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How to Get the Most Out of Our New Tutorials

We recently released two in-depth tutorials. One about mixing rap vocals and one about mixing hip-hop production (the latter of which includes stems). They’re both around 80 minutes in length and demonstrate techniques and processes for getting great-sounding mixes.

We’ve also been putting out free bite-sized tutorials on YouTube.

This article will explain how to get the most mileage out of these tutorials and truly expedite your learning.

The key to speeding up a goal oriented process starts with having a strong definition of the goal. So this brings us to tip numero uno.

1. Define “Good” Mixing

Early in the learning process, we tend to set out to mix without a clear picture of what we want. We know we want “good” but we don’t really know what “good” is exactly.

For me, a “good” mix is: (a) when the sound quality does not inhibit the enjoyment of the song and (b) the musical ideas are clearly conveyed.

The reality is there are generally extremes that we can assume aren’t good.

For example, either a thin sounding record or a cluttered sounding record would inhibit the enjoyment of the song. That’s where we employ idea (a). Then there’s this huge middle ground of subjective decisions — that’s where (b) shows up.

As long as those decisions are made with the intention of conveying the musical ideas, you’re going to get a good mix.

2. Watch Thoroughly and Play Sections Back

The pacing of each tutorial is meant to be fast and forward. A lot of information comes out and very little is repeated.

When I play an audio clip and A/B the before and after, listen back several times until you really hear the differences.

Replay segments with lots of info and pick everything apart.

3. Imitate, Then Expand

The process that I outline is meant to convey foundational mixing ideas. These ideas will translate basically to whatever you are doing, although the specifics will change. Imitating this process will give you a strong foundation in mixing.

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In tutorials where I provide stems, try to create a mix that sounds similar by doing similar steps.

After you get that down, try to beat the socks off of my mix by elaborating and experimenting with your own unique approach. By imitating, you’ll get nothing less than “good” — by expanding and experimenting, you’ll find “great.”

4. Reach Out

I’m not an inaccessible person, and neither are other producers and engineers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on audio engineering forums, and don’t be afraid to ask questions directly to me.

I make these tutorials and write these articles so that your engineering skills will improve. I also listen to mixes and offer feedback as much as possible, although its challenging to offer comprehensive feedback without writing a novella.

5. Be Patient

Chances are, after watching a tutorial your mixing will immediately improve to a certain extent. New ideas will be presented that will give you aims and techniques that you can use right away. However, the most dramatic improvements come over time.

Good mixing is not about techniques, it’s about decisions. And only experience can lead you to make the best decisions. Revisit the tutorial a few times over the course of… well, keep coming back to it from time to time. Keep locking in those foundational ideas. Not everything I do — even in a straightforward mix — is easy to hear. Some decisions take a developed ear. I’m going to keep coming back with more and more articles and videos to help that development, but ultimately it comes down to you practicing and taking your time.

Not only is patience a part of the learning process, patience is also part of the mixing process. I may be able to show you what I did in a mix in 80 minutes, but what you don’t see is the other two hours I spent arriving at those decisions. I may have a really simple EQ setting on a bass or whatever — but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have two compressors and a crazy EQ curve on there at one point. I may have tried A, B, C, D, and E before finally arriving at F.

6. Allow Yourself tp Screw Up and Do Weird Stuff

It’s ok to do a “bad” mix (assuming its for your own learning). It’s actually a good thing. If you feel inclined to do something weird or try something that makes no sense and go totally off the beaten path — do it. Chances are it’s going to sound like crap. However, those few times that it doesn’t sound like crap — it will probably sound absolutely incredible.

The stuff that you like that isn’t foundational mixing will become stylistic mixing. These are things you do, or approaches you take, that work for you. Don’t force it, let these things occur naturally.

Ultimately you will develop your own style of mixing that is based on strong foundation but incorporates your own unique approaches.

I hope that helps. I’ve got a lot more stuff in the works so stay tuned!

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com

Free Workshop Video: Low-End Mixing Secrets

Discover how to make your kick and bass hit hard by cutting (NOT boosting) the right frequencies! Plus, more counterintuitive ways to get fuller yet controlled low-end in your mix. Download this 40-minute workshop by Matthew Weiss, now for FREE!

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