3 Mixing Secrets From The Legendary Andy Wallace

| Interview, Mixing, Producer Profile, Tips

If you like hard hitting rock mixes, then you probably like Andy Wallace’s work.

Famous for mixing Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, and even Guns N Roses – this guy has been crushing it in the studio for over 50 years! The sad thing is, he rarely sits down with the media. So when I saw Sound On Sound landed a major interview with him I was pumped.

Wallace is a brilliant craftsmen, and I wanted to pull out three of the his biggest “secrets” to mixing from the interview and share them with you here.


Photo from Mix With The Masters by Victor Lévy-Lasne


Secret #1 – The Quick Mix

All too often when mixing we like to start off by doing major surgery. We want to dive in and start “making things sound better” – whatever that means. I’ve suggested for years that a great mix starts with a super quick mix. It seems Andy Wallace works this way as well.

I’ll usually be throwing things up very quickly, almost like doing a quick monitor mix, and balance everything very quickly, just to see how all the elements are supposed to sound together, and I have a basic feeling of the entire track. – Andy Wallace, Mixing Legend

There’s a reason why Andy does this (and you should too). Actually two reasons.

First doing a quick mix before you dissect each element individually is smart because you start with the whole song in mind and make better choices of where to place volume faders and pan pots. You are listening like your audience will.

Secondly, by working quickly on this mix you don’t have time to over-think things. Your first impression is generally correct, so in one sense by moving quickly you are preventing yourself from screwing things up.

Secret #2 – One EQ/Compressor

One thing that surprised me was to hear Andy Wallace explain that he pretty much only uses the same eq and compressor on each track in each mix. He mixes on an SSL console and simply uses the built in channel processing – hardly any outboard gear.

I am not shy of using EQ, and it almost always is board EQ. I have found over the years that I use less and less outboard for mixing. It seems that the SSL can give me what I need. – Andy Wallace, Mixing Legend

Please don’t miss this powerful point and think that it’s because he uses a real SSL EQ and compressor that his mixes are awesome. The takeaway here is that simplicity is what works.

By deciding to commit to simply using one EQ and one compressor for 90% of your mixing work, you have eliminated a lot of pointless decision making, thereby allowing you to mix faster and with more creativity because you are focused on what you are DOING with your effects, rather than on which one to use.

Secret #3 – Ride The Faders

A lot of Andy Wallace’s work has been on aggressive rock records (Slayer anyone?!) – and naturally people want to know how he gets such hard hitting mixes. Is it compression? Limiting? Some magical and obscure piece of outboard gear?

It turns out the answer is simply riding the volume faders.

I’ll spend a lot of time riding certain [bass] notes up that seem to be getting lost, and notes down that are jumping out too much. This stage is mostly a matter of fine-tuning the automation, riding this up a bit, swoop something else, maybe have a part 3-4 dB louder when the chorus hits and then bring it down gradually. I’m playing around with things that I feel add to the drama and architecture of the mix. – Andy Wallace, Mixing Legend

These days you don’t need an SSL 9000 series console to do this – your DAW has powerful automation built right into it!

And most of the time it goes under-used by the typical bedroom producer.

What Wallace is doing here is simple – he’s taking the power of moving the volume fader (mixing at it’s most foundational) and is now automating it for certain tracks at certain moments in time. I call this sweetening – either way, it works!

Like a movie director using edits and cuts to zoom in and direct the viewer’s attention for a moment, riding the faders allows you to direct the listeners ears to what you want them to hear in a given point in time.

What Wallace Didn’t Talk About

Interestingly enough, the one thing Wallace didn’t talk much about at all during the interview was gear.

When asked, he divulged his favorite tools (An SSL and Pro Tools) but that’s all the attention he gave his equipment. Instead he talked about minimalism, feel, music, and understanding the artist’s vision.

It’s funny how all home studio owners seem to want to discuss is gear, when a mixing legend like Andy Wallace would rather talk about “creating impact” and uses virtually the same setup he’s had for over 5 decades.

Makes you think.

Any thoughts? Share them here.


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88 Responses to “3 Mixing Secrets From The Legendary Andy Wallace”

  1. Dennie

    These are some great tips. Thanks. Simplicity seems to be key at all times. What’s the use of playing a $ 4000 Gibson, if you can’t play the basic chords? Same counts for all type of gear, I suppose.
    If you’re more interested in the power of simplicity in several aspects of your life, I’d definitely advise you to read the book: “The Laws Of Simplicity” by John Maeda.

  2. Taspa Laasonen

    An age old truth in all things music is, once you have a tool you know inside-out, that´s what you get best results with.
    Not saying that new gear is a no-no. But when work needs to get done – composing, recording, gigging or mixing – you need to have tools that have become a part of you.

  3. Jamar

    Great tips. So I want to work fast(like applying the 80<20 rule), use a trusty and capable EQ and compressor consistently by principle unless led otherwise for some specific reason, and finally grow accustom to riding the faders and going back and riding them some more via small edits using my DAW's automation as such is sure to add to the quality of my end result. Sounds good to me…gotta love Recording Revolution!(nobody cuts to the chase and teaches it so effectively like RR)

  4. Ed

    Valid points, but there needs to be a bit of context here..

    1) It’s obvious that anyone with a bit of experience, let alone Andy Wallace, is not going to waste time, and get straight to business when it comes to a mix. They’ve developed an ear, they know their tried and tested methods and their intuition is to the point where, they rarely second guess themselves.

    Someone new or with less experience, doesn’t carry the same confidence, so they need to take more time to figure things out, experiment and most importantly, develop their ear.

    2) He probably just uses the SSL, for the same reasons the analogies associated with the music he works with exist. Rock and metal can be pretty bread and butter with attitude and sound (especially coming from his generation), where often a guitar into a Marshall or similar was the way to go, nothing more needed i.e: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

    3) Again, context.. working with a board for such a long time will no doubt ingrain certain workflows and methods that come naturally. It goes without saying, that it’s a hands on experience, and that the lack of screens or menus make it much more intuitive to grab a knob or a fader, than say multiple mouse clicks to achieve the same thing (hence the popularity of products like console 1).

    Lastly, perhaps he doesn’t mention gear because of the above and the fact that he’s been around it all his life, it’s part of his job. They’re just tools and options to him, and any honeymoon period he might of had with equipment was over long ago, the same can’t be said for someone new who sees the shiny lights, has out blown assumptions about what different devices do or has never even stepped foot in a respectable studio before.

    • Filipe

      I get what you’re saying, but the point of the article is that there are people that know things well enough not to be obssessing about gear all the time, and instead focus more on what really matters.

      • Grant

        I agree with both. It is about the focusing on skill rather than gear but all three of Ed’s points are valid. I remember when I first started mixing it took me forever. Now that I can hear when something is wrong instantly, it makes it a lot easier. The suggestion about the quick mix is awesome though because I tend to micro manage my mixes. I think its just about doing. Maybe quick missing to start can be an exercise. Just try and see what happens, not matter your ear.

    • Drew Puzia

      Great points Ed, looking at his POV. Why would he need to take chances when he has something that works great for him. His focus is on the mix and not on acquiring and learning more gear.

  5. David

    I find that pretty much all I need to make a mix is 4 plugins – EQ, compressor, delay and reverb – all stock plugins in Reaper which I bought for 60 dollars.
    Isn’t that minimalism?

    I mean, occasionally I have the need for a simulator to reamp a DI track, but if I didn’t have my Axe Fx 2, I would’ve just used Amplitube 3 Free, right?
    I don’t own any outboard gear apart from the Axe, and I really never felt that I needed it.
    Thank you for your posts, Graham. Always inspiring! 😉

    • Woods

      that’s exactly what i was thinking, agree 100%, Reaper pretty much has everything you need built in, the more i work and learn about it, the more i realize that it’s not what you have, but how you use it. very wise, and Reaper just plain kicks ass!

  6. Noah Copeland

    So awesome! Been a fan of Andy’s for years. I love his work on the new Avenged Sevenfold, and I don’t even normally like Avenged Sevenfold hahaha.

  7. John Paul Crawford

    Pretty much the same approach I learned on my own. After screwing up a lot of work by overthinking it I eventually learned that less is more, that I have to listen not like an engineer (or what I thought an engineer did) but as a consumer, and that first impressions are almost always spot on.
    Eventually I found myself going back and remastering most of my early projects from scratch after shelving them long enough that I was able to come to them fresh. Experience is great, but I wish I had read articles like this one when I was much younger.

  8. Rod

    Many of us “bedroom” engineers could probably achieve great results with these fast and simple ways if we were starting with superb captures. I’m sure the recordings that come across Andy’s “desk” have largely been done in high-end facilities, by top-shelf engineers and that lot’s of high-end gear went into creating tracks that don’t at all need any major surgery.

    • Filipe

      I think that as bedroom engineers we dont need top notch sounding tracks. In case our music becomes of any success we will have good engineers to mix and master for us. 🙂

      • Rod

        Can you? 🙂

        Yeah, I was just thinking that a bit more time can be needed to iron out possibly poor tracking. It’s unspoken here, and most who’ve followed Graham and others, know that you can’t polish a T***..whether you mix fast or slowly. And I’m sure Andy hasn’t dealt with poor or even mediocre tracking in many years. We had this discussion awhile back when CLA was talking about the “jump in go fast” kind of approach. That’s fine if no major surgery is needed…or if your assistants have all kinds of pre-mix details lined out for you ahead of time. …Just sayin’

        • Rod

          I should also say, I don’t mean to detract from the wisdom in the article. I think every mix should begin the way described here. Like Graham says: “All too often when mixing we like to start off by doing major surgery. We want to dive in and start “making things sound better” I’ve destroyed a few mixes because of the mind set that says a song automatically needs tons of tweaking….It ain’t necessarily so.

        • Jurado

          I agree! have you ever mixed a seriously good band of musicians recorded seriously well. Almost mixes itself

    • Steve

      Yep. I’ve done a couple songs from Mike Seniors companion site to his book “Mixing Secrets” and when the tracks are well recorded, the song ALMOST mixes itself. Almost… 😉

    • Nathan

      Yes 100% and he has freaking SSL to mix it on in a great freaking room!!! Lol I love how all these top engineers talk about it’s not the gear! Bollox, put them in a tin hut with a radioshack mixer & speakers then lets hear their mixes, I doubt they would be pulling off those big sounding mixes then & I doubt we would be reading about them in this article. It’s the gear that makes engineers jobs easy, you have to know how mix of course, but don’t make it out like it’s just a minimal approach. It’s a massive approach that is being simplified understated here.

    • Quincy - Foundation Music

      A great performance captured well is very important to turning out a great mix. True statement. I don’t believe that’s where this article is coming from. All things being equal, the experienced engineer uses his experience and ears to do most of his work and then fine tunes his mix into a work of art. A less experienced engineer may arrive at a good mix, but how many wasted moves and/or mixes later. Many of these articles involves leaning on a proven work flow and efficiency.

  9. John Mayo

    Great stuff, a good lesson i learned mixing my own stuff is focus more on the song than the mixing. Yeah a polished track sounds nice but nothing can fix a song that is lacking.

  10. Ian

    I recently tried the Harrison Mixbus DAW based on Ardour. I’ve used Ardour in Linux before and it’s excellent. Coupled with a well-conceived modeled analog mixer/summing bus built in, it was well worth the money. Here’s the thing. Because it’s a built-in plugin that emulates the entire signal flow of a Harrison mixing board, it’s already hitting my system with 25% CPU with no added plugins. At first I was bummed. Then I mixed using ONLY the onboard EQ and compressor/leveler and amazingly my mixes sounded better, more punchy and I mixed FASTER without having to try 10 different compressors on the kick drum, for example. The idea is that I am limited by my computer if I use Mixbus, but that is a blessing! Now I’m focused on the mix, not on having too many choices.

  11. Filipe

    Great article. Even though i can’t say my best mixes were fast, i can identify with the article in the part of keeping it simple when you know enough. 🙂

  12. Alex Sekeriyan

    As a beginner reading this article, the idea that pops into my head is “stay the beginner you are and be better at being a beginner” ^^

    Seriously I don’t know much about mixing but all Wallace says we already know and experience it when we start ! The matter is not to forget these most important basics!

    @Dennie : you don’t need a Gibson to make great music but it might be what you need to get a certain grain you are looking for your music, and even if you try hard to edit the sound through mixing it’s a great amount of lost time. It’s like choosing a mic, sometimes a cheap one will do what you want but some others might have a different sound for a different use that you like.
    BUT having a Gibson doesn’t me you’ll have the best guitar sound. You’ll get just a different kind than a or anything else.
    For example these days I’m craving for an ovation acoustic guitar because they have the sound I’d like my acoustic parts to have (instead of my ibanez e-guitar playing on clean sound with the amp tweaked as hell to get the “cristaline sound” I’m looking for and never getting ^^ that doesn’t me I can’t make killer music with it but I’d like something else ^^

    Anyway, great post Graham, I’ll keep on my journey to “be the best beginner and keep it simple ” ^^

  13. Sam Wappler

    Amazing article!! I always love your spartan advice graham. It’s particularly effective and well written here. I must admit, I have been too scared to really dig into volume-automating my mixes, even knowing how powerful this simple tool can be. I was just listening to some of my favorite old music, noticing that the impact came from its dynamics. The sweeping swooping crashing dynamics of every track together. However, it was rock, so it’s a little easier to do there. I’ve gotta work out instilling that same morphing hugeness into my programmed tracks, with midi velocity editing and volume automation. Woohoo.

  14. Jon Anderhub

    While I agree with fundamental philosophy of the article the question is why do so many home studio owners get so infatuated with plugins.
    Here is why:
    Number 1 most home studio owners don’t have an SSL or Neve console in their homes!
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have the $250,000 to drop on a nice console like that and then have the wife that says “I don’t mind you replacing our living room couch with your console and the dining room table with a rack full of Teletronix LA2As.
    Most home studio owners are either mixing in the box or through lower grade mixers and are chasing the sound that Andy Wallace’s equipment gets him, hence the obsession for “great sounding plugins”
    Secondly, Mr. Wallace minimalist approach works well for straight forward rock/metal mixes, but when you start working in the heavily synth based pop/dance, dubstep, electronica, and rap/hip hop genres a lot of software based synths and effects require processing and tweeking right from the start.
    This is why there is a lot of infatuation with plugins from the home studio crowd.

    I’m not saying that Andy Wallace’s approach isn’t valid in any genre in terms of finding the emotion in the music and mixing to that.
    I’m just saying that sometimes that emotion has to come from tweaking plugins to get where you want to go.

    • Ed

      Agreed. The better the basic tools/recordings are, the less chasing and obsessing over gear, plugins or even tricks & techniques, as there’s less to do to get the desired result.

    • Nathan

      Yes +1.

      100% agree as with the other fella a few posts above! Please stop making it out like everyone who mixes is over doing it. Everyone that spends hours Eq, compressing, distorting are looking to achieve that sound that the GEAR is already doing with out any work at all apart from the cost of Millions $$$ That’s why bedroom producers are struggling with mixes. Then of course the talent that made these songs and the skill of the engineers that tracked them all comes together very easy on an $450k SSL! Trust me you can polish a sonically bad turd with an SSL 4000, 9000, they sound amazing! Then with a good mix engineer will have a very easy time in finalizing a great song. Every engineer is only as good as the room and equipment they work on. The better the gear, talent, the less work one has to do. *Rolls Eyes*

  15. Merlin

    Awesome tips. Your knowledge and suggestions have really helped me streamline the mixing process and come up with stronger results. More assertive EQing, a la your demos, has helped clarify previously very muddy mixes. Riding the faders, or using volume automation, is so simple (but perhaps requires a delicate touch?) Nice one. Thanks again!

    Hey, sorry about my little ego-splurge on your blog a couple of weeks ago (the Tony Robbins stuff). Not cool, and I regret my wording. Not my place at all. Hope you’re cool.


    • Graham

      No harm done my friend 🙂 I’m cool if you’re cool.

      So glad the content has helped you and your music. Keep it up!

  16. P.O.P.

    I tell you if that guy mixed Nirvana’s Nevermind Mr. Wallace is the one to listen to. Nevermind is not only my favorite mixed album but one of my favorite albums period. Hey you can’t hide behind gear if you don’t know how to use it. Yes it’s fun to have nice equipment but the real fun is creating music. Great article!

  17. Mike Lattimore

    When mixing, I don’t think of mixing a song, but mixing a journey for the listener. You’re creating an experience with a beginning, middle, and an end. There should lots of things to “see” with your ears along the way. A great mix is always a different experience each time. Your mind can only concentrate on one element of the mix at a time. So if you’re listening to the guitars, you should be able to follow them in the mix without losing them: the same for just about every element. In a great mix, you can push up a track up in volume a few dB without losing the other parts. I try to get a great basic mix and balance, then focus on creating “the sound” I am after. If I want big heavy drums, I can focus on that because everything else sits well in the track. Creating “big heavy drums” first tends to crowd out the rest of the elements and trying to get them unveiled becomes a nightmare.

    Mix number one should be a well functioning sonic balance with the right EQ, dynamics, and levels. THEN concentrate on your SOUND.

    Oh, and start with your kick peaking around -20dB. That gives you plenty of headroom to add in other elements and change your balance in almost any way that you want. If you start out loud, you have no where to go.

  18. Raj

    Thanks Graham. Always enjoy your nuggets of gold advice. Repression of obsession equals having time to do what you love – compose, record mix and master your music so that your soul is fulfilled.

  19. Mike Hawkins

    Keep It Simple Stupid. I love it. My head spins when I read of people trying to explain how they used a dozen plugins on a snare. LOL.

  20. Paul Mitchell

    This guy andy has all the gear he needs, he learned to use

    the tools at his disposal a long time ago. He knows his gear and his ears and

    body our attuned to his 50 year process. This goes to show you that the KISS

    princple still works . Also an SSL Console never hurt anybody.

    • P.O.P.

      Yes I’m also loving the KISS method of mixing that has worked for the legends all of these years! Fewer options, more time to create music!

  21. Jon

    He mixed one of my bands records. I was blown away by the first refs we got from him. So good. Best sounding record we ever did.

  22. Brett Wall

    Love it. I agree with the 3 “tricks”. I like to use the SSL E Channel across all my tracks. I think it goes a long way in establishing a continuity in sound with all the tracks running through it.

  23. RomeoX

    Like Graham says, limiting the tools.
    I’m throwing away a lot of plugins, instead i have one plug in for each thing: reamp, sampler, EQ and comp.
    I find the mix more easier, I can’t get the sound what I want, but I’m a little closer every time.

  24. Mark Clear

    I’ve head the 4 mixes of Teen Spirit all of which used the same raw tracks. i bought the book on this one and they have all the mixes. 3 of the mixes
    wouldn’t have sold 200 copies. Andy’s mix was huge sonically and commercially.
    So outside the basics he didn’t reveal much.

    • Ed

      Ironally, Butch Vig’s mix was probably closest to the band’s vision, as they thought Andy’s final released mix was too slick.

    • P.O.P.

      Mark, I’m a huge Nirvana fan that noticed even in my early days of music ( early 90’s) I noticed it was something that stood out about the mix on Nevermind. I always thought Butch Vig did the mix of the whole album. If you have a link where I can hear all of the different mixes I would appreciate that. Thanks!

  25. Patrick

    In his “MIX with the MASTERS” 2011 video, Wallace talks about an initial quick mix (3-4 hours). He goes on to explain that he then goes back to do a “rough fine tune” at first, then more deep tweaking where 5 hours pass by and most people can’t tell a difference. If I was paid like Andy Wallace, I’d put 9 or more hours into a mix too! Since I don’t make Andy Wallace money, I’m quite content with a 1 hour (or less) mix. Here’s the video. The “meat” of the matter runs between the 4:30 and 5:30-ish marks.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=578iblW3SMI&w=560&h=315%5D

    I hope I did that right. If the video didn’t post correctly, here’s the address to copy and paste:

    • David Kutchara

      “If I was paid like Andy Wallace, I’d put 9 or more hours into a mix too! Since I don’t make Andy Wallace money, I’m quite content with a 1 hour (or less) mix. ”


  26. Anthony

    I agree, simplicity is the key, I have one set of headphones (Yamaha HPH-200), one microphone (SM57), one USB audio interface (Eleven Rack), I usually use one EQ and compressor (Pro Tools Channel Strip), one reverb (DVerb), one Delay (Mod3); and I can make (what I think is) a good sound

  27. Rob

    I wanted to share something about automation.

    My DAW is actually stuff from the Nero Suite, so not quite as fancy as stock Reason or Pro Tools. I remember the day I figured out how to automate volume and panning. I had transferred a cover song I recorded on a 4-track cassette to my PC, and then began experimenting with Nero SoundTrax to see if I could get it to work.

    The original mix wasn’t too bad, but on another day, I decided to mess around and create some weird noises based off the original mix. To make a long story short, I doubled the results with different EQ emphasis based on interesting frequencies that were popping out, and used the automation to bring them in and out in order to emphasize these parts and their frequencies. This was also a time I zoomed in on the waves and meticulously lined them up with the original mix so everything sounded correct in timing.

    It’s a weird mess, but it was a lot of fun to do, and it sounds pretty good too. It just can’t be heard without a sense of humor–LOL!

  28. raul

    Great job Graham, the tips in the interview awesome, I’m shocked by the clever use if volume auto trick….it is something I really missuse and sure thing I’m gonna dig it.
    But mostly I want to say: Great Job Graham, your blog/web/business kills it!
    always good stuff in it, and that is hard to achieve.
    My most sincere congratulation.
    Raul Bonilla, The Suburb

  29. Alby

    Not every track that come to a mixing desk was recorded well. THis article assumes that the music arriving to his room has been nicely edited an prepared for mixing. THe comment about people obsessing over gear in their hime studio is condescending and somewhat elitist. Let me clarify. When given a well recorded mix, I tend to use less outboard gear and do less rerecoding of the parts I am given. But let me say that a lot of the music I get to mix in my home studio come from musicians that recorded in their apartment and therefore the quliaty fo the mix is already in question. In these cases, )s and 1 do not help revive flat and poorly recorded tracks. Good iron and signal flow will help if you know what you are doing and that is only because going in the signal was’t strong.

    This reminds me of when Grohl gave that Grammy speech talking about hwo they made in album in his garage….like a 3000 sq foot garage with a fucking neve console from Sound City. Just in case anyone forgets SLL 9000s and Neve consoles cost over $200k and cannot fit in most people apartments or garages.

    Everything Andy Wallace said is spot on. The writer’s attitude about being happy using the Digirack EQ3 on all tracks because Andy Wallace only uses the on board SSL9000 EQs and Dynamics….sorry it makes no sense. Again, the better the quality of the work I get, the less gear I use. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, I just feel articles like these provide a false education.

    • raul

      Hi Alby,
      expecting to get the same quality from a hundred bucks piece of gear than from a 200k one is lying to youself.
      Grohl sayin’ they recorded in a garage is telling only half of the story, that ‘garage’ has given some of the best sounding recordings in history, but as soon as i recall he mentioned that after playing there and hearing the room they understood why that ‘garage’ delivered those great recordings.
      Anyway, pretending everything is supereasy, affordable and simple is a common mistake/lie on nowaday’s communication – I see your point- but I also know lots of people only focused in gear: last week I bought a tc-helicon voice live pedal barely used for half the price it costs brand new. the seller had purchased the much upgraded touch-screen version 2 of it. She didn’t even know you could plug a condenser mic to it…
      My point is I’m sure Andy Wallace would get a great mix with any DAW default EQ. The sound is more in your brain and your ears than in you gear

    • Graham Cochrane

      I agree (and teach here) that the better the recording, the easier the mix will be (less work) and the better sounding it will be. No denying that.

      Just fighting the lie that great mixing lies in excessive gear and complexity.

  30. Javier

    Great post! Riding the faders is the most “obvious-not so obvios” thing I read about mixing in a while and loved it!
    Sometimes we forget about the power of just listening with our ears and brains when mixing!! I believe tha,If the tracks are at least ok recorded, everithing we need is there in the music, not in the pluggins, consoles, DAWs, etc.

  31. Roy

    When you have an SSL console, do you really need anything else???

    Remember folks at his level are getting tracks that are recorded really well by engineers that most likely have worked on countless major label records. They have hundreds of records under their belt, and unlike mere mortals like some of us that work from home or own a small business studio, I would say that .

    Not trying to discount Andy Wallace’s mixes (I’m a huge fan myself) but we need to remember this – there’s an accumulation of things that need to happen right before even the tracks get sent to Andy Wallace. When you’ve got a band like Slayer and RATM, who have built their chops and band chemistry from their tours and practices, well, I guess a large chunk of that comes even before hitting the microphone. How many of us are recording Slayer in our bedrooms?

    Mere mortals like work don’t have an SSL console laying around, and need to settle with our DAWs and software ’emulation’ plugins (,if you even want to call them that), but if we have control on tightening up the songs/performances/songs in preproduction or our own productions, that would help us be able to ‘work fast’ as the interview/blog suggests.

    It’s really no secret that mixing fast helps the end results. It’s been said in countless interviews with virtually all major label mixers. Having said that, mere mortals that are starting out need to spend the tie experimenting with the parameters/knobs of the processing gear/plugins to get better at the craft. So doing it fast may not always be an option.

    Yes, analog summing does matter 😉 , but the stuff that comes before matter more.
    If you get em all, then you’ve won, but you can still win a ball game by only a point vs a blow-out beat-down win.
    Time to call up Slayer to come record at our basement…

  32. Roy

    And just to add to that, the tracks that Andy Wallace gets most like aren’t recorded with Axe FX, Amplitube, Guitar Rig or Eleven rack. He or his assistants don’t need to spend the time fixing those kind of junk tracks. As a mixer, he doesn’t need to be distracted by complete dreadful sounding stuff, and be able to focus on the music, and enhancing, rather than fixing.

  33. Eric

    Great post! As anything we try to design, perfection is not when we cannot add anything else, but when we cannot take away from it anymore while keeping the desired effect, whether it be inspiration, a great sound or a great vibe. I think it’s what you learn from experience. Thanks for taking the time to dissect this interview for us and turning it into good advice/reminders.

  34. Mol

    “3 Mixing Secrets From The Legendary Andy Wallace”
    Are these REALLY secrets? Is this stuff that nobody’s ever heard of before? That’s clearly not what’s stated in the Sound on Sound article, nor did Andy Wallace ever described this stuff as if it’s anything secretive, neither is it something the interviewer found shocking.

    Why does every blog post on this site need to have click bait titles like this?
    “The magic bullet to all your mixes”
    “The one rule of xyz that you should know”
    “Why xyz and why it doesn’t matter”
    “5 things that will make your lover enjoy you more”

    We understand that you want more clicks for traffic to your site, but man, reposting the same blog post on twitter too 10 times a day is just ridiculous. We want to continue follow you and we support what you’re offering for free, but man, come on!

    • Graham Cochrane

      Hey Mol – Sorry this blog post title (and others it seems) offended you.

      In a world of too much (and boring) articles and posts I try to get people interested in not only clicking through, but then delivering with engaging, valuable, and applicable content.

      I also only tweet 3 to 4 times on days when posts go live so people in different time zones catch it in their feed. I would hardly call that ridiculous.

      Honestly, the best thing you could do is stop following me on social media if you find me “annoying” – it’s completely in your control. While I try and respect peoples feeds, inboxes, etc – anyone can easily avoid me popping up in their digital lives.


  35. Robyn

    Hi Graham. After reading and watching a lot of your articles, i have taken your advice, and like it says in this article, to do a quick mix straight away. So i set the faders and pan what needs to be panned. Another tip i have picked up on is to always mix in mono. After you’ve finished your quick mix, do you pan everything to the middle again and keep a mental note of where you put them in the first place and put them back after you’ve “finished” the whole mix/edit process? Or does it just depend on the project you’re working on? cheers

  36. Poppa Madison

    I grew up using a Reel to Reel tape recorder and my guitar and a microphone of dubious quality. However, the sound I got out of the machine was Real and true to life, whether it was good or bad musically speaking.
    I left it all behind me from 1970 to 2005 when I decided to retire and get back into doing something with music.
    OM freakin’ G ……………..it took me two years to get to grips with Digital technology and midi and all the other new languaging I had to learn, and how to use a computer and the software to start recording again.
    Now when I listen to anything I record, from having composed on a computer, I get that sad bad feeling that I could do a damn sight better with the old Reel to Reel recorder!

    Anyways……..I have pressed on and I still have myriads to learn as to how to do it most appropriately to do it justice.

    Problem is, I think I will need another lifetime to be able to do just that!

    Simple is best……………I say Analogue anyday.

    Poppa Madison Queensland Australia


  37. yarin

    hey, i was wondering… if you had to choose between the blue spark and the nt1a which one would you choose?

  38. Orlando "Juapi" Lopez de Victoria

    Obviously Mr. Wallace doesn’t need to use any other gear besides his board EQ because he probably only mixes songs that were recorded in high-end studios with amazing producers and engineers that already did the work of getting amazing sounds. So, why would amazing sounds need anything more than a bit of EQ and some minimal processing?

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  40. Récompense New Balance

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!

  41. Ryan holms

    Amazing, growing up through school I noticed Andy Wallace was on almost everything I liked at that time.

  42. Scott King

    Huge lesson here. Hope to follow this advice exactly with my next mix. Thanks, Graham.

  43. Guillaume paillotin

    Excellent article.
    You can’t do a fast mixing if you don’t use your Protools AS a mixtable !!
    And to my experience, it has to be the same plug for dynamics and even for all the aux returns to achieve what I call a “sonic coherence” in your mix.
    Build your mixtable in your DAW exactly as an analogue console. You’ll understand all the possibilities of routing with your AUXes with parallel comp and rev and delays..cause to achieve a good mix, Aux return has to be equed if needed!!

    Excuse my poor english

  44. Hazze Wazeen

    Graham is spot on! Andy Wallace is a master at his craft. There is no doubt that he can make a thunderous mix on a laptop and Pro Tools with stock plugins. If he had to. And so can Chris-Lord Alge and Bob Clearmountain. Just like Jeff Beck can play a cheap 50 dollar guitar and sound fabulous, or like Paul Rodgers can record world class sounding vocals on an Mbox with an SM57. That’s why these kind of articles are a pain in the ass for many people, because they have to just realize that at the end of the day, it all comes down to skills and training. That the gear is irrelevant. If you are good you are good.
    Thanks Graham for this article about Andy Wallace and his approach!

  45. Rich Turgeon

    I’ve been wanting more about Andy since I because obsessed with his work on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind.’ The different between what he did to sweeten that record vs. Butch Vig’s drier mixes is astounding. It made a band like Nirvana accessible to the masses. Hats off to you for summarizing what’s worked for him!

  46. clem hicks

    well i tell ya no offense folks. but that dude must be something else. and he must have given nervana their sound. because that must have been a task.thry made lou reed look like beetowven..

  47. R. Nunez

    Thanks for the tips Graham! Good article! Simplicity is a very good thing and can surely help you
    move faster in the mixes. True – outboard gear and expensive plugins aren’t that important.
    I get what you are saying and…why. Beginner mixers out there need to know these things so they
    don’t make excuses and just get started being creative. It helped me a lot going with this approach.
    But, later on down the road, I found out the most important gear to have is a decent Mic, a more decent Mic-Pre, EQ, Compression, and Reverb. You can do so much with just that alone. The most important thing I learned is to start with the best recordings you can achieve with what you have.
    Then use all the other tools to finish it. Thanks again Graham!



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