First Mixer Mixer recap and links, Info about Reference Tracks (Originally sent 10/20/22)

Hey all!

We sure had a great first mixer mixer! For those that were unable to make it, we listened to some tracks from Ed Yother, Lauren Grace and Ethan Bates, and me. This led to a lot of discussion and encouragement. It was great!


Reference Tracks for Mixing

I started out the Mixer Mixer discussing the importance of reference tracks. I gave the example of a mix that I'm working on. For some reason, my brain was telling me that my mix just stunk. LOL. I thought that I better pull up a reference track, a successful commercial mix of a similar song performed by a similar artist. The reference track gave me something absolute to measure my mix against so that my brain and imagination and mood couldn't fool my judgement. When I compared all the details of my mix to the excellently mixed commercial song, I found that my mix was just fine. In fact, more than fine. It was awesome! LOL. Remember the War of Art? Art is such a mind game. And one way to help clear the mind game fog is to use reference tracks to see if you're on the right track to mixing excellence.

So, when should you use reference tracks? When do pro mixers use reference tracks? The answer is always! You use reference tracks to listen and plan how to mix a track. You use reference tracks while you're mixing to make sure you're still on track. And you use the reference tracks near the end of mixing to help guide you when finishing the mix. The reference track and all of the wonderful people involved in making it become your teachers and your inspiration. It's really a beautiful thing.

Check out this great article from Warren Huart's site, Produce Like a Pro. Besides being a world class producer, mixer, and engineer (Aerosmith, The Fray, Korn) he is truly a world class educator and encourager! Do yourself a favor and sign up for his email list at The article gives a great overview of using reference tracks for mixing and also includes a video of Warren discussing how A-list mixers use reference tracks! It's a pretty deep dive but fascinating. Here's the link:


Reference Tracks for Recording

It is important to note that reference tracks can also be used to help you when you are recording an instrument. Not just for mixing. For example, when recording an acoustic guitar using a Shure SM57 microphone it's certainly helpful to listen to a professionally recorded track recorded with a SM57. Then you can hear what good is and compare your result with the professional result. It is REALLY important, however, that you are comparing your raw recording of the acoustic guitar with a professionally recorded raw recording of an acoustic guitar. Not one that has been mixed and processed. That would not be fair to you and your art.

Fortunately the British magazine Sound On Sound has a treasure trove of tracks that you can access free for just this purpose. And they are free to access and download!! And the accompanying articles are wonderful. So I will give the link to a sampling of Sound On Sound (SOS) articles and the accompanying tracks for that article. At the DIY workshop I used the acoustic guitar recordings during the presentation.

SOS Acoustic Guitar Article:

SOS Acoustic Guitar Tracks:

SOS Acoustic Piano Article:

SOS Acoustic Piano Tracks:

SOS Kick and Snare Article:

SOS Kick and Snare Tracks:

SOS Guitar Amp Article:

SOS Guitar Amp Tracks:

Sound on Sound is one of the only traditional music magazines still thriving in this age of Google. The quality of their articles and samples are surely one of the reasons why. I do subscribe to the digital version of Sound on Sound and I really like it. You may have noticed that the author of all of the linked articles is a fellow named Mike Senior. He now runs his own podcast on Patreon, writes instructional books and makes instructional videos. If you like the style of writing in the articles you may want to subscribe to his Patreon page. I do at the $1 a month level so I can get access to his wonderful mixing podcast. But regardless, his work on the free SOS articles and tracks is just awesome.

Other sources for recording an instrument can be found in many of the courses that are widely available by outstanding engineers. Most of them have downloadable tracks that are usually meant to be there so you can practice your mixing. But they can also be used so that you can compare your recordings of various instruments to the professional recordings that they used. What a resource! Warren offers some free training on his website that includes tracks of all kinds. I'd recommend that you download them and give them a listen and use them as references for your recordings. Here's the link:


Wrap Up and Invite

Many of the greatest mixers and engineers offer instructional videos for free as well as paid courses. Make sure to watch as many of these as you can as often as you can to develop your skills and get as much great advice as you can. Warren has other great engineers that mentor on his site as well. Check out their stuff. I will have to dedicate a future blog post to all of the great engineers I've learned from almost all of whom I've never met!! We live in a wonderful time! But Warren's website is as good as any to get started. :)

The next Mixer Mixer will be this coming Tuesday, October 25th at 730pm in the studio. I hope to hear some of your tracks so don't be shy! And if you want to give mixing a try with the tracks that Lauren, Jinty, and I recorded that would be awesome! If you need the link to download those tracks then go ahead and reply to this email and I'll send you the link. My opening discussion topic for the Mixer will be comparing my mix of the latest ATLYS single to the master of the same track. We'll talk about the differences between mixing and mastering and the other phases of music production. It'll be great!!!

Hope to see you Tuesday!

All the best,


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