Interview With Mike Senior Of Sound On Sound [Video]

| Interview, Mixing, Tips, Video

Famous for his “Mix Rescue” column in Sound On Sound magazine and author of the fantastic book Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio, engineer and educator Mike Senior sits down to talk recording and mixing in today’s video. Mike is a great mixer and teacher in his own right and was gracious enough to talk through some common issues we find in home studio environments.

Topics Mike covers in the video are:

  • How to reduce the chaos of mixing (12:53)
  • The best “bang for your buck” in the home studio (16:22)
  • The one thing that most commonly undermines drum and guitar sounds (20:10)
  • Why referencing is the best thing you can do for your  mixes (22:09)
  • A surprising way to approach EQ (28:38)

More Resources From Mike

For more great resources from Mike (including his famous multi-track library) check out these links:
Great articles Mike has written -  http://www.cambridge-mt.com/MikeSenior.htm
His fantastic book on mixing -  http://www.cambridge-mt.com/MixingSecrets.htm
Multi-track library from Mix Rescue -  http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-mtk.htm 
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29 Responses to “Interview With Mike Senior Of Sound On Sound [Video]”

  1. Rob

    Hey Graham,

    I was checking out your Mixing/ Mastering website. Great stuff by the way! I got to thinking… Ever consider doing a Rethink Mastering video for your education series? Is that something that can be taught? it would be cool to see your workflow with that! I would definitely but it!!

    Just finished your Rethink mixing course! It was amazing! I learned a massive amount! It’s been a mystery to me for so long. Thanks for breaking it all down for us!

    Reply
    • Graham

      Thanks Rob. Glad you’ve enjoyed REthink Mixing!

      Currently all I have for mastering is one of the videos in the JumpStart series. It’s about an hour long and walks you through a basic mastering setup, some tools I use, and things to consider. basically what you need to get going!

      http://www.jumpstartyourmix.com

      Reply
  2. Dan Updegraff

    Mike Senior’s book was the first information I stumbled on, and he became and idol of mine. Nothing beats hearing a before and after example. I tried a couple mixes from his Mix Rescue column, and he commented on one of my submissions once, pointing out things that I did “wrong”. That meant a ton to me. All my buddies and even strangers on the net typically say “good job, sounds great”, but Mike gave me something solid I could improve on. :D

    Reply
  3. Mario

    Hi,

    I’m very interested in this video but I could not enjoy it due to the bad audio quality at Mike side; is there a chance to have a revised version with enhanced audio?

    Sorry, but given my limited spoken English understanding the bad audio makes it very difficult to get the words…

    Thanks,
    Mario

    Reply
  4. Joesi

    +1 regarding the need to optimise what touches the air acoustically. I experienced the difference of recording with a cheap mic in a poor room and recording with a cheap mic in a great room. You begin to wonder where the true character of the microphone has been hiding all the time. Really, it’s like having a different, much more expensive mic in there…

    Reply
  5. Joshua C

    Thank you Graham for your ability to find the time to show us all that music production is not only about the recording, mixing or mastering. It is also about the contacts and friends you will make on your journey to becoming a grate artist, mix or mastering engineer and how each and every one of them can give insight and inspiration. Every day i am astounded at how many people involed in the industry are willing to help you achieve your goals.

    You are one of them, thank you.

    Reply
    • Graham

      My pleasure Joshua. So many have helped me along the way (and continue to help) that it would foolish of me not to help others.

      Reply
  6. Larry Saklad

    Even though there’s some garbled audio, I totally appreciate your posting this off the cuff & engrossing interview, Graham. Always gets me thinking, and then, back in deep to try more out, newest mix always the best so far! thanks

    Reply
  7. KA

    Hi Graham, hope you are doing well.

    Thanks a lot for this video. (I had recently bought Mike’s book and I am loving it!)
    This book together with your website make a perfect combination of a powerful resource. I think we do not need to look anywhere else in this department.

    Wish you the very best.

    Regards,
    KS

    Reply
  8. Michael Anderson

    This is actually a rather depressing video for me. With the exception of a Roland TD kit that I actually play (instead of using loops) and my voice, I use 100% softsynths and samples. Ostensibly, those have been perfectly recorded and no phase adjustments are needed. Yet I still cannot get the instruments to sit in front of the speakers, or have them present in the mix without constantly obsessing over just another half a db here and there, or get a mix that sounds good on all speaker systems (I will admit my Mazda 3 has a particularly terrible sound system, though the rest of the car is excellent). Yikes. Anyone know a pro mixdown studio in New Jersey that uses Cakewalk Sonar?

    Reply
    • Graham

      Hi Michael…I actually find samples harder to mix than audio I recorded myself. Not sure why, so don’t feel bad. Mixing is hard for many reasons. Keep at it!

      Reply
  9. David

    I have this book, but have not went into depth with it. Great interview I appreciate hearing common approaches to recording, mixing finalizing etc. I might have to go look up a subscription to sound on sound.

    Reply
  10. Mike

    Excellent point on choosing reference tracks. I have a reference selection where each is designed to reveal a certain trait e.g. brightness vs air, even bass response across the range of the bass guitar, etc. One thing I would add is to listen at equal loudness e.g. bring the reference down to the same level as your mix.

    Reply
  11. Mike

    @Michael, softsynths and samples aren’t always optimal for mixes so don’t blame yourself. A common problem is solo-syndrome where the synths/samples sound good in isolation which is not good for a mix. It often helps to find the presence frequencies of backing tracks and notch them with EQ.

    Reply
    • Joesi

      Indeed, it does. Phase is not only an issue with stereo mikings. Imagine two guitar tracks, one has been miked one inch from the cone the other one 3 inches from the cap off axis. in this case you would get phase problems due to the different distances.

      Reply
  12. Mike McLymore

    This was a great mixing informational forum for us out here. I would have never thought to not EQ what was recorded. Getting the sound at source is true and I great idea. Not sure about anyone else however, it’s a process I’ve always done when mixing. I will try this approach when recording live instruments.

    One concern I have is, after you have recorded your instruments or vocals, the sound captured may sound a bit bright on the high end or not enough bottom. I believe it may be because the kind of mic used. So, the question is, if the goal is to record sound at source and not EQ should not you in this case to acquire the desired frequency balance? I ask, due to the fact that I record with a Sure SM27, which I like, but know it is very sensitive and high-end heavy. Any comments?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Joesi

      Yep, that’s something I don’t like about the tip not to use an EQ. Basically, he’s right, but what he doesn’t mention is that you need a good variety of microphones to choose from to avoid the need of an EQ. That-and a lot of know how. and a great sounding live room with a dead end. If you try to “EQ” things with the mics you use you’ll know what I mean. It’s possible but it’s not as easy as it sounds. And here comes the main question: Where does “Home recording” end and where begins “Professional recording in a professional facility”?

      Reply
      • Graham

        I personally think EQ is your best friend come mix time. But I love the heart of what Mike (and Al) mentioned. Know why you are doing something when mixing. Don’t just EQ because you think you’re “supposed” do. If the track needs it, EQ. If not, leave it.

        Reply
  13. Tommy

    Very interesting discussion indeed!

    @Mike @Michael I don’t record acoustic instruments that much either because I do mostly electronic music but the bottom line isn’t different: I have been coming up with so much stronger mixes 1) when I took the trouble to make and tweak my sounds instead of using samples and factory presets… and 2) when I started making those sounds in the context instead of soloing them. Afterwards, I have needed very little any eq, reverb, compression… Mostly, my mixing consists of panning and checking out phase (and time alignment) – that’s 90% of work. And if there are vocal tracks, editing and fader riding takes a good deal of time naturally but the same principle applies to those tracks too -> if the mic choice has been good, it’s almost unnecessary to eq the tracks at all.

    It’s also been important for me to learn my how favourite records sound in my headphones and monitors and compare the results.

    Reply
  14. Patrick

    Wow! I have learned so much from both of you: Mike’s book & columns & Grahams videos. The best money I spend each year is my Sound on Sound electronic subscription. With that, you get access to all of the past issues going back forever; that’s a lot of answers to recording and mixing questions. Also, I bought the Kindle version of Mike’s book. I don’t have a Kindle, but I have the app on all of my computers, iPad, iPod, etc, so it is always accessible wherever I am. I especially like his idea of “unstable” faders; it really clarified where to start corrective measures. Great work!

    Reply

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