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Mixing on Headphones

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Hello, lovely people. Hope you’re doing marvelously well. Of course, as ever, subscribe, hit the notification bell, and you will be notified of when we have another video up.

Okay, so what do we have? We have another FAQ Friday. Frequently Asked Questions.

And we have some rather good ones. So let’s start off with the first one.

Where do you announce the giveaway winners?

What a marvelous question. I get asked all the time. So, several places. First of all, once the winner actually receives the goods, we ask them very nicely to take a photo. Most of them have. They’ve taken photos holding the mics, the Brazilian winner a couple of months ago — well, it was like a month ago now — took a photo with like, the twelve, or fourteen Lewitt mics he had around him, and of course, the IK Media, Amplitube, and all the kind of stuff, and it was just an amazing photo.

I think last week, we had a winner with the Rode microphone, etcetera, etcetera. The Focusrite ones, the Audient ones, once they actually received the prize — which can take weeks, admittedly, especially when you’re shipping to all over the world — Brazil, I think we’ve done Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, I’m looking at — Montenegro, we just sent something to Montenegro. Montenegro. Basically, we ship all over the world. Singapore, I believe, yeah, we did Singapore, I mean, you name it, we send it there.

I think we sent one to Russia as well. It’s been all over the world. So there’s no country that’s not included, so that’s great. As far as where else we announce it, of course, an email goes out initally to the winner. So once the winner is picked, we obviously, the first thing we do is we send them an email and we give them a few days to respond. Quite often, and we’ve had it before, it takes sometimes up to four or five days for people to sift through the hundreds of emails that they get to find out that they’ve won.

I mean, when our Brazilian winner won, he was actually completely mystified. He couldn’t believe that he had won, like, fourteen mics, and an Audient AS — what is it, the 800, an ID4, an Amplitube, and basically a whole recording studio, essentially, except for the DAW. He was completely overwhelmed. It’s a big deal, and that’s the point. There are some great, great gifts.

And then, once they have responded and said, “Yes, thank you, here’s my address,” etcetera, we will send out an email and announce that somebody has won. It’s usually in other emails.

However, we have decided to alleviate everybody’s fears, and also for them to check to see if they’ve won, we’re going to have a link, and it’s going to be called producelikeapro.com/giveawaywinners. It will be around here somewhere. So basically, everybody that won will be notified on there, as well as receiving an email, in case you didn’t see it. You can go to that page to see who won, and of course, once the person’s won, we’ll take a photograph of it and we’ll post that as well. So basically, lots of different ways to find out who won, and most importantly, we ship worldwide. We get asked all the time, it’s — even though we have a large American audience, and a large English/British audience, they haven’t made up most of the winners.

We have had a handful of Americans. We had one person in LA, one person in LA, which is pretty miraculous of the sort of 50 we’ve done, but they seem to be going all over the world. I think — it’s a wonderful thing with these giveaways is that people from everywhere, like I said, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, you name it, have been winning it.

Is your gear, or most of it, turned on all day so that it’s ready to go?

I actually, much to Bruce’s chagrin, turn off my SSL4000. Now, many of you that are 4000 users do that as well, and some of you use the atomic power supply. We still use the power supply that Bruce recommends with it. We are considering upgrading the computer system. When that happens, I will film an episode and let you all know. Because the computer is a little frail. There are lots of changes coming in.

I love this beautiful 80’s piece of history. It makes my life easy, things sound great coming right through it, the dynamics section is amazing, and my workflow loves it, and it definitely works on my brain. But the reality is, it is an absolute, unbelievable electricity hog. We have an AC unit in there keeping the power supplies cool, as well as a massive AC unit outside keeping the whole studio cool, and between that and all of this equipment, if we left it on all of the time with the AC units going, my bill would literally be like employing two people. I mean, it is ridiculous how high it is at the moment, let alone if I left it on 24 hours a day.

How come no one has come up with a way to eliminate that mess of cables to your left, what I assume is your patchbay? Every studio has that ugly knotted mess next to all of that beautiful gear. It’s a shame.

Yeah, it’s kind of a mess, isn’t it? Isn’t it, Eric? Spaghetti. I think what we need — I don’t know if you could ever — you could get shorter cables and they don’t lay over each other, but there are cables that are connecting. I’m not entirely sure what you could do. I mean, they’re all cables that connect permanently the equipment coming through all of the insert points there. So the only thing that I could do would be buy shorter TT cables so that they didn’t hang a few inches too much? I mean, that’s why patchbays look like that, they always tend to look a bit messy, because you’ve got lots of cables going backwards and forwards, so I’m sure we could dust them off a little bit and put a little hand vacuum over there maybe a little bit. Maybe there’s a little bit of dust on them, but essentially, a mess of cables is a mess of cables, and as you know, I’m not an expert, but I’m sure there’s plenty of experts out there that can tell me that I’m doing it wrong, and I probably am, but yes, it’s definitely not the nicest, tidiest looking thing at the moment. I’ve got your back on that one.

Do you have a service where we can pay for you to critique or mix our production?

Yes I do! I actually have two pricing structures. I’m not cheap. I’m actually quite expensive, because you buy my undivided attention. You do get a massive amount of information. You can send me your session in advance, we can open it up, I can make notes on it, we can go through it. I’ve done mix critiques with people, I’ve trained people as mixers online to great results. We can really get in there. I do regular sessions with Academy members. I’ve got three or four guys that I teach all the time, and it is incredibly rewarding.

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One of our Academy members who’s probably well known to anybody here who has listened to me is Jeff McDonald, and he’s over in Nova Scotia, and he and I actually spent quite a few months regularly going through and helping go through his studio. He now has one of the best drum rooms, and it’s an amazing drum room. We sorted out the mic pres, and the mics, and the mic positioning, and he would record drums, and he would send them to me, and I would critique them, and we would change inputs, and sensitivities, and microphone placements or whatever, and now, not only is he a great drummer, he’s also got a great drum sound.

So I’m very proud of that, I’m also very proud of Jeff, and I’ve also trained a couple of guys to be really, really great mixers. That one-on-one thing is expensive, but if it’s something that you can afford to do, it’s definitely worth doing.

What if you don’t have any studio monitors yet? Would you advise me to mix on headphones?

I know a handful of people that mix on headphones. I have varying degrees of thoughts on that. I haven’t yet met incredibly good mixers that mix on headphones. I do know that Andrew Scheps will mix in a hotel. I’ve done this as well when you’re traveling using headphones.

There is a thing with headphones that we have to remember is that they’re very fatiguing when you’ve got them strapped to your head. Number one. You’ve got to watch the volume. Most of the time, and the work I’m familiar with that’s been mixed entirely and only on headphones, most of the time, not all of the time, tends to have a lack of depth. It tends to get very, very up front, really loud, and that happens to me all of the time. There seems to be a spatial disconnect. I think the only way around that when you’re mixing on headphones is to mix at low levels and take very, very frequent breaks.

I do find that for a Pop world, headphones are actually pretty good. If you’re mixing Pop or you’re trying to get everything really forward, and really compressed, and really loud, and maybe overly bright, I mean, just like, in your face, headphones are fantastic for that, because that’s by nature what they do really, really well.

But I get it. Some of us are in bedrooms. Some of us are in our parents house, some of us are in — married with kids and not wanting to wake them up at 3 o’ clock in the morning. I get the restrictions of headphones, but if you can, try to at least use headphones and small speakers, and take frequent breaks, and car tests, and all of the other things that you can to give yourself a lot of variety of listening experiences.

Should the drum room be dampened or a wood floor?

Oh wow, that’s a fantastic question. Both? I mean, the reality is that my favorite studios I can think of are all fairly wooden. They’ve got parquet floors, they’ve got wooden slats on the walls, sometimes some cloth, even like a window on one side, the point is like, the deadest, deadest rooms I don’t personally like for drums. They don’t give me any kind of ambience.

When I went up with Jack to Pandora’s Box, the studio up there, Jack had dampened it down, and it was phenomenal, however, when Joey started playing drums, it was so damp — dampened down, I couldn’t get any big room tones. So what we did was we pulled back some carpets, reduced a bit of dampening, and suddenly this big warehouse came alive again. And it’s that kind of thing, is like, you don’t always want it to be so dampened that your drums are like, [emulates drums].

There are songs where you’ll need that in, but my answer is both. If you’ve got a wood floor and a carpet, you want to roll the carpet up, do that.

It’s kind of nice to have ambience. If not, just record drums in a tiny little room and then add the ambience with reverb, or samples, or whatever you want to use. That’s kind of what we do in our drum room. It’s not big enough to really get any kind of great ambience going with it. We used the vocal mic as a room mic, but then we’ll put reverb on it to make it bigger. We get an overall view of the kit, but then we put reverb on that microphone.

What is your workflow for broadcasting live on YouTube?

Wow, for broadcasting live. Phew! We just set it up in advance. At least, a couple of hours in advance. We usually go live on Thursdays at the moment. I’m sure it will change, but we usually go live on Thursdays, and frankly, we just send out an email reminder to our email list, and I think YouTube will do, maybe not an email, but they’ll put a little notification that we’re going live, and that’s it!

There’s not a lot to it. I do like going live on YouTube. It’s tough sometimes to answer all of the questions, because there’s always 300 or 400 people on live at the same time. It is absolutely incredible, but please, when you do go on live, please don’t hesitate to ask me musical questions. I love being able to answer it. And as you can tell, I’m a little ADD. I can, like, answer it, say hello, and keep a conversation going. It’s a challenge, but it fulfills the way my brain works, so I kind of like the challenge a bit, frankly.

So once again, thank you ever so much for all of the incredible questions. Please, as ever, subscribe, hit the notifications bell. There’s going to be more exciting videos coming out. Those who haven’t yet, please check out producelikeapro.com. You can sign up for the email list, you get tons of notifications, you get free stuff, you get free sessions, you get free drum samples, you get some free videos, and you’ll get notified of all of the fun things that we do, and of course, you can try out The Academy for a 14-day free trial, or you can just join it, and you can also do it monthly as well.

Alright, have a marvelous time recording and mixing. See you all again next week!

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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