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I came across a video of Chris Lord-Alge and Mitch Gallagher of Sweetwater, where they discuss how Chris approaches a mix.
Chris lord-alge is a power house of a mix engineer who has mixed countless hit records for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, Green Day, Slipknot, and many many more.
I always wondered how a mix engineer like CLA can mix so many genres and have hits in all of them.
I really loved his answer.
“The song dictates the mix”
Did you catch that? The SONG, not the engineer dictates the mix. Yes I’m sure he has some go to mixing techniques to fit certain genres, but he lets the song tell him what to do.
I think that’s important for us to remember. A lot of times, and I’m guilty of it, we try to make the drums as big as possible, or the guitars screaming because we like rockin guitars, but what the song needs is just a little of this or a little of that.
We need to realize that not all songs are created equal. Songs should evoke an emotion, and it’s our job as a mix engineer to get out of the way and just reveal or enhance that emotion with balance and clarity so that it can shine through.
I think a simplistic approach to mixing, meaning less plugins, can be beneficial to the end result. I know from my experience, when I start adding more, more, more, my mixes get lost somewhere and I lose perspective.
More is not always better. Let the song speak to you.
photo 1 by en.audiofanzine.com, photo 2 by alchetron.com
Another Chris Lord-Alge quote that stood out was…
“The thing that makes mixes big is by monitoring really quietly”
HUH? You mix at low volumes to make things bigger?
It’s so true! I preach this all the time.
If you can make things sound big at very low volumes then you can be assured they will sound HUGE on big speakers. Another mixing hack I tell my subscribers is to Mix In Mono.
CLA also talks about using compression as a sound sculpting tool instead of just slapping one on because you think you need X amount of compression.
He views a mix as a puzzle where all the pieces (instruments) need to fit together just right.
Sometimes an instrument will be taking up a lot of the stereo field with it’s energy, when it only needs to fill up one spot.
He will use compression to make it tighter and contained in its own place in the mix. It can still sound big, but big in that one spot.
Compression can also be used as adding color to a mix. Think like a painter where a certain compressor and it’s settings can
make a sound that is like a different colors on a canvas. He uses different compressors to make things stand out in different areas
of the mix.
photo by pinterest
Chris Lord-Alge also said he monitors on at least 3 different sets of speakers.
Of course he has some high dollar fancy ones,
but he uses an every day “boom box” to see if his mix really translates in all environments.
If he can get his mixes sounding good on a “crappy” boom box, then he knows they will sound amazing on his high dollar pro
studio monitors, or in the car, or wherever you take it.
You can tell he really loves his craft and it’s fascinating to hear him talk about it like this. It has opened my mind on how I think
about a mix. Pretty cool stuff!
Pull up some Chris Lord-Alge mixes and listen for your self. They won’t be hard to find.
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