The Production Notebook VI: Mixing “Ruin”

Saturday night mixing session.  “Ruin” is probably the song that needed the least work, yet somehow, thanks to Scott’s sonic compulsive disorder, it turned into all night mix session (not a bad thing to have a mixing engineer obsessed with auditory perfection, but at this point I’m ready to have things songs out so I can move on).

We spent an appropriate two hours before taking a break for coffee, but upon coming back we spent about five.  One of the first rules of mixing is to give your ears regular breaks.  By five in the morning, brains and ears were exhausted and, though I haven’t had time to do a side by side comparison, I’m afraid we’ve lost a few things, in particular the raw balance the song had.  The arpeggiated bass synth is giving us the most trouble at this point, trying to maintain its character and, at the same time, leave it as one of the primary musical elements in the song.  Scott brought some of the high end out in the vocals, and with a bit of work, gave it some of its missing detail.  The main kick is punchier, heavier, and though I didn’t want to make any creative decisions at this point, we ended up with three versions of it for different parts of the song.

As stated, I’ve not listened to it since Sunday morning as I need a couple days to recover my senses and listen again objectively.  I plan to do a side by side comparison of my previous mix and this weekend’s mix to see what is right or wrong still.  There was no objectivity or comprehension of the big picture mix by the end of the night.

What I can say with certainty is that, despite some areas of pronunciation I’m not completely content with, I am quite happy with the results of the vocals.  I tried a few things that I’d never done with vocal processing before, and am quite pleased with the results.  If all goes well, I will post a pre-mastered version on soundcloud before long.

Upcoming production work:  vocal recording and mixing for “Voices,” a new mix of “The Temptation of Saint Anthony,” and reviving an old fan favorite, “A New Man,” to round out Chapter One.

Scott at our mixing piano. Why, yes, the monitors are on a piano. What, that’s not acoustically sound?

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