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Zen And The Art Of Mixing Review

Brandon Drury —  January 5, 2011 — Leave a comment
Zen And The Art Of Mixing

Zen And The Art Of Mixing
In The Daily Adventures Of Mixerman, we have a no-holds-barred-starring-Hulk-Hogan kind of deal going on.  He tells you exactly what is on his mind and he couldn’t give a damn about such slavery-inducing concepts as “sensitivity” or “tact”.  Don’t get me wrong.  He’s anything but a mindless barbarian.  He’s a well-spoken, sharp dude who just doesn’t give a damn and has a low tolerance for idiots.  We are a dieing breed.

In Zen And The Art Of Mixing, Mixerman must have visited the Trojan factory because we are in much, much safer territory.  All that nasty, fun stuff from before I can barely even feel this time.  You could read this book with your mom looking over your shoulder.    In fact, there are only faint little glimmers of hope here and there when it comes to the recreation aesthetic.  In Zen And The Art Of Mixing, I wasn’t able to blast through it in a few days like I did Daily Adventures.  In fact, it was much like a lot of the science books I read where the info is worth the effort, but it does take effort to read.

I guess one could argue that this is an “educational” book and it needs a serious tone.  I’d like to punch whatever accountant came up with this notion right between the balls.  I learn when I’m having fun.    End of story.  Anyone attempting to formalize “training” in a world where the pinnacle of our “industry” are coked-out remnants of human beings (basically everything in The Daily  Adventures of Mixerman) has lost their bearings.  I don’t blame Mixerman (yet!!).  I’m blaming a guy with a suit on.  If his next book is this serious, he’s going to be the victim of one of my Youtube rants and it won’t be pretty.  :D

Why This Book Is Worth Double It’s Price

Zen And The Art of Mixing is not intended to be an all-things mixing book.  The thing isn’t big enough for that.  I learned the hard way that if you want to give someone a comprehensive KAPOW, it takes multiple books, which is why it took me two years to create the 13 books in Killer Home Recording.You can’t learn mixing without understanding audio engineering, which you can’t learn without understanding……bla bla bla, you get the idea.

So this book pretty much expects you to have a good chunk of the fundamentals down.  It’s not the “Your first guitar chord” type of book, although Mixerman does an excellent job of “keeping it real”.  (I’ve been saying that a lot lately.  I don’t know what it means.)

This book is worth double the price because you have a real guy (actually, a real, OPINIONATED guy) with platinum records with his name on them telling you X.  He doesn’t beat around the bush.  He doesn’t sugar coat anything.

Example
You may remember about a month ago there was a massive debate about whether a mixer should use a 2bus compressor Compression: For Tone Or For Dynamic Control?  (I LOVE 2 bus compression, btw, as I think it’s the ONLY  way to mix PERIOD, although it appears I’m in the minority here at Recording Review.)  Ironically, not long afterwards, I find out in Zen And The Art Of Mixing that Mixerman feels the same way.  While it’s possible (or even likely) that we are both crazy, I suspect that there is something to this.

While I pretty much take everyone’s opinion on a provisional basis (with a hefty helping of skepticism), when a real deal platinum engineer dude feels STRONGLY about something that I’ve found to be ultra-effective myself, that one gets a nice, big “No Longer Worrying About It” stamp.  This magical stamp is something us home recorders normally only dream about!  The “What if I’m doing it wrong?” complex eats us all alive!

This notion of having a big wig confirm your views is absolutely critical.  This is the #1 reason I recommend the Michael Wagener Workshop to everyone.  It was one of the best times of my life.  Mixerman, Ken Scott, and a few other big wigs are putting something similar together.  Maybe he’ll post the details.

Other Highlights
Mixerman put quite a bit of time into the sections on working with artists, how he charges, and things of that sort.  He’s obviously been there and done that.  This knowledge is not something you can gain normally unless you go ahead and stick the fork in the electric outlet yourself.

Fair Warning!  Mixerman tells you right off the bat that this isn’t a checklist to mixing platinum records.  Those don’t exist.  It teaches you how to think.  I personally find this more valuable. 

Well done, Mixerman.  Just next time a person in a suit has an opinion pull out any of 10,000 smart-ass comments from Daily Adventures…..please.

Brandon

Saved Comments


thatgtrguy – 01-21-2011, 04:20 PM
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I agree. This was a great read.

For a long time I felt like I was alone in thinking that summing ITB outright sucks. Had MANY forum people telling me it was my imagination.

And then to have mixerman confirm that I wasn’t imagining things was a huge boost to my “should I even be mixing” worries.

brandondrury’s Avatar
brandondrury – 01-21-2011, 04:37 PM
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Yeah, I like how Mixerman flat out says, “Summing in the box sucks” (paraphrased). I still have to test this one. (Part of that “provisional” thing.) However, my mixes summed through my Toft ATB32 have had something “right” about them. We’ll see if they hold up when I sum ITB.

We need more guys like this who flat out say, “This is what I freakin’ think”.

Brandon

Outloaf’s Avatar
Outloaf – 01-29-2011, 04:00 AM
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Im waiting on the A&H GS r24.. I am sick to death of mouse mixing.. I need to see all the channels and do simultaneous eq “puzzle piecing”.. Can’t do that without a board in front of your face machine!

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waynepd – 01-30-2011, 06:50 AM
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I have them(actually both books) on order from Amazon. I read some of the insides that were available online and thought these look like fun and would be a good addition to KHR in my quest to learn more of the Dark Arts of sound recording and mixing. I should have them by March.

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jackslab1 – 02-07-2011, 03:26 PM
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I gotta say that both books are a good source of info. Thanks for the review and bringing this my attention. I loved them. Now if I could just afford your KHR books I’d be in business. Maybe this april or so.

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miccimiao – 02-20-2011, 12:37 PM
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Interesting read. Pretty easy and fast reading experience. Not big amount of great info. But a few really really good tips are in there.

It is not a book about mixing, but a book about one person’s approach to mixing. No question, a good one.

8/10

solidwalnut’s Avatar
solidwalnut – 02-23-2011, 02:37 PM
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This is a great read. More than I expected. Like miccimiao says, it’s a book about the approach to mixing, not how to twist knobs. I am finding it a very refreshing approach. One I can grab onto.

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garageband – 02-23-2011, 03:17 PM
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I was unaware you were in the minority with thinking that mixing while listening through a master bus compressor was a bad idea. Kinda seemed 60/40 for, to me. Since this thread links outside, this probably isn’t the time to brag about (or post pictures of) my newly acquired, massive, somewhat-vintage, console. I think I may get the book. He’s also participated a couple times on the forum, which is pretty cool.

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lmont – 04-10-2011, 02:18 PM
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I’ve read a couple posts that referenced Daily Adventures and now after reading this, my interest has peaked. I am new to surrounding myself in a studio environment, I hope these books will serve me well as a guide through new waters.

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RAREstudios – 05-20-2011, 11:10 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by Outloaf View Post
Im waiting on the A&H GS r24.. I am sick to death of mouse mixing.. I need to see all the channels and do simultaneous eq “puzzle piecing”.. Can’t do that without a board in front of your face machine!
Let me know what you find. I’m going to buy one… unless I hear something bad about the gs-r24m…. Then I’ll research more… Everything I’ve heard thus far says it’s an amazing console other than shipping issues….

 

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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