Advice on how to make good use of the meters in your DAW and learn how to properly read them.
You probably have an Amazon Echo or Google Home wireless speaker in your house. Almost everyone has a BlueTooth wireless speaker and they are only going to become more popular. The portability of these small sound systems is going to start setting new standards for music production. Now that music lovers can take music with them anywhere they go, you’ll have to consider what your mixes sound like on these little sound systems. So Yes, you will need to start using these little monsters as part of your post-production workflow.
One of the ways you can start to incorporate these speakers into your workflow is to mix down an MP3 of your track and load it up on your smartphone. You could also put it on a streaming platform that allows you to keep the track private. Either way, you want to try and recreate how others will potentially listen to your music once it is publicly released.
You’ll need to check levels and listen to how the compression reacts to the small speakers. I just listened to a few major award-winning tracks on 2 of my wireless systems. When the bass line came in on both of them, the sound got swallowed and started pumping the cones. It didn’t sound very good and I actually removed the songs from my playlists. Now these songs may sound good on a larger system, but they didn't not make the cut for the smaller wireless systems. This is a big deal! If your mixes do not translate well to these little bundles of joy, you’ll find yourself looking for another job. That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, so let’s look a few of the options that you can consider.
ANKER SOUNDCORE 2
I’ve had Anker Soundcore speakers around my home for a few years. They seem to last a long time on a single charge, so they’re good to have anywhere in the house or even in the backyard. You can now buy the new version and pair a few of them to a single source. This is good if you want to have sources to monitor in different parts of your home or studio.
They come in black, red, and blue. So you can pick a color that works with your studio decor. Right now there is a $5 coupon on almost every wireless speaker, so don’t wait and buy one today.
The wireless speaker system that is projected to be in every home in the USA by the year 2025. If you don’t already own one, it might be time for you to pony up and get one. To be honest, you could have more than one Bluetooth speaker in your studio to check your mixes. This line of devices will be the most common and probably should be one of the options you choose to use. I don’t recommend the little Echo Dot. Yet, it is popular, so maybe you do want one to use for reference. The nice thing about this line is that is has a SUB! For those of you that love bass, this may be a good option to check out.
There are some great secrets that have been used by engineers over the years. Dialing in your reverb with the mix has always been a challenge for many young and aspiring producers. Here are some tips from the engineers at Abbey Road studios on how to get a tighter and balanced reverb level into your mixes.
Every mix has one special element that likes to show off its plume of feathers. I call this element, "The Peacock" of the mix. Sometimes it is the vocals and sometimes it is the guitar. I'm never quite sure until I get in front of the mix. It just takes some time to listen and figure out what needs the most attention; How you should build the mix around the peacock is dictated by the array of colors present in the mix. If you display the peacock properly in the mix, it will draw attention to itself and listeners will be seduced by its beauty. The only thing you need to focus on is making sure the complimenting tracks don't get overlooked and the peacock will do the rest of the work.
Mixing can be an overwhelming task. Don't let it get too complex. When you start a mix, start simple. Do a rough mix in a short amount of time. Take the mix and listen to it for a few days. Get an idea for what you want to achieve with your mix. This will be the best approach to getting a final mix that you're very happy to put out publicly. If you really want to try and get a decent mix in a short amount of time, set a timer for 10 minutes. Mix as much as you can and when the timer goes off you stop. Repeat this as many times as you want and then take the mixes with you for a day or two. Listen to them and hear what works and what needs to change. This will train and sharpen your mixing skills to expedite your workflow and lower your stress.
We had a discussion last night about the struggles of finding the right sound for a particular song being tracked at the studio. The discussion led us down a path of thought that started to get us thinking more outside the box. The studio drummer, CRISPy CRUIZeR, was brainstorming a new plan to use microphones of all different types. What if the guitar amp was tracked with a mic designed for the kick drum? Would a D112 give us the bottom end that we're seeking? This got us thinking even more about using some of the gear in different ways. Maybe it's time to dust off the MiniDisc recorder and the DAT machine. What if the compression ratios of these digital machines gives us that little extra punch that the drums need to sit bigger in the mix? These are questions that get us intrigued and in this business, strange and unusual is typically the most fascinating.