I learned this trick from legendary mixer Bob Power. It’s one of my favorites!
Today I want to give you a quick tip that will help you make more of those moments of objectivity in your mixing process.
This tip was inspired by Bob Power, my mentor, who is probably known as one of the most legendary hip hop mixers of all time. He taught me this trick a couple of years back, and it seriously changed the way I approach my work.
When we’re mixing, we’re constantly battling a loss of objectivity. Every moment that goes by…every time we listen to a track…we start to hear it not with fresh ears. We start to adapt to the way it sounds. This means that problem areas – things that need to be improved – over time, the more times we listen to something, the more those areas will start to actually sound good. This is a big problem, because the more we listen to something, the harder it becomes to make the right decisions.
The moments that you are truly objective, or at least somewhat objective, are golden moments. One of these moments is when you come back from a listening break. Whether it’s five minutes and you just stepped away from your computer and you come back and listen to your mix for the first time, or whether it’s a fresh day and you haven’t heard the mix for a couple of hours, or whatever. These are golden moments.
What most of us do is we sit back down in our chair, we listen to the mix, and then as soon as we hear a problem, we stop playback and fix it…whether it’s an EQ move, balance decision, or whatever.
But the problem with this is that you’ve effectively blown your moment of objectivity – you’ve wasted it – on that first problem. You end up fixing that problem, but there were probably a whole other set of problems that you didn’t get to hear. You didn’t get to take advantage of that moment of objectivity because you blew it in that one situation.
The way to combat this – this is the trick that Bob taught me – is to get a notebook and pen, sit down, and when you’re in these moments when you’re listening to the mix for the first time with fresh ears, listen from start to finish. It’s going to be really hard, but don’t stop playback when you hear a problem. Instead, write down all the problems that you hear on the piece of paper while listening to the song from start to finish. Then stop playback and go down your list, one by one, and attack those problems.
What you’ll find is by doing this, you’re going to be able to get to the finish line faster. It’s a way to make the most of those moments when we really are able to hear a mix with fresh ears. By doing this, you’re going to achieve better mixes faster. You’re going to make more out of your objectivity.
Hope you guys found this useful. Shoot me a comment below and let me know what you think. Subscribe, and check out my website, BehindTheSpeakers.com, for more mixing tips.
Take care. Happy mixing!