on 1 May 2011
This book is a fantastic resource that I expect will dramatically improve my mixing abilities. What more could you ask for than that?
I've now read the book from cover to cover. I plan to read it a second time, working through each chapter's lessons, and then I'm sure it will become a fairly constant reference in my studio after that.
I don't think the book is necessarily for everyone, which works out great for people like me. I think a complete novice would probably struggle with this dense book, while a pro can write their own (though I suspect that they would still learn from this book, just as the author - and his readers - profit by his many interviews with top mixing engineers). But if you're situated somewhere in-between rookie and pro, this book is pitched perfectly for your needs. That's me, and I've read a lot of books on the subject, but none this good.
What I most appreciate about the book is that it is strategic, methodical, rigorous, and straightforward.
By strategic, I mean that the author has a vision to which all the advice of the book is oriented: producing commercial grade audio mixes. Yes, there are lots of tactical tips sprinkled throughout the text, and they're quite helpful, but these are always in service to the greater goal. This is not a 'mixing tips' book, per se - it's something much better than that, a mixing strategy book.
The book is also very methodical in its approach. The author walks you through the process from beginning to end, explaining what is important and what is less so, showing how each step needs to build on prior work, and helping readers understand why his procedural order makes more sense than whatever method (or none at all) people might be employing on their own.
The author's approach is rigorous as well. Mike Senior clearly takes the art and science of mixing seriously, and he encourages his readers to do the same. He doesn't pull punches in telling us the scale of effort required to mix at the level to which he's trying to get his readers. I appreciated those benchmarks. They help give me a sense of what is required, and inspire me to go the extra distance in order to get there.
Finally, the book is straightforward in the sense that Mr. Senior seems to be free of faddish biases or particular hardware/software fetishes. He's not selling anything other than better mixes. He is simply devoted to telling his readers what works.
And, as an extra added bonus, he does so with humor. And some days, when it's just you and that recalcitrant song mix punching each other silly in the arena, you need that!
But here's the most amazing thing of all. Mike includes his email address in the book. So I thought, what the heck, and I emailed him some questions. He responded promptly and thoroughly. That's really amazing. It's like having a company provide great customer support for their complicated product - only it's not hardware or software, it's a book! His willingness to support those of us in the field (see his website, Cambridge Music Technology) demonstrates a real love for the art itself combined with a rare generosity of spirit. Massive kudos for that!
In short, here's the bottom line: If much improved mixing is your aspiration, and if you're serious about it, buy this book pronto.
on 31 July 2012
If you're like me and relatively new to audio & midi mixing, this book is invaluable. I've read several books on the subject and what I really wanted to know was the practical process of putting together a selection of audio and midi tracks to create a quality sound. I got into mixing because two friends and I occasionally play together and we thought it would be great to have some record of our sessions. So armed with a couple of Zoom R series recorders and Cubase 6.5, I decided to "get stuck in".
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio gives me all I want to know from a practical point of view and while the importance of creating a good recording and mixing environment is stated in some detail, the majority of the book focuses on getting your hands dirty and actually mixing. The chapters are presented in a logical order, similar to how you would approach a real-life mixing session and for this reason, it is recommended that the book is read through in this order but once read, it's easy to dip in and out of sections for a refresher due to the excellent index and sensible chapter and section numbering. There is a reference section at the back covering producers and mixing engineers (from whom a lot of the specifics have been gathered) and details of books and magazines which have supplied quotes from these people.
For those of us on relatively limited budgets (and who isn't these days!), the author points you in the direction of the many free plug-ins available on the Internet to supplement whatever your chosen DAW has - and he doesn't make the mistake of concentrating on any particular DAW either so the text is quite generic. Also, many parts of the book refer to procedures, tips & tricks that I've not come across in other books or magazine; for example, setting the mixer faders to aroun 0dB and using pre-gain controls (either part of the DAW or 3rd party plug-ins) to adjust the gain of each channel. This way you get to use the mixer fader where it is most sensitive.
Mike Senior writes with a very easy and understandable style and does not beat you about the head with lots of numbers and equations; he also has a nice line in humour which does not get in the way of putting the subject over. The only other book that I can see me refering back to on this subject is Roey Izhaki's "Mixing Audio", which treats the subject in a more technical manner.
Excellent value for money and the usual great service from Amazon!
So, in a nutshell, "Mixing Secrets" is a winner in my opinion and should be the first book on the subject to be read if your just starting out.
on 28 June 2013
I really do love this book. I've only just started to learn how to record and mix myself and had been muddling along looking up the odd YouTube tutorial when I got stuck, but just "having a go" without really having a structured methodology to apply. Hence my early mixes were typical of a small studio producer: too much instrumentation, very muddy, cluttered sounding and just obviously amateur in sound quality.
What I love about Mike's book is that he give you a method to follow. I read the book first cover to cover and his approach really appealed to me because it was saying: here's where you begin, next do this, then do this, etc etc, building on each layer till you get through the whole process and come out the other side with, at the very least, a well balanced mix. He spends the first few chapters giving advice on monitoring and supplementary monitoring so you can really hear what your mix sounds like. He gives you advice on acoustically treating your room etc so once you've passed through the first few chapters and followed his advice at the very least you will be equipped to "hear" your mix properly and therefore make properly informed balancing decisions.
Mike then explains the pro mindset to approaching mixing: editing first and getting everything sounding tight before you move onto balancing and using your various mix tools. He supplements every chapter with quotes from countless interviews with the world's best mix engineers and has really done an excellent job about finding the points of commonality between all these great engineers and how they approach mixes to construct an A, B, C, step by step guide that someone learning the art of mixing can take. Once you're well versed and producing great commercial mixes you can adopt any non-linear method you like if it gets you results. But for someone like me who didn't know where to begin, it was just so great to have a structured method to follow.
The other thing Mike does is augment the book with online resources which I frequently refer back to ask I go through each chapter. He gives you links to freeware plugins to supplement the plugins you might have in your DAW and recommends affordable plugins where he feels necessary. Mike genuinely seems to have a desire to give home studio or small studio producers the right tools to create competitive mixes.
This book has helped me adopt a professional mentality to how I approach recording, editing and then mixing. I can't recommend it highly enough, it's really a fantastic guide for someone keen to learn how to mix to commercial grade in their own studios and this book does a great job of demystifying audio production terminology. It's not an idiot's guide by any stretch of the imagination. You will need to concentrate and get your head around some difficult concepts but if you persevere and work through a mix project with the book, you'll see your skills as a mix engineer improve dramatically.
Not sure how useful it would be to an experienced mix engineer as that's not the perspective I'm writing from. But from discussing some of the ideas I've learnt with friends of mine who are experienced and studied audio production etc, it's been quite rewarding telling them some practices I've adopted that they didn't really do! :-) Good luck!!
on 23 May 2011
I'm not even halfway through the book yet and I can already hear improvements to the sound quality of my studio and mixes. I believe the strongest points of this book are:
1. It explains all important issues that small studios (and even larger ones) users face and how to address them.
2. It contains a lot of practical exercises to really hear and understand the concepts described.
At the end of each chapter, there is a summary of the concepts described and a list of practical exercises. In addition, throughout his book, Mike Senior gives a lot of ideas to experiment with, songs to listen to as well as useful tips. This is complemented by audio files and additional information on his website.
Reading this book is therefore like sitting in a private course / workshop with Mike Senior! I therefore highly recommend it.
on 18 April 2012
I purchased this book at a time when I was feeling quite uninspired musically-I guess I was just feeling a little disillusioned and lost some of my earlier passion for being creative. I had been wanting to improve my mixing skills and understanding of this art form for some time, but was a little uncertain regarding which book to purchase, as there are quite a few on the market. However, after seeing some positive feedback regarding this book I decided to purchase it and what really swung it for me was the fact that it was written by an English based Engineer/Author who's articles I was very familiar with from the Sound On Sound magazine. Well, as soon as I started reading this book I immediately felt so inspired again and just couldn't put it down. The language used is easy to understand and whilst he does use some technical terms it doesn't boggle the mind! I would say that I probably would not recommend it for an absolute beginner, but feel it is aimed at the more intermediate end of the scale. I know that I will continue to refer to this book in month/years to come and it has helped me to understand techniques that I never fully understood prior to reading this book. It also makes you want to get creative and experiment with the techniques that are being taught. I had also been wanting to add acoustic treatment to my home studio, but never quite understood the best way to do so, but this book offered some good advice regarding placement and so finally got around to purchasing some acoustic tiles and bass traps. I also have changed my speaker positioning following the advice from this book from horizontal to vertical-Great tip for my NS10's! All I can say is that if you are considering ordering this book then don't hesitate as it will be money well spent!
on 15 October 2011
I'm in the Third year of a Music Technology degree and this book has been such a massive help that I'm basing my dissertation on it!
While I was comfortable with most of the concepts Mike talks about, the clear and concise way he writes made the book a joy to work with. The beginning section helped me to fit out my home project studio with the right amount of acoustic treatment, and Mike's advice on monitor selection really opened my eyes (and ears!) to things like ported speakers.
The real treat however is in the structure that Mike provides you with in order to approach each mix in the right way. It's all very well knowing what a compressor or eq does, but knowing why and when to use it is vital in maintaing an effective workflow. Mike's book gives you a clear understanding of where to start and when to move on to the next task, something that has transformed my mix work. The section on effects is enlightening, really getting to grips with why you need them to take a mix to the next level.
The mix preparation section gives you vital advice on timing and tuning edits, as well as all important phase alignment issues. These are things that you have to deal with if you want a great sounding mix and Mike explains them in easy to understand ways.
It's all great, your mixing will improve a hundred fold.
on 7 February 2016
Mixing Secrets is a fantastic book full of detail that will help any home studio enthusiast no matter what your skills or gear are like.
The book is broken down into key areas, all as comprehensive as the last. It covers proper monitoring and mix prep in the first hundred pages. Room acoustics, monitors, headphones, mix referencing, proper use of high pass filters, tuning and timing, comping and arranging; all are laid bare here. Seems like a lot of text until you really understand the issues being discussed.
The next section of the book looks at building a mix using the tools most people would think about like faders, compression, EQ. Finally it looks at the “sweeteners”, reverb, delays, automation, etc. In each section you are guided carefully through basic principles into more advanced techniques. Mr Senior provides an excellent strategy and step by step process to help build a solid mix. As the book progresses there is an acknowledgement that this is structured in order to facilitate understanding rather than be a hard and fast process. I feel as though it is something I would stick with for a long time, though, as my mixing skills have increased hugely in the few months I've had this book. Understanding your mix in terms of the song's message and gearing up your mixing decisions to enhance the song seems to be the message. That might sound obvious until you appreciate the extent to which all our mixing decisions can influence the process.
Well written and presented, despite being a huge subject, the content remains accessible. Personally, I think of this as a permanent reference tool rather than a quick read. I would advise everyone to do the end of chapter assignments. I have made quicker progress doing this and can honestly say I understand what and why I'm doing things now. It's one of those books that reveals new layers as you learn more. However, the real beauty of this book is that the Mr Senior clearly understands the home studio and the short cuts we will take when mixing tracks. He tackles these directly and offers great explanations for everything in his book.
To support the book the author has a website that is ridiculously comprehensive. Book assignments are linked directly to the web content. Examples of effects and techniques abound. There is even a library of songs, broken down into individual tracks. These are free to download and practice everything that is in the book.
If you have questions you are encouraged to use the online forums or contact the author directly via e-mail. I have contacted Mr Senior with a really tricky question and he responded with great advice that has given me much more understanding of the detail already laid out in his book. In this brief e-mail exchange I felt like he is really passionate about his books but also about the people using them. He was very supportive and encouraging in his responses.
Seriously, buy this book. While you are filling your Amazon basket, take a look at another book, Recording Secrets For The Small Studio. It's the same high quality, same author, only spotlighting recording techniques as the title suggests.
on 27 July 2011
In his chapter on "Timing and Tuning Adjustments" Mike Senior explains how a drummer may drift accurately from a DAW's metric grid and how the home studio owner can adjust this drift to fit the overall groove. He concludes this paragraph with a parenthetical comment:
If you're still scratching your head about this, then check out Figure 6.1 for further
clarification. (Mixing Secrets, p91)
At this point in my reading, the author's sentence literally caught me scratching my head, and I self-consciously removed my hand from my scalp to turn to the helpful graph on the following page. This may seem like a silly anecdote, but it does illustrate one of Mike Senior's greatest strengths as an author on a technical subject: he never fails to anticipate where his reader is at and is so often spot on in guiding him or her to a complete understanding of what is often difficult subject matter. These readers are most likely people like me, for whom some initial dabbling in home recording has turned into a full-blown obsession over the years, and who, like me, are sometimes stumped by a lack of technical training. Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio successfully addresses these gaps in knowledge and experience, and the author does this with clarity, and a level of detail, depth and organisation with which online forums, though valuable, cannot compete. (Think of trying to evaluate the best of several, perhaps conflicting answers, or enduring the banter...or perhaps even abuse of `the pros' online).
I have found Mike Senior to be friendly, helpful, funny and communicative, both in his writing as well as his online presence-an excellent website containing recommended products, plugins and multitrack wav files, all directly relevant to the text. He is open to constructive feedback and where possible takes time to answer questions. Additionally, the author's down-to-earth and realistic approach will help you squeeze the most out of your budget, whatever it may be.
There are a lot of `professional hobbyists' out there, and I am sure that after reading this book they would have to agree that it is one of a handful of truly excellent resources out there to help us achieve our goal: to become better at recording and mixing, and perhaps give our friends, family, band-members and fans something worth listening to.
on 13 November 2011
This is the first time that I have done a review on Amazon, but the value of this book should be shouted from the rooftops. So here goes:
"BUY THIS BOOK!"
It is certainly the most important book I have read on home recording/mixing. Mike, as with his articles in Sound on Sound, demystifies all aspects of mixing. As someone who has worked on home recording for about 10 years, this is the first time I have really understood the RIGHT WAY to compress, Eq and add reverb.
The thing that I have found with some other books of this nature is that they make everything seem so complicated, but what I got out of this book is how to simplify the process of mixing, and these "keep it simple" principles will be as relevant now as in 10 years (when we are on Logic 22.1 and at the press of the button a full Symphony Orchestra will virtually appear in your room and play Beethoven's 5th whilst you sip a cup of herbal tea).
Downsides? Well sometimes the jokes are a bit cheesy (but in the most charming way possible!). Also, you may spend a bit of time on the internet trying to buy a single Avantone Mix cube (hint.. these guys stock it.. [...]
So, BUY THIS BOOK... Now!
on 1 October 2011
I read the Kindle sample and was immediately hooked. I ordered a hardcopy and read it in a couple of days. You really cannot speed too much while absorbing the knowledge from the book. Mike did a fantastic job laying out a standard step by step mixing process. Knowing what to do first and what to do next is simply reassuring. He really concentrates on small studios giving various suggestions considerning the tools (both freeware and commercial). Lots of examples are given on his webpage, most of them taken from the Mix Rescue series and they do help understand what Mike wanted to say. If Mike was to upgrade the book I'd be glad to see a mix project taken through all the steps that he describes in the book. But that may be asking too much...
I recommend the book to all aspiring home studio owners, who struggle to find their way through the first mixes or are unhappy with the results. It surely does not tell you everything (personally I found the Roey Izhaki's book to be complementing this one nicely) but it gives your more than necessary for the start.