Reflections off a bad mix

As my Christmas and New Years holidays come to a close, and I go back to work, I sort of gleaned a lot out of the week. To start it off, I was excited about a song that I was working on. The song started out of being inspired from noodling on my guitar synthesizer, which obviously fleshed itself out. It was an exciting start to the song. One thing led to another and a song was born. I got the guitars, lead and vocals down. I even made a string arrangement to add to song. The vocal harmonies seemed fantastic, and I thought that the vocal effects were chilling. Everything seemed to fit.

So what went wrong? The mix… that’s what.

I spent the past few days working on the mix trying to get things right, only to be disappointed in the end. It sounded limp and lifeless. Other than the vocals, there was nothing to get excited about. It was a total letdown. I felt like I lost a few days out of this.

However, instead of feeling like I lost my entire holidays over this, I may as well learn something out of this mix, so it won’t feel like a total waste.

The first thing I learned was not to rely on a set of drum samples just because they sampled a famous drummers kit. What may have been good for his band, is not necessarily good for a mix in other people’s work. I couldn’t get the type of oomph I needed for song, no matter how hard I tried. And the cymbals were only recorded through the overheads all at once. I couldn’t separate them. Nothing worked on it. I should have been smart enough early on in the mix to switch kits for something that I knew I could work with.

I also learned how well they didn’t mix with the bass guitar either. I loved how the bass guitar sounded as it was and it was more prominent in the song than other parts. The drums are supposed to reinforce the bass. These didn’t seem like they were part of the same song, let along reinforcement.

My next mistake was trying to compensate with levels. I pushed everything to point where it was pushing the buss compressor to the point where everything was mushy. Now nothing sounded right.

To make matters worse, I thought I could  cover things up by applying my tape emulation setting in Ozone. That was nothing more than an exercise in turd polishing. Let’s face it. If it sounds bad, then nothing will make it good. What was I thinking.

So, where do I go from here? I think I am probably going to give this song a bit of a rest for now so I can plan my strategy for the next time I mix it. If anything, I have other song ideas that I would like to work on for now. I can’t brood over this song. There were a lot of things I got out of writing the song as well, such as programming some real nice drum lines and some real cool harmonies. If anything, I could apply them to other song ideas. So, really, nothing was wasted. If it wasn’t for the reflections of this bad mix, I probably wouldn’t have anything to think about for my next mixes to make them better.