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Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? #3019483 12/14/19 05:19 AM
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I was playing the songs from my upcoming 2019 album project for a friend. Of the seven songs, I felt four mixes were done, and three needed some fixes.

She raved about one of the songs that I felt needed fixes as being one of her favorites. I mentioned that I actually wanted to make some changes on that one; I felt the voice needed to come up a little bit, and the bass needed to go down. After that, she listened again and said "Now that you pointed it out, yeah, I can hear what you mean."

The difference? She was listening to the SONG. I was listening to the MIX.

The concept of "analysis paralysis" brought this to mind. How much time do we spend going down rabbit holes to serve the mix, instead of serving the song? Of course, there's nothing wrong with a beautiful mix...and I think my mixes are worth the time I put into them. But aside from me, does anyone else really care?

What do you think most people listen to? What do YOU listen to?

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019487 12/14/19 06:47 AM
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Whether live or recorded, if everything is good, I'm listening to the song. As soon as something isn't right, I get distracted and can't focus on anything else.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019492 12/14/19 08:01 AM
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A great song with a less than perfect mix is far better than a less than perfect song with a great mix.

A great song with a great mix is a wonderful thing indeed.

Since opinions vary, it is worth the effort to try and create a great mix. Unless the song just sucks.

I listen to both but will not persist in listening to a song I don't care for even if I find the mix interesting.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019519 12/14/19 03:12 PM
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Unless the mix is so bad that it calls attention to itself, I listen to the song.

I listen to the melody, the harmonies, and how the different instruments are interacting with each other to make the song work. After I've digested all of that I'll listen to the lyrics as words instead of just articulations.

IMO mix is something studio people need to think about, the music itself is something the musicians should think about. A great many people can wear both hats, I'm not one of them.

Notes


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Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019538 12/14/19 09:28 PM
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I think I listen to the song as a default. But I always make a mental note of the mix. Some music, it's hard to separate the song from the mix - electronic music comes to mind on that count. But there's a lot a great music with sketchy mixes. Or mixes I just don't like - for instance I generally really dislike the mixes on most Elvis Costello songs, but no question, he's produced a ton of great songs.

As an object lesson in this distinction - I'm a fan of the alt/indie band Real Estate. Their early records get really low scores for production and mixing - but that's actually part of their lo-fi, garage-band, no pretensions, charming vibe. More recent records are produced way better, sound infinitely better but I have to admit I kind of liked them a little better before with the old amatuerish vibe going. I told my son, "jeez, this new Real Estate record - it's too bad it sounds so good" and we got a laugh out of that.

nat

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019596 12/15/19 07:15 PM
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Similar to J.Dead. I listen to the song, but if something is messed up, it can color my perception of the song, distract me, or in some cases, ruin it for me entirely. Same thing with production in general.

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019611 12/15/19 09:42 PM
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I listen to the song, unless either the mix is noticeably "off", or if it's something I mixed (of our covers band).
The Beatles' "Birthday" is one song that comes to mind as a really good song, which seems to have an unfinished mix. Maybe that was partly due to the band member relationship issues that were taking place at the time.
The only thing more difficult than listening to a song I mixed, is if I also sang the lead vocal.

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: harmonizer] #3019650 12/16/19 03:58 AM
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I listen to songs unless (as has been pointed out) that something is off. There is one song in particular "You Don't Know How It Feels" by Tom Petty where I think the drums are mixed too loud and I find it distracting.

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: PrairieGuy] #3019744 12/16/19 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by PrairieGuy
I listen to songs unless (as has been pointed out) that something is off. There is one song in particular "You Don't Know How It Feels" by Tom Petty where I think the drums are mixed too loud and I find it distracting.


I have the same gripe about a lot of 80s mixes - the snare in particular is mixed just ridiculously loud on so many tunes.

https://youtu.be/cibZydv3XLM

nat

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Nowarezman] #3019749 12/16/19 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Nowarezman
Originally Posted by PrairieGuy
I listen to songs unless (as has been pointed out) that something is off. There is one song in particular "You Don't Know How It Feels" by Tom Petty where I think the drums are mixed too loud and I find it distracting.


I have the same gripe about a lot of 80s mixes - the snare in particular is mixed just ridiculously loud on so many tunes.

nat

There are some clichés that make me hit "stop." Back in the 80s I had a string of production gigs with "new age" music, and ended up with a ton of promo CDs. I was culling them the other day; a few were good, most sounded really dated. But if there was that annoying ubiquitous "pan pipe" sound, I couldn't get to the stop button fast enough.

Some 80s gated drum sounds are done well, but some just scream "stereotyped 80s music." Same with drum machines; some songs use them well, others try to sound like drums and that's usually a fail. Stop button.

So I guess I'm in the same general camp - Iisten to the song, unless there's an epic fail in the mix. But if there are glitches here and there in a mix that aren't enough to bother me, I'm okaywith that. And if the song is really good, I'll give the mix a pass. One of my favorite Miles Davis albums is what might be a bootleg CD I bought at the Amsterdam airport. It was of a concert in Italy that sounded like it was recorded on a Radio Shack cassette deck - with Radio Shack tape. But it was his hot late-60s band, and the playing is just so damn good I put up with the sound quality and mix.

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019820 12/17/19 02:02 PM
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I follow the apparent consensus here; listen to the song but occasionally don't like a mix or parts in a mix. Really what I do though is analyse everything, oh they've moved to the flatted 7th, he went up to the iii, there's a real Strat sound! etc..
My wife, who is an accomplished musician albeit more in the sight reading vein, says I've ruined music for her now that I've got her analyzing everything also.

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Greg Mein] #3019851 12/17/19 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Greg Mein
My wife, who is an accomplished musician albeit more in the sight reading vein, says I've ruined music for her now that I've got her analyzing everything also.

Ha! That's why friends don't like to go to movies with me smile They're paying attention to the story, I'm thinking "Wow, that's amazing dolly work with the camera."

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019856 12/17/19 06:31 PM
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I am 100% instrumental.

Most of my listeners , AFAICS, respond to rhythm and groove.

IOW, strong rhythm , drums and bass.

I think there is some kind of assertion, likely by a drummer [ ?} that if the drums/rhythm doesn't click
the song doesn't work as well. IOW, a fabulous guitar solo is not going to over come a so-so drum/rhythm section.

Here are 2 PlayLists with songs portraying a groove, and featuring some of my work:

Progressive Heart Playlist
Song #1 is my latest , titled "100 Beating Hearts".

https://soundcloud.com/user-898236994/sets/progressive-heart

This is my SmoothJazz Playlist of 9 original instrumentals.
Song #1 is new, titled "Morning Sun".

https://soundcloud.com/user-898236994/sets/smooth-jazz

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019868 12/17/19 08:46 PM
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One of my measures of how much a tune (or movie!) works for me is specifically it's ability to mcaptivate me and keep me from lifting the lid/start analyzing it.

dB

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019922 12/18/19 01:33 AM
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Keep in mind that plenty of great songs recorded before 1970 had not-so-great mixes.

The layman masses gravitate to the vocal, that's what they hear first.

Musicians like us are listening to the other stuff.

Pro Audio freaks are listening to the mix.

Perfectionists can't stopped fixing the mix.

The first rule of mastering is to have an impartial set of ears. If I'm mixing my own songs, I consciously have to avoid favoring my keyboards in the mix, too easy to make them too loud. That's the #1 mistake that many guitar players make in their mixes, and I hear that too often in professional releases. I have to focus on what the layman wants to hear.

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3019947 12/18/19 05:01 AM
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I try to keep both modes of listening alive and well. I feel like, if I can't drop the analytical thing and just let the music wash over me and take over, then I've lost the heart and soul of what music is all about. Time and place for all things - a time to study and analyze, a time to just swim in the glorious noises.

nat

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: The Real MC] #3019949 12/18/19 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC

The layman masses gravitate to the vocal, that's what they hear first.

Amen. I basically mix voice, drums, and bass. All the rest is the support system for the vocals smile

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: The Real MC] #3019950 12/18/19 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
Keep in mind that plenty of great songs recorded before 1970 had not-so-great mixes.

True that, although some of them were exciting mixes. I hear a lot of great mixes these days, but back then, there was a certain excitement that may since have been sacrificed on the alter of perfection.

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3020040 12/19/19 12:39 AM
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I've been a live player all my life and here is how I see mixing for live performance.

The vocals, or whatever else plays the melody is the most important part of the music. It's what the average listener relates to. Everything else is the support for the melody. Never compete with it, always support it.

For the support players, in pop music the drummer is the anchor, and everybody else has one ear on the drummer and one ear on the melody while listening to the other comp players.

The drummer has one ear on the melody and one ear on the rest of the group.

I mix backing tracks for my duo. I make the tracks on a MIDI sequencer and use MIDI instruments. This gives me all the editing power I need, and I can even fix that occasional wrong note. I mix for live performance, not recording performance and there is a difference.

When you go to hear a live pop band what do you hear first while walking into the venue? Bass and snare drum. So i intentionally record the bass and snare hotter than I would if I wanted to listen to it on a home sound system.

I pan the drums and bass hard left and the comp parts hard right, but center both on the playback mixer (mono). That way I can adjust the bass/drum relation to the rest of the mix depending on the gig.

Mixing for listening on a home system? I've never paid much attention. Whenever I recorded for that situation, I let the good folks on the other side of the fish tank take care of it.

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Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Notes_Norton] #3020123 12/19/19 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
I pan the drums and bass hard left and the comp parts hard right, but center both on the playback mixer (mono). That way I can adjust the bass/drum relation to the rest of the mix depending on the gig.

That's pretty smart...an idea well worth stealing. I mean, being inspired by smile

Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3020165 12/20/19 02:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
I pan the drums and bass hard left and the comp parts hard right, but center both on the playback mixer (mono). That way I can adjust the bass/drum relation to the rest of the mix depending on the gig.

That's pretty smart...an idea well worth stealing. I mean, being inspired by smile

No need to steel, it's offered freely grin

It works quite well. We do a lot of yacht and country clubs where we play during dinner and kick it up for dancing after dinner is done. I turn the big 'zero sum' knob on the bass/drum channel down a notch or two during dinner, and after dinner when I turn the master volume back up, I turn the bass/drum channel back to the zero position.

I can also regulate the snare or the bass/kick on that channel with the eq/tone control. Goose the mids for more snare, or the bass for more bottom.

In addition to all that I also use a BBE Sonic Maximizer. I'm convinced it makes everything sound better. It also has a bass contour that I can use. I turn it up for smaller venues and down for larger ones.

Leilani and I have been in this duo since 1985, and we've learned a few tricks on our own, and appropriated some from others so feel free to use this one (It's my original but you don't need to give me credit) grin

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Re: Do You Listen to Songs, or Do You Listen to Mixes? [Re: Anderton] #3020846 12/25/19 02:35 PM
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I’d like to change the question slightly: “Do you listen to Songs or do you listen to Tracks?”

Most of the time I’m listening to the song, but my delight is when a single track, drums, bass, keys, whatever, captures my attention, and I fear I never actually hear the song itself. Until I’m on the 2nd, 3rd, or 20th listen.


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