Are mixing tutorials worth watching?

Hi there, I was wondering what everyone here thinks about this topic: Whether mixing tutorials (especially on YouTube) are worth watching or are they simply a waste of your time? I recently came across a video on this topic and felt like it made a lot of sense:

I think it's really interesting how every mixing tutorial I ever clicked on made a LOT of sense when I was watching them, but when I sit down to actually make a track none of that actually matters and the only thing on my mind is "how to I FINISH this track and move on to the next one." :) It happens every single time, I always end up clicking on the new tutorial I see on the YouTube page (because frankly, it's VERY tempting) and I always tell myself that I'll try THAT technique when I'm sitting down to make my next track...but, when I actually sit down to make a track, I almost always forget all about those tutorials or those techniques. I think the reason is because for me, just making/completing a decent (or "okay" sounding) track is difficult enough and I sweat as I' struggle to compose/write all the parts (that hopefully make some sense) So the last thing on my mind (as I'm struggling to complete a track) is the techniques that I learned while watching those mixing tutorials (and I must admit that I've watched a LOT of mixing tutorials over the years) :) Would love hear what your views are on this topic. Thanks :)
 
Hi there, I was wondering what everyone here thinks about this topic: Whether mixing tutorials (especially on YouTube) are worth watching or are they simply a waste of your time? I recently came across a video on this topic and felt like it made a lot of sense:

I think it's really interesting how every mixing tutorial I ever clicked on made a LOT of sense when I was watching them, but when I sit down to actually make a track none of that actually matters and the only thing on my mind is "how to I FINISH this track and move on to the next one." :) It happens every single time, I always end up clicking on the new tutorial I see on the YouTube page (because frankly, it's VERY tempting) and I always tell myself that I'll try THAT technique when I'm sitting down to make my next track...but, when I actually sit down to make a track, I almost always forget all about those tutorials or those techniques. I think the reason is because for me, just making/completing a decent (or "okay" sounding) track is difficult enough and I sweat as I' struggle to compose/write all the parts (that hopefully make some sense) So the last thing on my mind (as I'm struggling to complete a track) is the techniques that I learned while watching those mixing tutorials (and I must admit that I've watched a LOT of mixing tutorials over the years) :) Would love hear what your views are on this topic. Thanks :)
Funny you should bring up the topic, I'm going through a similar recording tutorial binge. I think I fall into the same boat where I get tempted by all these thumbnails. I see the video and think, "I need to watch that video before I record anything else." Haha. Then every once in a while I realize that for the most part, nothing will make my recordings better than making more of them. I think a tutorial here and there is definitely helpful, but it can get in the way of doing actual recording. Something I know all too well ☺️
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I’ve steered clear of tutorials that tell you how to mix, and even EQ because you have no control of what the listener is hearing, so don’t know if they heard what you did that made you push the fader, or if they will misunderstand. If you blur the first note of the trumpet coming in to make in less of a jump, will they think you always do this, or if you have three faders doing guitars and two are doing fast, one slow and you only raise the two fasts, they could hear two highs and two lows and assume it’s the pitch not rhythm you are mixing. If some of your mix involves very low synth bass and kick, will their dinky 5” monitors make any sense. When you do tutorials on any subject, it’s one way communication. This works pretty well for some things, but there’s need instant response for understanding. Mixing, tonal choices, maybe even compression. I’ve had so many students learn compression by rote. They never learned what it sounded like. They could hear changes in volume, pitch and decay, but they could not hear dynamics until one day, the eureka moment happened.

it’s a bit like the tune a guitar by ear videos. That quaint beating you use. Is that actually a sound in the air, or one generated in your brain? Any decent guitarist, even those who use tuners, hear it and that makes you tune. Some people cannot hear it. Until they do, the tutorial is pointless.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
On occasion, I would watch a mixing tute just out of interest. But I always, within a very short space of time, find my mind wandering because I cannot relate what the mixer is doing to the songs I have, with their twists and turns. There aren't any mixing tutorials for the kind of songs I have. So I find reading general principles far more useful and even they ain't saying much !
Maybe because I learned mixing in an internet~less era, I see the innate value of ploughing one's own furrow. The only piece of mixing advice I've ever kept in mind came from the manual of the Fostex X15 "Apart from the accepted method of keeping the bass and lead vocals in the centre...." or words to that effect. And even then, I don't always do that with the vocals.
 

jamesperrett

Active member
I haven't watched any of the linked videos but in general there is so much rubbish on YouTube on the subject of mixing that it confuses more than helps. People think that they need to have a complex signal chain on every channel because that's what they think the pros do. One resource that is fairly safe to recommend is Mike Senior's book, "Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio" and his associated website:


I probably wouldn't agree with everything he says but in general he heads in the right direction.
 

RFR

Well-known member
There are those who watch, and then there are those that DO.

But in defense of tutorial videos, I’ve found Protools and Reaper instructional videos extremely useful.
 

R D Smith

Member
I haven't watched any of the linked videos but in general there is so much rubbish on YouTube on the subject of mixing that it confuses more than helps. People think that they need to have a complex signal chain on every channel because that's what they think the pros do. One resource that is fairly safe to recommend is Mike Senior's book, "Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio" and his associated website:


I probably wouldn't agree with everything he says but in general he heads in the right direction.
A friend that has a studio recommended this book to me. It is helpful. The mixing exercises are pretty good.
 

Farview

Well-known member
Just like with anything else, if something claims to contain the "secret the pros don't want you to know", it is most likely horse shit.

I've watched a few, just to get ideas on alternate approaches to specific problems. But the reality I that there are so many variables that there will never be a single method, approach or technique that will always get you a professional sounding mix.

The OP also mentioned that he was too bogged down in the writing process to use the mix techniques from the tutorial. Writing, recording and mixing are 3 separate things. If you try to do them all at once, you are going to do none of them as well as you could.

Write the song, then record it possibly using recording techniques from tutorials. Once it's recorded, then mix it. You can't focus on everything at once.

If your goal is to just finish and move on, you may need to reevaluate. In your rush to finish, you are ending up with mixes you aren't happy with because your focus is getting through it instead of creating a quality outcome.
 

dobro

Well-known member
Write the song, then record it possibly using recording techniques from tutorials. Once it's recorded, then mix it. You can't focus on everything at once.

Yeah, exactly. Plus, I add a fourth step, between Jay's first and second steps - play it a lot. (This is for people who record their own stuff.) Play its ass off. It accomplishes a couple of things. Practice makes perfect, as they say. Plus, both the song and how you deliver it changes usually if you play it dozens of times between writing and recording. But mostly, it makes the recording process way more fun, and way more memorable - instead of tons of takes and worrying about mistakes, you've got a keeper in a couple of takes usually.

Disclaimer: With some people, with some tunes, record it as soon as you write - rules are made to be broken. (But the reason I use the above approach is because it's proved itself with real results I can count on. Things generally turn out better when you know your stuff.)
 

dobro

Well-known member
I apologize for going off topic with the above post, but now I'll come back on topic. Maybe Youtubery is generally bullshit on mixing, but I bought a pay-for 'how to mix' series of tutorials offered by Graham Cochrane, and I learned stuff from that. About the same time, I dollared down on a round of Mix With The Masters, and although it was incredibly fascinating and worth the price of admission, I didn't learn as much as with Cochrane, the main reason being that Cochrane mixed in Protools, whereas most of the 'masters' mixed on Star Trek-grade mixing desks. I mix in software.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Not sure there is a practical difference really - if am 'real' mixer is digital, then the quality of the initial and final A to D and D to A conversion is paramount. The actual balance, and other features should all be transparent. If you mix in software then that applies to protools too - and the star trek consoles were just facilities and the analague sound (for better or worse) but the process on all of them hasn't changed for a very long time - Sound in digital using maths to fade, or a thin bit of carbon with analogue AC going through it? Is it better? The answer I suspect varies.
 

dobro

Well-known member
Rob, what you say is true in a way that misses an essential point about how people learn - people learn in different ways, and the lesson that works is the lesson that actually reaches the student and improves their knowledge and knowhow. I learned more from the Cochrane videos than from the 'Masters' videos. That was my experience, and that's what I'm reporting. The reason for that was twofold:

* Cochrane was explaining how to mix in a language that was more familiar to me - for example, watching him adjust a bell curve EQ was more familiar to me than watching Chris Lord-Alge doing lightning knob tweaks on the desk.

* Cochrane was a better educator - he was trying to provide a comprehensive approach to mixing that numties like me could understand. He was a teacher, in other words. The 'masters', by contrast, were demonstrating how they did a particular mix on a particular tune. Autobiography, almost. I learned from watching them (the apprentice looking over the shoulder of the master while he plies his trade), but I learned more from the educator who was concerned that I learned stuff.
 
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Pinky

and The Brain...
100% true about how people learn differently.

Couple other ideas/takeaways...

1) There's no substitute for experience. Spending hours adjusting a mix then returning with different ears years later and hearing the deficiencies. Time is the only teacher in this regards, you need to make mistakes and then the time/more experience to learn from them. There's no crash course in life, and certainly not for technical pursuits like sound engineering and mixing. These videos are best to introduce someone to the functional side of the tools and techniques.

2) Playback (monitoring) environment is a huge factor in how well any mix will turn out.

3) Some people have better ears for these things, and/or can translate what they're hearing into an outcome using the tools available. Some of this is learned/taught, some of it is raw/innate ability. You're not going to hit a baseball 500 feet if you're 5' 3" and 110 pounds. We all have limitations, and our ears like any other physical parts varies from person to person. Same for people who are "good at math", empathetic, etc. We are who we are, and some of us just aren't good 'listeners'.

4) Watching certain 'reaction' videos (like Geebz and Beato) who discuss production elements, helps to hone in on what techniques and strategies are being deployed that make a mix work. Sometimes less is more, sometimes drenching instruments or the whole track in reverb sets a particular tone/desired effect. Why a punchy snare isn't always ideal. Booming kick drum, crunchy guitars, present or distant vocal, etc etc etc. These guys discuss the elements within the mix and how those elements are working to help elevate the enjoyment of the song.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I don’t disagree with that at all, I explained it badly. I was thinking about how the different mixers changed sound rather than the process of turning a real knob. Last night I spent some money on a new vsti. Some YouTube user videos were simply awful and I didn’t even understand anything one guy said, so full of words like beats, toons, out there, dope, sick etc etc. I wanted to know if it was able to X or do Y and he was just excited by it to the point I gave up. Another guy told me all the answers I needed so I bought it. Jury is out however as it does not do Z which I just assumed was obvious, but clearly nobody bar me does that particular thing.

youtube videos need to please the viewers but we are all so different.
 

dobro

Well-known member
Despite the 'don't judge a book by its cover' rule, I give Youtube tutors about a minute before I dump them. I want to know if they know their stuff, and I want to know how much their presentation style irritates me. If the irritation factor gets to me first, I dump them. :D I lasted about 20 seconds with the guy that Endlessrain linked to.
 
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