Monday, 17 September 2012

Incremental Improvements

A concept from my mixing kind of bled into a general thought on life recently, the idea of incremental improvements.

When we mix all to often we are looking for the golden bullet, that one thing we can do that will fix the mix, that will make that track hang together perfectly. The truth is, a good mix isn't acheived like that, its sculpted from many smaller steps that incrementally improve the mix as a whole. They might be tiny, they might seem insignificant at the time. e.g. Limiting a bassline by half a db so that it has a small amount more headroom. In time though, these small improvements mount up and the end product is significantly better for it.

I firmly believe that the world around us operates in this way as well. We are bombarded with the idea that we need to make massive changes, that everything needs to be done insantly and be huge in nature and far reaching in effect. Everything is sensationalised and everything is hyped up to the point where we are literally crippled against any action because it seems so insignificant im comparison. The truth is that if you are making small improvements all the time, little changes that leave things in a better state than they were before you started, you are making a big difference, over time. And even if the difference you make is only small over time, the fact that you are making something better, creating a better world than the way in which you found it, or doing something positive in nature, that's a good thing and not something that should be easily overlooked. In fact, in my opinion its the point of all of this. Do something positive, even if its only a small thing - It matters!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Compensatory EQ

I dont know about everyone else out there, but I have some bad habits. One of them is applying too much much in my EQ when I'm mixing. I do this EVERY time I do a track and then have to go back and hack away at it after the fact. Its really bad.

I used to think it was because I was a bad mixer or because I was trying to make bad mixes etc. The real reason is that I listened to a lot of music when I was younger that had a lot of bass (dance, industrial, death metal etc) so my ears are trained to like certain kinds of EQ decisions (abuse). As such I've developed a good habit recently of placing an EQ on the master channel while I mix that compensates for some of these bad habits by exagurating them. For instance in the image below you can see my basic EQ that I use for this purpose. Its a 3db boost of the bass shelf from about 150, a 3db boost at 400 and then a 3db cut shelf of the hi's from about 10k.

I find that using this method, when I remove the eq afterwards, my mixes hold together a bit better. Then if I need to boost bass slightly when I reference them against other mixes, I have much more space to make that decision.