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The Ambient Mixing Tome

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  • The Ambient Mixing Tome

    Hey all, I started this thread because ultimately i currently know very little about mixing and mastering ambient music. Up til now i am working on the premise "If it sounds right". However, i'm sure that the many experienced producers in this community have plenty they could offer on this subject, so please, feel free to share your mixing/mastering secrets
    https://soundcloud.com/negativespectrum

    My record label
    http://xenomorphrecords.bandcamp.com/

  • #2
    I have two different workflows, both of which could be considered flawed, and, again, these are not related to ambient mixes, although I can probably include 4 or 5 tracks within the approximate definition of "ambient"


    workflow A) - requires patience

    1) Record track in "complete" rough form
    2) Wait for 2-3 years
    3) Listen to track with fresh ears. This gives me an unsentimental perspective on the track and allows me to complete it in fairly short order, including a) removal/replacement of entire sections which I consider to be naff, b) panning, c) application of FX (usually including, but not limited to, reverb and delay), d) EQ, e) relevelling all channels relative to one another and to a level which will allow the mastering to enhance the mix without clipping/peaking.

    workflow B) - requires me to "get the music right first time"

    Same as workflow A) above but without steps 2) and 3a)

    Superficially, they appear to be very similar to one another, but I can assure you that they are not
    Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

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    • #3
      S1gns has made the following video tutorials which should help with some specifics:-


      http://www.ambientonline.org/forum/showthread.php?753-S1gns-Of-L1fe-Mixing-Tutorial-Part-1-Setting-up-a-Submix


      http://www.ambientonline.org/forum/s...Adding-Effects
      Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

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      • #4
        Yeah you beat me to it. I've got more videos coming, for sure. This summer will be filled with em. In the meantime, watch those vids and see if they help you at all. The main thing is to understand there's really no rules, other than the obvious which applies to all genres of music. Use your ears, don't over mix, listen through monitors and then burn your mix to CD and listen to it in your car. If it sounds like crap in your car, notate the things you could change and rinse and repeat. <---tip of the iceberg post but it's a start!

        Cheers!
        Synphaera Records
        Space | Time | Matter

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        • #5
          Not to step on anyone's toes...

          But very generic advice is also to make sure you are very familiar with your monitors and with your listening environment. I've done an awful lot of listening to "outside" music on my monitor system and I'm especially familiar with how the kind of music that I'm inspired by "should" sound. I say "should" in quotation marks because as Signs said there really aren't any rules. But... if you're familiar with the kind of sound you're hoping to achieve (e.g. by listening to lots of music) then it will be fairly obvious that something is "wrong" when you compare with your own tracks.

          There are also some online tutorials from places like Groove3 and PureMix that are pretty good. Personally, I think the paid ones are well worth the investment. I really like Fab's tutorials because he doesn't just tell you do this and this and that, but rather he goes through his process of thinking so that you get the bigger picture and can then apply things to developing your own process. He also talks about how to listen properly so that you know what you're hearing (doh!).

          I've usually been mixing on the fly as I record, but the mixing process itself can be very enjoyable and very deep. These days usually when I'm finished with the recording/writing the song is more or less mixed. Sometimes I still like to go back in and go into total Mixer mode. Which is to say at that point everything is recorded and locked and I can focus solely on the mixing. I've done this also for older tracks that I've pulled out of the archive and revisited because maybe the tools I had now were better than the things I had before and I also think (hope!) some of my skills have improved as well.

          For a while I also took a little detour to better learn about proper gain staging and rethinking my overall working levels. One thing that I would say is make sure you leave plenty of headroom so that your tracks can breathe and so that you have "wiggle" room in case you ever want to pull things and rework them, or if you ever need to take them out into the analog domain, etc.
          My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/sequent7

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          • #6
            all great advice for sure so far, i'm a paid member of groove3 and im gonna go check out puremix. s1gns i used my youtube downloader to get your videos so i can study them, i hope you dont mind?
            https://soundcloud.com/negativespectrum

            My record label
            http://xenomorphrecords.bandcamp.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              I read The Mixing Engineer's Handbook and while I don't consciously tend to think about the concepts in it when I'm working, or often even consider what I'm doing as a "mix", some of it managed to lodge in the back of my mind.

              With more abstract music I think most of the rules go out the window most of the time, but not all of them all the time.

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              • #8
                yes - i hope that some of the knowledge i found in books on the topic crosses over into my production habits... I have a few such books around & use them for reference.
                www.soundcloud.com/phoenstorm

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by falls a star View Post
                  I read The Mixing Engineer's Handbook and while I don't consciously tend to think about the concepts in it when I'm working, or often even consider what I'm doing as a "mix", some of it managed to lodge in the back of my mind.

                  With more abstract music I think most of the rules go out the window most of the time, but not all of them all the time.
                  who wrote that book? i may try tracking down a copy
                  https://soundcloud.com/negativespectrum

                  My record label
                  http://xenomorphrecords.bandcamp.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mikkha76 View Post
                    who wrote that book? i may try tracking down a copy
                    Bobby Owsinski is the man you are looking for:


                    The Mixing Engineer's Handbook
                    http://silentfrill.bandcamp.com/

                    https://manducator.bandcamp.com/

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                    • #11
                      I love that book. He also did one called the Mastering Engineer's Handbook (or something like that). What I like about those books is that through the interviews you get a feeling for how the people he's talking with approach the topic covered in the book. Similar to what Falls said... I found the real value in these books not so much for a step by step formula but for the "overall picture" and things to be aware of in the back of your mind as you're mixing or mastering your own tracks.
                      My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/sequent7

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