Getting the Perfect Piece of Gear to Achieve the “Perfect” Mix

There you are, halfway through your latest mix, when you see it.  An interview with Johnny Mixerguy endorsing the SuperRadLowEnderizer 2001x.  Holy balls, this piece of gear (comes in plugin form, too) is an absolute game changer.  Nothing will be the same after this.  You simply can’t get as big and tight of a low end without it.  Years of research and expertise went into making it and your mix simply can’t compete if the SRLE2001x isn’t a part of your signal chain.

High-handed-hogwash, I declare!  Listen, gear is great.  I love gear, you love gear.  Any mix engineer who is worth his salt salivates like it’s Christmas morning and Santa has been good this year when he gets a new piece of gear.  But the simple fact is: you don’t need that fancy piece of gear for a bad-ass mix.

Hell, you need very few pieces of gear for a bad-ass mix.

If you give a good mixer a DAW, one compressor plugin, one EQ plugin, and maybe throw a distortion plugin his way just for fun; he can create a blow-yer-balls-off mix.  Anything above that is just icing on an already delicious cake.

I challenge you to take on the “No More New Gear” policy for 6 months to a year.  Whatever mixing set-up you have right now; stick with it and only it.  Learn it through and through.  Get good at limiting yourself and thereby getting creative with the tools you already have and end the constant drooling over what you don’t have.  Stop looking at ads for the latest and greatest earth shattering toys and start exploring the inner workings of what you already have.   Because you know what?  You don’t need the new gear.

Also, get at good at not making excuses for your mixes.  Never, ever, ever say “Well, my mix would be just as good as Johnny Mixerguy’s if only I had…or if only my tracks were recorded with…”

No more.  Even if your tracks were recorded into an original 16-big ADAT using all SM-57’s, don’t let that become an excuse.  The moment you start allowing excuses to make up for your mix’s weakness is the moment you stop busting balls to make your mix better.

It’s an excruciating process.  You will always feel like you’re not good enough at mixing, like you’ll never get to the level you want for yourself.  Feeling insecure about your mixes?  Guess what…the rest of us all feel that way, too.

But that’s part of the process of getting good.  Make no excuses except that you need to work harder and more often at perfecting your craft.  I guarantee you that, if you stick it, you will achieve the level you want. (And THEN you can buy the SuperRadLowEnderizer 2001x)

8 thoughts on “Getting the Perfect Piece of Gear to Achieve the “Perfect” Mix

  1. Something I feel I do need is a good Reverb plugin on top of that, and also good monitors… But I more or less agree with what your saying. I just think a lot of the time being interested in audio and being a complete gear slut go hand in hand tho. 🙂

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    • Definitely. And probably a nice delay, too. 😉
      As for monitors: good monitors are great, but I’ve seen many engineers obsess about the “perfect” monitors or setting their room up “just right” for optimum listening. This starts to become a distraction (or an excuse!) in the same way that obsessing over new gear does.
      Not that I’m innocent in all of this. I suffered from gear-envy for years and years. But great mixes can be made on very, very little. And I’ve also heard horrid mixes made on stellar gear. The person pushing the buttons is the “gear” in which to invest. The tools should be treated as just that…tools.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see which sweet distortion plugins have just been released 😉
      Thanks for reading!

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  2. Now that I think about it, I remember reading about someone doing a lot of Metal mixes entirely on headphones (Sennheiser HD400s I think) so maybe you don’t even need monitors lol. Honestly though if you can get a mix sounding good on KRK rokits then its more then likely going to sound good on any HiFi system. I think the biggest thing monitoring wise that improved my mixes was taking a F–king brake every 2-3 hours to let my ears reset.

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    • Oh, I completely agree that gear and room treatment are important. But I strongly believe that those are the last 15-20%. Not the first 80-85%. I often hear guys with a bad case of gear lust; yet their mix basics are poor.

      Focusing on the basics first and *then* supplementing with gear/treatment is where it’s at 😉

      Thanks for reading!

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