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In The Studio: The Power Of Three (Mixes)

How many versions of a mix do you do?

I’m finishing up a mix this week for a client from Russia.

Great song…and it’s not everyday I get to listen to a guy singing in Russian for a few hours. (I think I might be starting to understand it…nah, probably not.)


Here’s a quick mixing tip that will help you in two ways:

1. You’ll quickly improve your mixes.

2. Your mixes won’t take FOREVER to finish.

What is it?

It’s something I’m calling the “Power of Three.”

I’m referring to mix revisions, or how many “versions” of a mix you do.

Take a look in your iTunes library. Do you see a lot of songs called “Song Mix 1,” “Song Mix 2″ … “Song Mix 47″ ?? If so, chances are pretty good that your song isn’t sounding all that great after 47 revisions.

I believe that (in most cases) you reach the point of diminishing returns after 3 mix revisions. Once you get to “Mix 4″ and “Mix 5,” the more you work on the mix, the more you hurt it.

My colleague Graham and I discussed this on a podcast a while back. Graham was saying that he sets the expectation with his clients that he will do no more than TWO mix revisions after the first mix, if needed.

That way, his clients know that once they receive “Mix 2,” they can make a few more suggestions, but that’s it.

Is this a way of ripping off clients or being lazy? Absolutely not.

This is how you ensure that they get a great mix and YOU don’t spend countless hours on a mix.

This also puts a healthy amount of pressure on you to make sure your first mix is really good. That way you’re just going back and making basic changes during Mix 2. And then REALLY minor tweaks for Mix 3…if needed.

So, whether you’re working on a mix for yourself or for a client, set a limit of 3 versions of the mix. Mix 3 should be the final mix. See if it helps you focus and really get things done. I bet it does.

And if you need material to practice on, there’s a great indie rock track waiting for you in the Dueling Mixes members area.

It’s the perfect song to use to experiment with the “power of three.”

Grab it here: Dueling Mixes

Joe Gilder is a Nashville based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner.

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