Same point as always

[part of an email response written to someone mixing into the dreaded PSP vintage warmer]

Personally I wouldn’t chase new comps/fx etc, until you really know WHY you need a certain different kind of eq/comp. Get to know the stuff you have. Obligatory Bruce Lee quote: ‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times’. Same with eqs and comps. Rinse them inside out. Nobody does this because it’s not as sexy as having 500000 new plugins.

If in doubt, do less. Always. The question is always, ‘can I get the same result but by doing less?’. Audio is delicate. By all means go crazy for creative effect, but when it comes to taking those sounds you’ve made/chosen and making a good mix, be gentle and choose where you apply your processing wisely.

Less means, less eq (cut 3dB not 12), less compression (1dB not 6), and definitely less interdependent/group stuff (don’t bake the cake). If it needs 12dB of eq then be damn sure it needs 12dB and that you’re not digging in the wrong place.

Cake stuff: Get each sound to be the dog’s bollocks before you tie it all together. And remember, when it comes to baking/icing the cake, I do have (sexy) compressors and whatever here. Just don’t tie my hands before it gets here.

[E.g. The drums. You liked the PSP sound I think, so by all means get fruity with that on the drums, but not on the whole mix. Basically move the PSP, set as it is, from the master buss to the drum buss. You may have to adjust the level to compensate. My life instantly gets 10000 times easier, and the drums still sound fat]

This all kind of applies going forward.

For this specific track, I’d consider removing all the processing and going to back to the ‘naked’ raw sounds (N.B. keep creative effects, remove mix effects). Balance the levels to taste, and I’d almost guarantee it will sound better. Then do the minimum you can to make space for stuff and get it so it sounds how you want. Do as much as you need to, but as little as you can.

Sorry if this is a bit over-philosophical, it’s just my perspective on mixing and you’re welcome to tell me to bugger off. Just IMHO, etc etc…

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