Once recording is finished, we will usually send the artist a rough mix of the song, so they can listen back over it, judge it with fresh ears and send us any feedback or notes they might have for the mix.
We also mix projects that have been recorded in other studios or by the artist themselves at home, in which case we will listen to the latest version of the song, and discuss what the artist wants from the finished sound, things they may or may not like about the recordings etc.
On average mixing takes about a day per song and we agree a price per song depending on the complexity of the production and the amount of editing required.
Mixing can be one of the most challenging and misunderstood processes in music production, and since the early days of recorded music it has evolved from a process of simply deciding how loud each instrument should be, to a process where a mix can majorly shape the identity and style of a piece of music. Some of the more obvious choices made during mixing involve applying reverbs, delays or other effects to create certain atmospheres in a song. Often during recording we will have already made decisions on some of these sounds, so these can just be refined and built upon during mixing.
However modern mixing also increasingly involves shaping sounds with compression, distortion and saturation to have more impact or to be tamed, and a lot of time can go into creating a different feel from one section of a song to the next, to make a chorus feel like it explodes into life, or a bridge to feel like a quiet moment of contemplation for example. In some ways a mixer can be like the conductor of an orchestra, taking a number of individual elements all doing their own brilliant part, and making them work together as one to create a sound that really draws in the listener.
With a wide range of tools at our disposal, it's possible to give a song a retro feel, a more contemporary or even futuristic edge, or aim for a very natural presentation of the music as it was played in a real room.
Editing will also take place during mixing, often combining the best parts of multiple takes to get the most compelling performance or simply to take out any distracting mistakes or unintended noises. Editing can also get extremely creative depending on the genre. Audio can be reversed, stretched and changed in pitch for creative purposes in many genres, and it can often be far more subtle than you’d imagine.
Mixing always happens separately to the recording process and we prefer not to have the artist present at the studio for mixing, as they can listen to the mix with a totally fresh perspective at home on speakers or headphones they are used to listening on. This fresh perspective from the artist can be extremely valuable, and in this way there is an important element of collaboration to mixing. In most cases the artist may want some small tweaks made to the firs mix based on personal preference and then the song is signed off on.
Other times songs may be more complicated and require another version or two to really zone in on the artist's vision. It is unusual for mixes to need more than 2 or 3 revisions as we have usually done our homework and know what the artist is looking for, and often doing too many mix revisions can result in even more indecision and second guessing, so we encourage the idea of committing to a direction early on and avoiding too many versions. Throughout the production process we always aim for the artist to feel excited about their song.
After pre production and recording we hope that the artist listens to the rough mix and hears a great version of their song which may only have ever lived in their imagination, and when they hear the final mix we hope they are blown away by it and really feel as much emotion from it as they put into creating it.