, I, I just put the groups up, hit play. And then when I feel like, Hmm, in this part, I feel like it's more parts than instrument groups for me at this point. I, I, I listened to the first verse. For example, I focus on that and then I'm like, okay, I think in this words, this needs to come down. This needs to come up. This needs to be brighter or darker. Then I moved to the pre-chorus and I, but it's not that I then go through the instruments. I just listened to the. And try to figure out what is missing or what is, how, how does it feel to me? So that's sort of my thing there, vocals tend to be last, but [00:38:00] everything else is sort of fluid in a way. For me, it's more the, the steps that I follow, like the cleanup, the sweetening, the getting the glue and the character. Right. And how it feels. And then at the end, the automation, that's sort of the steps that I go through basically, and not so much the instrument.

[00:38:18] Malcom: See, Yeah. the automation step is kind of the part step for me as well. And it is late in the process. Like you just described the static mixes is there and I totally left that out automation. And Yeah. so it'd be like, I click play and kind of try and do it in real time if I can. Um, for as far as volume goes, maybe and, and just be like, oh, like, uh, oh, you know, sorry. Back it up worth mentioning. And most of my work is done on the loudest part of the song. Ideally it's the last course, because it's like a recurring common thing that's really important. Um, and so usually there's a power of course, at the end of the song. And I just jam that on loop and set all my, my static makes to that because it's going to be the loudest thing. So I know that anything before it's not going to be louder and [00:39:00] blow up every, all the work I've done. If you start on a quiet part and you set up like your mastering chain, for example, when you get to the loud stuff, it's just going to be crushed. Um, so, so that's important, but yeah, once we hit this automation phase back to the start, a song and click play, and how did my static mix translate to the quiet intro? Terribly. I got to do a lot of work and then, yeah. And then it's just, okay. What stands out? Like you said, it's like just the whole mix is alive. Probably. And it's like, okay, the snare sounds like it's in a fucking stadium and it's not meant to, I got to fix that, go at it with whatever I need to do. And that might be the automation and might be deleting, like tracks entirely for that part or whatever, you know? Really there's no limit, but Yeah. just going through and I I'll just continue to restart the song and until I hit something that needs to be addressed. 

[00:39:51] Benedikt: Yep. Totally. Um, when it comes to loudness, I maybe that's different from what you do, because what I do is when I go to my mix bus, I [00:40:00] have a separate mixed person, a master bus. So I have a mixed bus first, but my mixed compress compressor lives in the . And then I have the master bus where I do my quote-unquote mastering while I'm mixing. Or sometimes the real mastering, depending on how I do it, but like what I do. As I said, I like to listen at consistent volume. So I have, I have marks on my monitor controller. I have a spot marked that it always sits there. Just, I want to be calibrated. I want to know what, what it sounds like in my room. And it's, it's very important. Yeah, I absolutely think it is. And um, so I immediately know when I hit play and my monitor control is where it's supposed to be. I immediately know. If something is quiet or loud, because I just I'm calibrated to that. I just know what that is. And so the first thing I do when I go to the mixed, or even like in the beginning almost, but when I go to the mixed bus, definitely I'll turn up the limiter on the master bus as well to make sure it just like it. Yeah, it just kisses it, you know, I don't want to hear the limiting, but I just want to make sure it's as loud as I can turn it up without really limiting it. Just so I know I have [00:41:00] kind of a reference of how dense and how loud things are, because if I'm mixing, if I don't do that, the mix will be a lot quieter than then the finished stuff that I listened to on my system. And then I have a hard time judging that. So I bring the volume up in the beginning pretty much. So that I know, I notice when things incrementally get denser and louder and, you know, I want to, I want to notice that, and I don't want that to change too much. Also throughout the songs that I keep my gains, I do try to have like a correct sort of gain staging. So if I increase the volume of something by doing some huge weeks, I compensate for that. After the cue, I try to keep it the same loudness throughout. And if it doesn't stay the same, I notice it because I know what loud is in my room. And so, but enabled to have some sort of a reference, I have to turn up the limiter to, to give me that sort of spot that volume. I can't mix if everything is at peaking at minus 20 or something. So that's just, that's just a thing that I do. 

[00:41:56] Malcom: it's totally important. Uh, our, our [00:42:00] perspective is everything. I think that a lot of beginner mixers actually struggle with that because I keep turning it up because it seems it gives the illusion of it sounding better. And then you get really lost. Your perspective has gone. You have no idea how loud required anything is. 

[00:42:13] Benedikt: Yeah, I want to bring up one thing about the drum samples and then I'm done. Probably I'm done. Um, the one thing about the drum samples, you also mentioned that in the end, I do that also in the beginning when I'm sort of doing the engineering part of the mix, the re-engineering, and one thing that I noticed, apparently I do different from a lot of people. Now that can really say that there's probably just as many people to do it the same way, but like, what would I do? I think of drum samples the same way as I think of real drums. So what I do is I listen to the rod rooms, I do my rough balance. As I said, I immediately noticed what is wrong. And then I, if I think I can't fix it with just the drums that are given to me, I will pick samples. I will. Choose the right ones, blend them, print them so that they are in my session [00:43:00] as an audio track, just as a, as like an additional drum mic or something, I will bust them together with the original drum, send them to a group. And that's what I'm going to treat. So it's not that I'm trying, I'm not finishing processing the raw drums. And then I'm going to throw samples on them. I'm blending the raw rum with a raw sample. That gives me what I think is lacking. I combine that to get a new sort of snapped around, for example, and that's my snare drum then, and that's what I'm going to treat and what I'm going to apply. My S my, my treatment to, and that to me, gives me the most natural sounding results. If I do it that way, the only exception is if I do very. If it's supposed to be a larger than life and like supernatural, what I do then is I throw on some, one shots and stuff that sort of, I don't bust together. I just sent them to the drum bus, or I just leave them as they are, because they are already processed. I'm going to throw those, uh, onto the, the, the drums. That's the only exception. But if I want it to sound like a real kit, just better than what people sent me, I will [00:44:00] immediately in the beginning. I make a decision if, whether or not I can just get away with what I have or not. And then I will import a sample blended, create my new sort of rod rum sound and take it from there. That's how it works for me. And I've seen a lot of times also with people that I'm coaching, that they do a different thing where they, They import an already really processed sample. They tweak that individually. Then they process the raw drums. Then they try to marry the two together and it sounds like a totally overprocessed sort of mess. And they throw the room samples and everything in there and you know. They don't have a busing sort of structure that makes sense. And to me, the best way to do this, is just to trigger a snare close mic, like use a snare close mic sample, group that together with a real snare close mic, trigger a snare room sample, group that together with the real rooms and just build a new kit from there and just treat it as if it was recorded like that. That's what gives me the most, in my mind at least, what gives me the best results.

[00:44:58] Malcom: Yeah. I mean, it says a little different than [00:45:00] I do it, but, uh, the same the same Y and same, same methodology in that it's it's not like there's two snare drums. It's just augmenting the first snare drum and, and. Now that's our snare. I totally agree with that. I'm not alone. I actually use a lot of process drum samples, but I don't end up doing a lot of processing to them. Cause if they're, if they're not a fit, if I'm not like instantly happy with how they gel against the real snare, for example, Um, that I'm working with, it's kind of like that's out. I'm not going to spend time trying to make it work. It's just gotta be a good marriage and it's got to fill a hole. There's gotta be a reason if there's no reason for it to be there. Why am I using it? Right. It's not just like, oh, now there's this narrow sample. It's like, there isn't enough decay. I need some like something with a little room to it that adds to K or maybe. Uh, a common thing with self recorded is there isn't enough channels for a bottom snare. So I have some samples that kind of do that job for me and create the bottom snare effect [00:46:00] and, and can kind of fill that void in the snare sound if I need it. And it all goes to yes. And Airbus that I'm processing together. Like it's the instrument. 

[00:46:08] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Yeah. I think to, to wrap this up. I think the main takeaway here is that we both follow a process and we have a wife or for each of those steps. And you say you go back and forth quite a bit. I sit, I'd say I do a little bit of that in a particular phase of the whole. Um, Process, but in general, I think I always try to just move forward and not look back too much. I try to not undo things. I make a decision. I commit and I move on. I might have to do adjustments. Of course, if I bring in new elements and then yeah, and it does just doesn't fit, then I have to go back sort of, but um, it's not that I'm, that I'm tweaking and experimenting and see if things are going to work or not. That's the occasional thing when I try a new tool or something, but in general, I know what I'm doing. I only touch things when I [00:47:00] know that what I'm want to do. Like if I know something needs to be brighter, I'm going to reach for something that makes it brighter, but I don't just touch something and tweak it and see if that's better or not. So that probably comes with experience. I always think it's a good idea to just really think about what it is that's annoying you, or that you want to change and think about how you can, what you can do about it, and then do that and then just move on. And it's not going to be perfect the first time, but every single time you create a mix, it's going to be better. And the more mixes you finish, the quicker you'll get better. And I think it's much better to do 10 sort of crappy mixes, then try to do one in the same time and trying to make that perfect because it's not going to be perfect. And if you do more, you're going to learn more and you, I think it's just, just move on. And if you want to make a serious record that you want to release and you're not there yet, then just let somebody else mix it and practice on the side. So, yeah, that's, uh, that's what I think, uh, I have to add here because the, The just moving on, committing and getting things done aspect is, is [00:48:00] pretty, pretty big here because people will go back and forth so much and they, as I said in the beginning, they don't have a process. They clean something up. Then they saturate it. Then they do some automation. Then they go to the mix bus. Then they go back to the next thing, you know, all these, I wouldn't do it that way. I would come up with some sort of logical process. I think about why I do the next thing that I'm about to do, how to actually do it, then do it, move on. And if the mix is not the best in the world, just do the next one, you know, and you're going to get better over time.

[00:48:28] Malcom: it's being as intentional as you can be. 

[00:48:31] Benedikt: Yeah, for sure. All right. I hope I hope this was helpful. It's harder to describe than I thought it's going to be much easier when we show it 

[00:48:38] actually. Um, Yeah, exactly. But I still think it's, it's, uh, it's interesting for people to hear that there is a process that you can separate the heavy lifting in the beginning, where you clean up things and you, you remove the residences and all that, that you can separate that from the. Musical intent, like intuitive thing that we do later, we would just feel the song and we don't follow rules as [00:49:00] much. So it's interesting to hear that you can separate these things that it's not just one. It doesn't have to be just one IQ. You can use separate stages for separate purposes. And it's also the, the separation of the thought process and the mindset I think is important. I'm in a different mindset when I'm hunting for problem frequencies. And when I'm cleaning up. Then I am when I try to make things exciting. And, um, and I try to focus on the song and the art and the, and, and the, the emotion and all of that. That's a different mindset for me. And it's important. I think for people to know that you can separate that and you probably should. And yeah, so I hope that helped.

[00:49:33] Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. Um, the other takeaway, I think for me maybe is that I'm always fascinated by, uh, fascinated and experiencing the, the whole thing of like the mix has never done. And, and our listeners have commented in our Facebook community about how the tracking has never done that. Editing has never done the tone hunt. The tone quest has never done, you know, like art is really hard to finish to declare finish. And part of the reason that Benny and [00:50:00] I are, so system orientated and compartmentalize and, and have structures is. to help us finish things. It's like, if I check these boxes, I should have a mix at the end of it. If I do it in this order and get to that, the end of that checklist. There's no reason there shouldn't be a misc, uh, or a mix that I can turn in and, and release. Um, So I think there's a lot of value in thinking about getting things done in that way and how you can create your own processes that are repeatable and yield. Something that you're happy to declare finished. 

[00:50:32] Benedikt: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's all about the art and about not overthinking it. And. Yeah, you're totally right. We have to, we have to sort of get it done in our, just as, how do you define the end of it? They have the creation of it is like, you know, you're totally right. And also that the whole system, the whole systems thing is not only there to make us faster or to get more done in less time and stuff. It also actually helps the songs, like believe it or not, that the result will [00:51:00] be better if we are organized like that. And we can actually get it done because. Our initial gut feeling our initial reaction to what we're hearing is often the right reaction. It's often the truth. And the longer we spend working on something, the more we lose perspective, the less objective we get, the more we try, we question ourselves and we do unnecessary corrections and tweaks, and we kind of make things worse. And, uh, only to find out that what we had in the beginning was actually right. So there, there is a benefit to being a little faster. Being able to trust your gut a little bit, and it's not just about getting more done in less time. It actually makes the result better, I think.

[00:51:40] Malcom: A hundred percent, a hundred percent helps you get out of the way of finishing. 

[00:51:45] Benedikt: Yeah. All right. Cool. 

[00:51:47] That was interesting. Um, thank you for listening and we can't wait to show you actually how we do it.

[00:51:53] Malcom: Yep. Remember, go sign up for Benny's lead magnet or join the Facebook community. Just, you know, make sure you're close so that you find out [00:52:00] when the mixing walkthrough course goes live. 

[00:52:03] Benedikt: Yeah. You just mentioned a term. I think nobody in our audience has ever heard like a lead magnet. It's like, that is total marketing term that nobody's ever nobody's ever heard of probably, but I'm not afraid to say like, that's. Uh, you, you know what, let's this, you are all potential potential buyers for our course, which is called lead in the marketing world. And I have free stuff for you that I want to offer you. That is truly valuable, but also it's supposed to attract you to join my list so that I can then offer you my course. There you go. I said it. So that's the way. 

[00:52:36] Malcom: as it gets. 

[00:52:37] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. So download the 10 step guide to successful DIY recording, uh, go to the surf recording, bent.com/ten step guide. And, uh, then you'll know when we drop the course. 

[00:52:49] Malcom: Yeah. here's another knowledge bomb. If you're listening to this podcast, you just sat through like an hour worth of lead magnets. 

[00:52:57] This podcast is also a lead magnet that's meant to [00:53:00] attract you. 

[00:53:00] Benedikt: Yeah. Content marketing and lead nurture and all these. Let's stop it here, you know? Yeah, 

[00:53:08] Malcom: for listening. It's been awesome. 

[00:53:11] Benedikt: exactly. I mean, we gotta, we gotta make sure that this stuff actually reaches you right. Otherwise we can't help you. So. All right. Thank you for listening. See you next week. And uh, hopefully in this course, it's gonna be great.

[00:53:24] Malcom: Okay. 

[00:53:24] Benedikt: Take care. Bye.


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