The Mixing Game

Last week I got the first round of rough mixes from the engineer mixing my album, Tom Rosato ( 13 tracks for me to listen to, soak in, and take notes on. Mixing is such a subjective endeavor - what one person thinks sounds best won't be what someone else thinks sounds best. It really is an art. So, the way it works is the songs are mixed initially by Tom, then they are sent to me to compile notes on what changes I think need to be made. Less organ here, more guitar there, etc.

The main objective when it comes to mixing (and mastering, for that matter) is to get the song to sound the best on any kind of speaker. Whether it's a pair of professional JBLs with subwoofers or built-in computer speakers, you want the listener to get the most out of the recording. So, when it comes to listening and taking notes, what speakers am I supposed to listen to the tunes on? Or to put it another way: where do most people listen to music? Where do I most listen to music? The car.

To anyone watching it must have been a little curious for me to get into my car, turn it on, and just sit there for more than an hour. At least from the outside it looked like I was just sitting there. On the inside I was actually listening to each song 3, 4, 5 times, and writing down what I think needs to be improved or changed. I had 13 songs to do this for, so I broke it up into two listening sessions. We all listen to music, but most people don't realize how draining it can be to really listen intently to the same songs over and over in an attempt to hear the instricasies of the arrangement. It's something I experienced in the studio as well, and after a while you just need a break to rest your ears and your mind. But the best part about the whole thing is that a number of songs sounded so good that they didn't need a lot of notes, which is a testament Tom's skill.

Late Sunday night I sent him the notes, and after he makes the changes he is going to send me new rough mixes. Then I will listen again, take more notes, and we will finish up the songs together in the studio. It can often times be a drawn-out process, but one that is absolutely worth the time and the effort. I've been working on this project for almost 2 years, planning it for even longer than that, and it's good to be seeing the finish line. I hope you're as excited for the finish as I am.

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