Pro Audio Files

9 Tips for Preparing a Session for Mixing

My go-to guy for mixing these days is Matt Weiss.

We’ve been working together for some time and he just seems to know where I hear the mix heading. Plus, his willingness to try different things and not mix from habit make him a great team player.

Here are some tips on how I prepare a a track for Matt or any mixing session.

1. Science Lab

You may be a mad scientist during your sessions and come up with cool effects combinations. Not so much the regular type of processing, but the like that drastically changes the character of the part. You can’t expect a mixing engineer to exactly recreate that sound.

Before you send the tracks to be mixed, bounce those mad creations.

2. Pop Art Blue

When you make a cut to an audio file, it may appear that it was clean. Meaning nothing is going to click or pop. It’s always good to check and add a small fade at the end. This will prevent ghost noises from popping up later. Your mixing engineers time is better spent on mixing rather than hunting down noises.

It’s best to get in the habit of doing crossfades and fades while you doing your initial edits. The few milliseconds it will take you to clean things up during editing will save you a lot of time in the end. Expect it to take twice as long if you wait.

It’s very tedious to go though every track and analyze all your edits later. Finding a rogue pop is like finding Waldo. Let’s just let that freak get lost in the crowd. Who invited him anyway? Did anybody? Yet, he shows up. We have a term for that… A stalker!!

3. Gasoline and Matches

Don’t leave a confusing mess of indecision. Make all of your final decisions before mixing. Don’t send a deep playlist expecting the engineer to sift through takes. Make up yo’ damn mind!!

4. In Limbo

You may end up not using a few tracks you recorded. You may hit mute and leave them waiting for their moment to be awoken again. Don’t give those tracks false hope. Let them know your relationship is over. There isn’t going to be any late night ex-hookup. Move on.

5. I Started a Joke

I like cute names on tracks while I’m tracking. During the creative process it can be fun to have inside jokes. But, remember they are inside jokes. Unless the person mixing the record has been present during tracking, they’re not going to understand why there is a track named “potty mouth”.

By the time you send your final tracks out for mixing, make sure they’re labeled in an obvious manner. If you don’t, the mixing engineer is likely to rename your song “pisses me off.”

6. When I’m Cleaning Windows

After I’ve cleaned everything up and made all my fades, I’ll consolidate all my files. This way no fancy edits can get bumped. The mixing engineer receives one continuous file for each track. Keeps things simple. It also eliminates any issues of missing fades or similar bugs.

7. Map of Your Head

Chances are you’re not mixing the project for good reason. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have some cool energy happening in your scratch mix. It doesn’t hurt to send along a scratch mix so the engineer can hear where you were going.

It’s a road map. Maybe it will get ripped up. Who knows, but it doesn’t hurt. Well, it may hurt the mixing engineers ears. It will also probably boost their ego.

8. Love Letter

Mixing engineers aren’t mind readers. When you give them a mix, you’re going to get their interpretation. If you want to steer the ship ever so slightly — not talking about back seat driving here — it’s nice to send notes.

Consider sending reference tracks. Like “we were going for a drum sound similar to this track.” “We like the space in this mix.” General stuff. Write it down in one email though. Don’t send 100 emails with different starting notes for each song. You’ll be wasting precious mixing time.

9. Trashville

Don’t just bypass all plugins when you bounce your tracks down. Delete the plugins on the channel strip if you’re sending a session to a mixing engineer. Every time you open a project, the software will be looking for those plugins. Annoying windows come up. The mixing engineer will have to delete these if they don’t have them. Time consuming.

Conclusion

If you follow these tips, you’re mixing engineer will be able to put their energy to better use. Like making things sound amazing!!

You might even get a valentine from your engineer this year. Although, I’ve followed all these tips and haven’t received one from Matt yet. I’m still holding out.

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Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at guitaristmarkmarshall.com
  • emarsk

    Tip for listing tips: use meaningful titles!
    “Pop Art Blue”? WTF is this S*?

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