Zen and The Art Of Mixing

Regular readers will know I l-o-v-e-d the Daily Adventures Of Mixerman.. I really can’t recommend that enough. Well, Eric Sarafin’s written another three (soon to be four) books, on mixing, recording and mastering… so was super keen to read each of those. I’ve started with the Mixing one, just because I love mixing.

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What was apparent about The Daily Adventures of…. was Eric’s writing style was so forthright: I was wondering how it would translate to a book about a relatively narrow subject (but with wide scope within it), and one with already a load of technical books out there (‘use a DBX 160 on a snare, use a 1073 on a vocal’, ‘let’s examine standing waves’.. this sorts of things) The great thing is, this book isn’t really about these technical aspects.. they are unavoidable when covering this subject, but this is a book with attitude, and, that word is key to why this book works. It’s made me look hard at how I have and do approach mixing, and raised lots of things for me to try in future mixes. It offers pragmatic advice about everything from pricing your skills to phase coherency.

Even opinions you might question are presented with such weight and with such eloquence you just think ‘well, if Eric says this is how it is, then this is how it is’.. or, at the very least, you feel better about sticking to your original thoughts because you’ve weighed up an argument

“Mixing is a game of confidence. If you’re confident, you’ll mix great. If you’re not, you won’t. Confidence in mixing is critical” I love this quote, and this is a theme that crops up a few times in the book: makes perfect sense, really.. we’re all tortured artists with senses of self doubt, but mixing is where the whole process should come together.. we should be absolutely certain we can make a kick ass mix.. its the producer’s job to have presented us with the elements…let the producer fret, not the mixer!

Anyway, whether you’re new to mixing or have been doing it for years, this book’s great: you will get technical geek stuff from it, but you’ll get a host of the thoughtful stuff we all go through : absolute gold.

As an aside, here’s Eric on Pensado’s Place : is it me, or doesn’t Herb like him?

 

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Best book ever?

Paul from Seamus Wong recommended The Daily Adventures of Mixerman a couple of years ago… and finally got round to reading it

ReadTheDiaries

It’s a satire based on the recording of a big budget album in 2002: back in the days when major labels threw money at bands, rich with the money from reselling catalogue on CD. Mixerman (engineer/producer Eric Sarafin) details his sessions with Bitch Slap, a ‘bidding war band’ : not particularly much to do with the technicalities…mic choice, pre amp settings and the like, but a massive amount to do with the idiocy of major labels, and the characters surrounding a band signed for silly amounts of money with the pressure on to sell hits. Well, to sell hits, they need to record hits, and that’s where the diaries reveal such a wealth of characters anyone who’s ever worked in the music industry will recognise. The recording of these hits is painful at best: ghost bassists, session drummers, girlfriends, preening singers, astounding wastes of money…all told in such a warm way by Eric with a story that unfolds in such a great way.Very much a time capsule in some respects of how never ending budget albums were made.

Mixer man clearly knows his onions: his people skills, the way he reads a room and the band, the way he recognises the dynamics of the team and tries so hard to progress the sessions is so interesting, and, so often made me laugh out loud.

This book should be essential reading for budding producers, engineers and bands: read it, absorb it and the mistakes that were made and learn from it!

More books to read, am some way into Zen and The Art of Mixing, and that’s making me look at mixing in a different way: great perspective changer.