What if I told you that 80% of your mix is going to come from the first hour? That’s the truth. The vast majority of your mixes overall sound and vibe will come from those first 60 minutes regardless of how much time you spend on the track. So regardless of how fast or slow you are as a mixer, knowing about the first hour of a mix will help you moving forward.
Your Intuition is Always Right
As soon as you start mixing some tracks, your brain will start to go to work. This is probably the first time you are hearing the track and ideas are starting to swirl around in your head like crazy. That first moment of inspiration and listening to your gut is crucial. You have a special and unique way that you create music and you have to trust that instinct.
Whatever way you think the piano should sound, guess what? You’re correct. The tone and feel of the drums is just right. The way you approach the vocals is just perfect. But once you start to over think things and go way off track is when everything will fall apart. You can only mix that song the way you know how to do it. So try and trust that your first impressions are right and go with it.
Go For the Big Wins First
When I’m beginning a mix, I think it’s critical to focus on the big wins early on. More importantly, the 3 largest decisions are usually going to make the biggest impact on your mix. These 3 things are: volume level, pan position, and Equalization. Other things like compression and reverb are close but not as important I think.
Try and move quickly and commit to volume, pan and EQ as early on as you can. The rest of the time during the mix, you will work off of these initial settings and they probably won’t change much.
What The Listener Actually Hears
So if you can get that initial first hour of mixing to work properly, than the rest of the mixing process with fall into place. All the other things you do to the mix like sweetening, automation, mix buss tweaking etc, will become less overwhelming because the mix will already sound fairly good. It might be just okay but it should be approx. 80% there. Remember trest of the world that hears this song is only going to hear what we did in the first hour.
Did you hear me?
Most of what the listener is going to hear came from your gut reactions. All of which can come within the first hour. All of the other things you do in the mix, which may be wonderful, will probably go right over the heads of the average listener.
Stick To Your Gut
Why is this very important for us mixers to understand? Because its wiser to put our best of efforts into the most important things that make all the difference. In the mixing world, this usually happens in the first hour. If you put your attention and focus into the first hour than you will be okay. Don’t focus too much on the stuff that comes next because you can always build on it later.