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When is a Mix Finished?

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Okay, so we’re doing another FAQ Friday. That’s Frequently Asked Questions. Let’s get started.

Imagine there is no budget pressure and you do not have deadlines. How do you know that a mix is finished?

That’s a really interesting question, because I don’t know that even without a budget issue or a deadline that I’d do anything any differently. There’s only a few times where I’ve got X number of days, and I have to force myself to mix songs super quickly, which is very rare. I usually allow easily enough time to mix.

So really for me, it’s like, we go in a mix, and we have, you know, a week to mix an album or 10 days. If you’ve got at least a week to do 10 songs, that’s more than enough time for me now. I might spend a day or a day and a half on the first song, then after that, I’ll start to have a template, or at least a sonic idea of how the rest of the album should sound.

So the next day, I might get one song done. The day after that I might get two. Then the next two or three days, I get two songs a day. So you can see how it works, and then we’ll do a day of recourse.

So a week typically is long enough. The only way this would sort of work in the scenario you’re talking about is if I only had two or three days to mix a whole album. Otherwise, I’ve always got enough time.

So even after you maybe have had three weeks to mix an album, if you came back a year later, you’d probably hear something you missed, or you probably hear something you spent a long time doing and wish you hadn’t done.

So it’s a bit of a difficult question to answer. I think with on budget constraints, I probably would have an infinite amount of really expensive compressors and EQs that I might barely use. You know, like a Manley Vari-Mu. Maybe 8 of them.

You know what I mean? Put them on the guitar busses, on the piano buss, maybe just one tapping the master buss. You know, that’s — the Manley Vari-Mu is a pretty tasty piece of equipment. I know a lot of mastering engineers still use it in their chain, so that tells you a lot about that.

I love the way that they tuck in the high end, just make things feel really good. I suppose that without a budget, some of those, maybe a couple of beautiful Fairchilds. I’d be very excited to use Eric Valentine’s UnFairChild. Two or three of those. I don’t think even Eric uses two or three of those.

So I think in a perfect world where I could just feed signal through some beautiful equipment if there was no budget constraints, maybe I would have all of these things at my fingertips, however, they’ll probably make a subtle difference to the mixing. It would be more of just a beautiful feeling to have endless amounts of gear, but most of the time, I have what I need.

As you can see from behind me, I have an SSL, I have a lot of outboard, and I have a beautiful Pro Tools system full of incredible plugins, and I lean very heavily on the plugins.

You know, you and I can mix the same. You know, if you’ve got a decent amount of plugins, be them stock, or Waves, or McDSP, etcetera, SoundToys, obviously, if you’ve got those same kind of things, you and I can do the same mixes.

So it’s a tough one. I think endless budget means that I could get a lot of external hardware. Maybe have some fun tape delays to play with. I don’t know if necessarily they would make a huge difference from using digital emulations of tape delays. That’s going to maybe upset a few people.

The thing about a tape delay is each one is different. I have an EchoPlex over there. It sounds the way it sounds. Another EchoPlex doesn’t sound the same. The condition of the tape changes. So you know, time and money is a useful thing, but I think it would probably be more about having analog equipment than anything else.

I think using the equipment I have at the moment, I don’t really need any more time to mix a song. I think it’d be about having more fun toys to play with. I don’t honestly know if the mix would suddenly grow massively in quality, I would just have a little bit more fun and enjoyment with an endless budget of just being able to play with things, you know.

Warren, do you ever make use of any subwoofers when you mix?

I used to have a subwoofer under the console for the first two or three years of having the studio. After awhile, I stopped turning it on. I stopped using it. I started to get used to the room. However, I recommend them, especially with smaller speakers. With NS10s, subwoofers are pretty darn useful, otherwise, once you get used to your room, you’ll find yourself not turning them on as much.

However, it’s a nice, useful tool to have when you go to a room you don’t know to have the extra oomph so you can feel the low end.

So it’s — I recommend them. If you’ve got some smaller speakers, we’re going to be talking very soon about some small speakers that are coming out that I’m very excited about. Once we talk about those, they’re a very reasonable price, they sound great, those with a subwoofer could probably get you through 99.9% of situations.

I do recommend them with small speakers. With like six or eight inch. You know, eight, six, four, five inch, smaller drivers, I think a subwoofer is a good idea.

However, in some rooms, it might not work. If you’re in a very, very small environment, it might not work, but Yamaha do like, $120 subwoofer that you can buy for home stereos — for home movie theaters, sorry, and I used to use that with NS10s and it worked really well.

What are your thoughts on Gretsch guitars?

I love Gretsch guitars. I really do. I have no affiliation whatsoever. Gretsch, you don’t have any affiliation with me, you don’t know me, I don’t know you, but I was just over at Bob’s house, and he has — Bob Marlette’s — and he has a Tennessean. And it’s gorgeous. I think it was about two grand or something like that. It is absolutely gorgeous. It plays beautifully.

I don’t want to get too contentious, but I think the new ones they’re making now have a neck that I really prefer compared with some of the older ones, which used to have that really, really harsh kind of edge. Super wide and harsh.

These, they’ve softened out a little bit, and they’re very pliable.

I know I was working with The Bangles in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. Vicki had a couple of Gretsches, and they were really beautiful. Sue played Rickenbackers, so both played kind of slightly — I’m not going to say exactly, but slightly left of center guitars, and I loved both of them. So I’m a huge fan of Gretsch. They make great guitars, especially now.

Very — I wouldn’t say affordable, but incredibly well made for the money.

You’ve mentioned a few times about using the Waves MV2 on a bass guitar. Can you do a short video of it in action?


Yes, I can. It will be coming out very soon. Watch YouTube and you’ll see.

By being a part of The Academy, is it possible to get discounts on mics?

Actually, yes. The reason why this came up I think is because I was doing one of our live streams, and some of The Academy members on the live stream were talking about Lewitt microphones, and yes, Lewitt do give us an educational discount, which was really fantastic of them, and on some mics, it’s pretty massive.

So yes, as an Academy member, you do get a discount on Lewitt mics.

Can you show us how to record an acoustic guitar and a vocal at the same time?

That is a question I get asked all the time, and yes, I am going to do that. I think that’d be a really, really wonderful idea, so thank you for reminding me. I’ve been asked a whole bunch of times, So thank you for this last person who just recently asked, we’ll come up with that very soon.

Do you add effects pre- or post-recording guitar?

This is a wonderful guitar. Yes and no. I do both. Often, if I’m doing like, lead lines, and not necessarily ultra syncopated lines, but like, lead lines and stuff, I’ll use the delays pedal form into the amp. I love the way they sound. Absolutely love it.

However, if you want it really ultra syncopated with the track, then it’s best to — not best, but I usually record the guitar, do any edits to the performance to make it tight, and then trigger like, an H-Delay or something like that inside of my DAW.

Or you know, a SuperTap. One of those kind of delays inside of the program. You can have the H-Delay default to the actual tempo of the song. So I do that all the time.

You can, and I still do do it by just tapping my foot on my Carl Martin echo pedal over there. I love — it’s called the Echo Tone, it’s a beautiful pedal, it has a tone control, I can make it darker, I love it, and I will often just do that. Especially lines, and even on those “chucka-chucka-chucka” kind of delay lines where I don’t want the delays to be too tight, and I want them to kind of fatten it up, but if you want it exact and you want it perfect, do it afterwards in your DAW.

Any suggestions on the best acoustic guitar in the $500-600 range?

You know, I’m completely and utterly biased, 100% biased, and no I don’t get a fee for it, but it is a guitar that Andrew is about to hand me over here — anyone that follows me — yes, that one there, this is it. This is the one. It’s the Yamaha LL16, and I absolutely love it.


Love this guitar. I’ve used it on every record I’ve made in the last like, 5 or 6 years, maybe even 7 when I’ve got it. I got it about the same time I got this studio, maybe 7 years ago, so maybe got it just a bit after that. Yamaha have — I’m going to throw them under the bus, they’re going to hate me for it, but they have a really amazing rep called Scott Marceu who I’ve had the pleasure to know now for about six or seven years.

I’ve always been a fan of Yamaha guitars. The — I don’t know where it might — oh, Max has it from the band, from the Matthews. I have a late 70’s, early 80’s FG series guitar, probably worth $200, and I’ve had that for 20 something years, maybe even longer, and I’ve written most of the songs that I write on that guitar, so when I got for me something from Yamaha, I said, “Oh, I love Yamaha acoustics.”

He was like, “You do?” And I was like, “Yeah, I do.” And lo and behold, I got that, and I got two of those guitars, and I’ve just always been a fan. You know, they’ve been my main guitar. I’ve heard from a lot of people that a lot of players in Nashville use them for recording, and there’s a really big resurgence and an understanding that they’re affordable and sound amazing.

I think — it’s not even so much that they sound amazing in their room, which they do, they just really record well, and considering I’m a producer and an engineer, it’s good that I have a guitar that records well.

So I see these going for about $600, $700, they’re called Yamaha LL16s. That’s 16.

Highly recommend it. No, I don’t make any money from it, but it doesn’t matter. I’m sure we’ll put a link down there you can click on and check it out.

Alright, the last question, this is a good one, and definitely worth us focusing on.

I was wondering if there was any advantages/disadvantages to recording the same guitar part twice versus duplicating?

Okay, if you’re in a situation — put it this way, I’ll simplify it. If I’m mixing somebody’s songs, and they haven’t given me a double of something, like a guitar part, electric, or acoustic, the worst case scenario is this. I will duplicate the part, and then pan them away from each other, then delay one of them, but also put a pitch change on it.

I find just a Haas effect, however you want to pronounce it, I don’t like it. I don’t like that sound. I don’t like the potential phasing it causes. It always makes me feel a little odd listening to it with headphones on in particular or just sitting between speakers, but if you do have to do it to double up something and make it sound thicker, make sure that you also adjust the pitch.

Put a chorus on it, detune it, something. Make it so it feels wider. Otherwise, if you’re recording, duplicate the part, play it again. Get a proper double of it.

The other thing you can do is somebody gives you something to mix, and they’ll give you one guitar part that you want to double. Maybe go to the second chorus. If it’s a different performance, hopefully, pull that across and double it up. Then take chorus one and put it on chorus two. You get my idea. Then take chorus one or two and put it on chorus three.

There are many, many ways to double guitar without using the same guitar, but if you have to use the same guitar, pan it away from itself, delay it significantly, which is going to be at least 30 milliseconds, maybe more.

I usually use like, a 64th of a note minimum of the track, then I will detune it or put a chorus or a flanger on it to not only time it differently, but also pitch it differently, so there’s less chance of that making me feel super dizzy.

But when you can if you’re recording, double the guitar part, definitely.

So thank you everybody for another marvelous FAQ Friday, and I’m looking forward to — there’s more incredible questions. Have a marvelous time recording and mixing. Check out the LL16 link, I’m sure there’s one down there. Also, the MV2, a plugin we talk about a lot. It’s absolutely wonderful. H-Delay is another amazing plugin. These are things that we talk about because we use them all the time.

Have a marvelous time recording and mixing, and I’ll speak to you all again very soon.


Warren Huart

Warren Huart

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

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