5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: First Impressions

| 5 Minutes To A Better Mix, Audio Example, Mixing, Pro Tools, Tips, Video

Part 1 of 31 – To kick off this round of 5 Minutes To A Better Mix let’s begin with some philosophy: There is only one time you will ever hear your tracks for the first time. Think about it. You can never go back to your original first impressions of a mix. You’ve only got one shot.

Trust Your Gut

One of the most powerful mix techniques you can develop isn’t a mixing move at all. Simply put, write down the strengths and weaknesses of the tracks in question. Trust your gut response to what you hear and put it on paper.  Now you know what to focus on in the mix.


Get Better Mixes By Simply Changing How You Start

The first 60 minutes of your mix will affect everything. Here's my proven method!

30 Responses to “5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: First Impressions”

  1. Tomas LADO B

    Nicke Kick-off, actually when I was Hearing it I liked the sound of the drums, I don’t know, with some reverb it can sound very nice. Greetings from Peru!

    • Norman

      To me personally the drums, especially the snare, did sound a little ‘muffled’, but that doesn’t make you wrong.
      I think that that’s exactly what the exercise is about; if you like the drum sound on your first impression, you should work towards that sound. As long as you have a clear vision.


  2. Steve

    Graham, your remark about being a simple person cracked me up. Humility rocks, true sign of a lifelong student. Really nice song, thank you for sharing it.

  3. Mark

    I wish I’ve heard this tip sooner in my mixing days … The first set of songs I ever mixed were “discovered” with the artist next to me, and explaining me various things about her songs …

  4. Isaac Murillo


    Great start to your next 5 min to a better mix video series. I’m very excited to announce that for ONCE, I finally agreed with everything you said regarding the changes to your song. I’m not sure if everyone else who is watching did, but I hope the reasoning behind it is because I’m growing a listener. It’s really is all thanks to you and your videos. I really want to start diving into your duelingmixes website and mix alongside you and Joe. I can imagine that mixing a song every month will most definitely improve this craft that I am now to passionate about.

    Thanks again and God Bless.

    San Diego, CA

  5. Grayson Peddie

    What a great video to start off with. In my opinion, I do like it as it is, but maybe the snare may need to be turned down just a tiny bit just to try to fit in with the rest of the drums. To me, I think the snare drum is quite louder than the whole song. Could the snare drum be hit a little too hard in the recording process? Or are the rest of the drums except a snare drum a little too soft?

    As for embedding YouTube videos, you might want to turn off the related video feature. When you embed a video, you can add &rel=0 at the end of the URL. Here’s what I mean: http://www.varesano.net/blog/fabio/disable%20related%20videos%20embedded%20youtube%20player

  6. Ricard

    Thanks Graham.
    Clear and useful, as usual on your instalment.
    I can’t wait for next.
    (btw you look angry on the pic about you…)

  7. Michael

    I love these 5 minutes to a better mix series. Thanks for doing another one, Graham. I appreciate you!!

  8. Daniel Mikesell

    rocking song. Can’t wait for your EP to come out. Some high passed rhythm acoustic guitar might sound sweet to add a percussive element. Great advice as always, can’t wait to see tomorow’s video!

  9. Jeff

    Ahhh my favorite time of the year! Been through the first 2 31 tips and greatly looking forward to the 3rd installment!!!

  10. Rick Spyder

    Wow great tip, i have done this in the past but it’s way smarter to write it down for later reference like after you’ve spent an extra 12 hours tweaking and accidentally listen to a previous mix that “oh shit” sounder better.

  11. Jeff

    With your own stuff, it’s hard to listen to it for the first time. I’d said in another comment that if I know what I’m looking for in my head first, it’s much easier. What this vid explained is maybe why that (I think anyway) that works for me. I can objectively weigh it against what I hear in my head in that first listen. Does it measure up? The ‘mix’ in my head sounds AWESOME! Just needs to get that in to the DAW. Thus the beauty of this video.

  12. Nick

    For some reason the initial EQ settings I make after the first listen of the track without much thinking are most of the times the best and there is no need for further changes. Great tip Graham.

  13. nathan hobbs

    this is a grate idea i was just wonderng how I can find unmixed sessions to down load. A lot of us don’t have wellspring of band to mix and need to work on our tech, I am a metal head, but I like all music and there is such a dynamic change from heavy rock, metal, indy, and so on….

    • Graham

      Hi Nathan,

      I run a monthly training website called Dueling MIxes where we do just that. Hand out new raw unmixed songs for members to download, and mix on their own. It also includes mixing tutorials from me and another engineer showing you OUR mixes and how we got there.


  14. Dave Mallon

    Mate thank you so much for your videos and recording wisdom, you have been an incredible help to my learning process!!:-)



  1.  5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: First Impressions (Recording Revolution VID) Trust your Gut | therecordinghomepage
  2.  Till There Was You – Rhythm Acoustic Guitar | guitar fret notes
  3.  The Critical First Hour Of Your Mix | Home Recording Resources Blog
  4.  The Critical First Hour of Your Mix | American CSA
  5.  The Late Night Mixing Plan – Part 1 » The Recording Revolution
  6.  The Critical First Hour Of Your Mix | The Recording Revolution

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