Give a listen to CD’s that you know in the studio beforehand so you know what it sounds like in that room. If there’s a boom box or car stereo you’ll be referencing on, listen there as well. But be careful not to overly compare your mix to CD’s. They’ve been mastered and have been recorded at different studios with entirely different gear with totally different players. If you want to sound exactly like Metallica, go audition for Metallica. Your music will have it’s own distinct sound. Don’t strangle that by trying to make it sound like something else.

Again, bring many time killers for the mix. The engineer will spend the most time getting the first mix together without the band. Hearing things out of context as a mix is being assembled could be alarming and tedious to some musicians. Trust your mixer. When the first song is mostly mixed, then go in and listen to it.

Think about the songs as a whole and not just the individual instruments. Otherwise everyone will want to hear his instrument louder.

Listen to your mix on a few different speakers at different volumes before you call it done. If it sounds great on a terrible speaker, you have a great mix on your hands.

When printing your mixes, do a full mix, a mix with lead vocal up 2 dB, a “TV” or “Performance” mix with no lead vocals and an instrumental mix with no lead or background vocals. This gives many options of post mixing editing in case you change your mind on something down the road without having to remix the tracks. Instrumental tracks can also be sold for soundtrack work.

I recommend printing your mixes to DAT, reel to reel, Masterlink or PMCD for mastering. CD-r’s have many dropout errors. Also, print at a conservative volume so that there’s some headroom for the Mastering Engineer to work with. Don’t use extreme stereo compression on your final mix because the mastering engineer won’t have any dynamics left to work with.

Always make safeties of your mixes. CD-r’s are OK for that.

As you go thru the process, take note of everyone one who helped with the making of the record. That way you won’t forget them when you’re writing your credits. The biggest insult to an engineer/producer and assistant is to not give them credit for their hard work.

Now, go rock!

Tom Gordon, esq.


Director of Covert Operations
Inspired Amateur Productions