We have all heard the expression "a mix is never finished, it’s abandoned”. When does any recording artist know when to put their audio brush down and declare that their masterpiece is done?
Mixing music is a full-on emotional rollercoaster. We rely heavily on our emotions to mix feeling into music so that the finished product has the best chance of connecting "emotionally" with listeners.
Emotions can quite easily stop us from finishing a mix. I remember from my inexperienced days that I would not finish a mix because the lure of polishing and perfecting tracks beyond what was reasonable started to become a better solution to actually focusing on getting the overall mix done.
Over the years I have discovered that I have developed some signs that these days I look for as these signs tell me I’m close to finishing a mix, a mix I will be happy with.
Taking A Step Back - The Bigger Picture
The first sign that tells me that I am close to finishing a mix is that I rarely reach for a control, fader or plug-in. Instead, I find myself listening to the music as though I'm just hearing it for the first time. When I'm close to finishing a mix I start to get bored of hearing the song with my forensic ears on, but rather I like to think of this as a sign that the mix is getting close to completion.
Does That Add Anything?
Another sign that tells me that a mix is close to finishing is one where I find myself looking for things to remove from the project that don’t actually add anything to the bigger picture of the music. It can be as simple as removing a plug-in that doesn’t add anything audible or in some cases just rolling back a small level send to an effects aux.
Fear Of Over Egging The Pudding
When using my control surface I will physically put my hands up as though I’ve made a mistake, some of my clients laugh when I do this. For me, it’s a way of saying to myself “Dan you went a step too far, there was nothing wrong with that vocal or bass, stop fiddling, you had it”. This is the fear stage of messing up or “over-egging the pudding”.
When mixing for a client it is never ultimately complete without their approval, which is usually around the time their budget is spent.
- How do you know when you are close to completing a mix?