Anyone who has worked on enough records knows that it’s not the tools that make a great mix, but the way that they’re used. And in a day and age where great-sounding gear has become something of a commodity – an assumed baseline rather than a unique and unusual selling point – the benefits of experience have perhaps become more valuable than ever.
Today, the most meaningful contribution a great mixer has to offer is often his or her choices, ears, experience, and perhaps most importantly, perspective. But if you ask even the most celebrated pros, maintaining that perspective isn’t always easy. Many of them have developed little mind games and quirky rituals that help to restore their focus.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that can take a mix from good to great. But they may not always be the little things that you expect.
Distract Yourself to Hear What Really Matters
Earlier this year, famed recordist Steve Albini [Nirvana, Pixies, The Breeders] told Reddit:
“When I first started making records I would sit in front of the console concentrating on the music every second. I found out the hard way that I tended to fiddle with things unnecessarily and records ended up sounding tweaked and weird. I developed a couple of techniques to avoid this, to keep me from messing with things while still paying attention enough to catch problems…