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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably helpful look into high-level professional mixing workflow, art, and attitude.
This is not your usual textbook-style, technique and theory book. Whereas most mixing books focus on the analytical, left-side of the brain, Zen and the Art of Mixing focuses on the "big picture".

Quick foreword:

I received this book the first day of release(pre-ordered) and I just finished it. Why did it take so long you wonder? Well, this is one of...
Published on 20 Jan 2011 by D. Kim

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great approach to the subject dealing with the philosophy of music production, however....
As the title of my review suggests this book deals well with the philosophy of how to approach a mix; as opposed to being a book focusing entirely on the technology and equipment, some pitfalls to avoid when mixing and then dealing with clients (this particular part I found particularly helpful as well as the mastering section) and a professional step by step guidline to...
Published 17 months ago by G. Mulholland


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably helpful look into high-level professional mixing workflow, art, and attitude., 20 Jan 2011
By 
D. Kim "DeyBwah" (CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is not your usual textbook-style, technique and theory book. Whereas most mixing books focus on the analytical, left-side of the brain, Zen and the Art of Mixing focuses on the "big picture".

Quick foreword:

I received this book the first day of release(pre-ordered) and I just finished it. Why did it take so long you wonder? Well, this is one of those rare books where every page is oozing with insights and wisdom! I wanted to take my time so I wouldn't miss anything. That's not to say his writing is archaic or requires you to solve puzzles to understand. In fact, it's quite the opposite! Mixerman's writing style is just as personable and enjoyable as his first book, The Daily Adventures of Mixerman. And just like the first book, Zen and the Art of Mixing continues to impart the elevating experience of making you feel as if you're actually IN it.

Background:

I started recording and mixing in 1999. My first gig, like many others, was recording my band's first album. I was the most technically savvy person in our group so I asserted myself into the position of engineer. I was immediately hooked! The group has dissolved since then, and many other groups along the way, but engineering has only grown and matured. Before I knew it, I was on the forums regularly, trying to find guidance on this elusive and all-encompassing musical path. I've read plenty of books, threads - watched countless tutorials - carefully invested in quality gear - and spent endless hours in front of my DAW.

There have been many milestones in my journey... those "ah-HA!" moments where you find yourself propelled into a higher plane of engineering art--when a concept or principle suddenly "clicks" and you're forever changed from that point forward. Zen and the Art of Mixing will set a new milestone in your craft. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to not only engineers, but also artists, producers, and the less common music listener who is interested in what lies behind the curtain of a musical production.

Review:

So much is covered in this relatively small book, it's quite astounding actually. From a Utilitarian point-of-view, it is very effective and efficient. I can easily take this book with me wherever I go. And I do.

I won't discuss every topic in the book, but I will mention one particular area of confusion that has been clarified for me.(of many)

Workflow.

Mixerman carefully lays out his workflow in mixing for all to see in Chapter 3 - The Mechanics. This is uncut, uncensored, and VERY eye-opening. At least it was for me as I'm very compulsive and tend to work more effectively when I have a lay of the land. Mixerman goes from the beginning of a mix, to the end, in order. Oh, and how lovely it feels to find some order in this madness we call mixing. A lot of the workflow, I'm already quite familiar with, but as fragmented pieces. After reading The Mechanics, I am no longer fragmented and there is a sense of clarity and calm in my approach to mixing. Zen indeed.

For example, the first part of a new mix, Discovery and Framing. Discovery is the initial step of purely gathering information. Framing is the following step of constructing a rough mix, keeping in mind, the fine-tuning will come later. In other words, the logic is that, in order to make detailed/specific mixing decisions, one has to at least have an foundational rough mix. How many times in our youthful engineering days have we opened up a brand new mix, and prematurely dove into nitty gritty minutia of things, only to find ourselves revisiting those fine-level mixing decisions over and over again? A great recipe for exaggerating the already deterring effect of chasing one's tail. Oh how I wish someone would have pointed out this obvious step as plainly as MM does, because it IS a step... but for some reason, I hadn't given it much thought. What I mean is, I was already doing my own discovery and framing in my workflow, but I didn't consciously recognize it. In other words, knowing the step explicitly has given me the ability to consciously maximize my own initial discovery and framing phase. Less tail chasing!

Below are the sections in The Mechanics--you can get an idea of the workflow order.

Discovery and Framing
Phase Coherency
Drums
Bass
Monitoring Levels
Bring in the Parts!
Underdubbing
Parts
Electric Guitar
Acoustic Guitar
Piano and Keyboards
Percussion
Science Experiments
Referencing Other Mixes
Rough Mixes
Makethe Mix Sing,Pop,and Gel
Automation
The Vocal
Compression
Finding Compromise
The Payoff
Refining and Enhancing
Finishing Your Mix
Mix Notes
Printing the Mix
Saying Goodbye Is Hard to Do

Conclusion:

Zen and the Art of Mixing has set a new standard for mixing books. I will proudly say, it has unlocked, organized, and affirmed my mixing potential. What I hope to communicate in this review is... there really is NO book on mixing quite like this one. I'm not referring solely to the "big picture" perspective MM takes, but more importantly, his genuine and unabashed writing style that captures his 20+ years of mixing professionally AND his "take no prisoners" attitude in regards to his mixing beliefs. In other words, where other authors may tip-toe around, dryly/technically explain, or even entirely omit certain topics, Mixerman fiercely discusses every taboo or controversial topic and actually picks a side, explains his reasons, and even invites you to join him. For example, MM discusses the benefits to summing analog(OTB), and how digital summing is essentially "broken". I fully agree with him on this from my recent experiences mixing with a summing box. I have to say, it is so refreshing to read something so "real" and "unadulterated", especially in a field that is dominated by scientific measurements/specs/numbers/data.

Finally, I have yet to disagree outright with anything Mixerman discusses and that may or may not change down the road(as MM even said for himself) as I grow in my craft, but right now, I'm enjoying the next level of mixing that has been ignited by MM's writings. And MM encourages his readers who do disagree to engage him in the forums for some healthy debates. :)

Zen and the Art of Mixing should have a spot on every mixing engineer's bookshelf. In practical terms, no other purchase will come close to improving your mixes for under $20, so buy it NOW.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great approach to the subject dealing with the philosophy of music production, however...., 27 Feb 2013
By 
G. Mulholland "Gearóid" (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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As the title of my review suggests this book deals well with the philosophy of how to approach a mix; as opposed to being a book focusing entirely on the technology and equipment, some pitfalls to avoid when mixing and then dealing with clients (this particular part I found particularly helpful as well as the mastering section) and a professional step by step guidline to setting up the mix and bringing it to the finishing stage. For that reason there really is some genuinely useful advice here. I just get the impression that like many other people in the trade and Mixerman is no exception that the digital age has little or no merits as regards getting quality results from your productions inside the box. I would say that that is a very true statement but surely digital recording and mixing has improved greatly since the 1990's? The footprint is smaller for those who have not got the space for a 48 channel mixer and the anolog outboards and tape machines to go with it (all of which need regular servicing).
I found that he is unwilling to give any examples to make his points in the book which leaves the reader with nothing available to compare his complaints or statements against, that to me is pretty futile at the behest of him possibly losing face with certain clients or engineers within his circle. If you're going to write a book like this I think you need to back this up so the reader can make their own opinions on these things. Whatever happened to professional criticsim or constructive criticism for that matter? It's done in professional sport all the time so why not in this context? In my opinion it would be a lot more helpful than the 'not mentioning any names' approach. But the thing that bugged me the most about this book and I know it may be a minor thing for a lot of people who have already read it, is the fact that everyone in it is referred to in the feminine, the producer is a she/her, the mastering engineer is a she/her, everyone in the band is she/her, you get the idea. I don't know what the thinking behind this is whether it is to be somehow not to upset females who are involved in the industry which is fair enough but it just gets overbearing and very annoying after a while during the entire course of the book...
Would it not have been better to put he/she at the start of the book and leave it at that to avoid any misrepresentation conflicts?
The other thing is just like he did in 'The Adventures of Mixerman' a book I have to say that I thorougly enjoyed and laughed to no end and would give it 5 stars, he brings in certain pieces of gear which he seems to attempt to sell to the reader. A lot of us, including myself who will read this book will probably be learning the trade or are in college or just out of college. If this book is being aimed at those starting out in mixing but regardless may have a good background knowledge in the subject then absolutely buy this book if for the philosphy alone (I would truthfully recommend it for that alone), however, it would be a safe bet to say that most will not have tens of thousands of dollars or whatever at their disposal for the top of the range hardware listed therein... A lot of what we're being told in this book even about monitoring will leave many people disillusioned from the outset of this book whereby they may feel they'll have to shell out well in excess of a $1000 for a pair of speakers. That to me is not very helpful information. To be telling the reader that you will not come close to competing with the author on his mixes because we don't possess certain pieces of hardware equipment..., fair enough but give us a break. If $1500 is as he puts it "a relatively inexpensive pair of Tannoy speakers", and "You need at least one great set of monitors, and they're probably going to cost you several thousand dollars..." is anything to go by from advice on monitoring this book would then seem to be aimed at the creme de la creme of industry mixers who would have the luxury of picking their monitors from the very top of the drawer. If the book is for novices, intermediate learners all the way up to pro mixers I'm sure the pro's will already be aware of their budget limitations or lack of whereas the former is struggling at the best of times to get the best quality they can with their limited resources.
I'm sure I'll revisit the book every now and again, and it is a good book, but I don't think I'll be reading it four times over as the author suggests I do...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Zen and the art of self promotion, 18 May 2014
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It appears Zen is whatever you want it to be. I expected more insight into mixing than this.

It's got filler you can get for free using the net, a few ideas anyone musical would've sussed out themselves and, against the grain of the first 9/10 of the book, a didactic ad for his fave A/D converters.

There's also a mean spirited tone to the book that you can also find on his forum.

Recommended for beginners, quite useless for intermediate and advanced practitioners.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight, 26 Nov 2012
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into the world of the professional mixer.

He has an easy to read style and conveys his points clearly and entertainingly. Perhaps not for professionals but for anyone with aspirations to mix professionally or simply an amateur struggling to make sense of a mix or how to approach it then the book is very useful.

He manages to keep it relatively straightforward and avoids too much technical detail.

I've recommended it to other musician friends.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Use your heart, not only your ears, 28 Oct 2012
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Zen and the Art of Mixing is not your typical how-to-mix book. It focuses on the philosophy and concepts behind mixing & production, and avoids technical details most of the time. The main premise being that getting good sound for the sake of good sound is overrated - we all know the very many sites and forums online where people endlessly debate whether to use this EQ or that Compressor, in this ratio, on that Daw, and so on. In his book, Mixerman opens up for us, a world of insight, where emotional response is the king, and everything else exists to maximise it. For the first time, a book about mixing tells us this: It's not enough to have a good pair of ears, in the process of music creation, you got to be able to use your heart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Zen and The Art of Mixing by Mixerman, 18 April 2012
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If you are new to Audio Engineering, do yourself a favour and BUY THIS BOOK!!!
Brilliant analogies to make things make sense, great tips and tricks and also actual problems he came accross and solved. Great buy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars zen and the art of mixing, 30 Nov 2011
a quality little book with plenty of illuminating concepts and well explained processes. some say this book is ok for beginners, I think its a complement and delight to any musician into mixing. Showing an alternative approach, mixermans contribution is refreshing in this modern and well priced book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 25 July 2011
By 
Alex Martin "lstes dot com" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
My experience and budget is limited therefore I mix exclusively in my DAW in my bedroom. However, my main goal is to make passable demos for my band so that's not surprising. However, I was intrigued by the creative/musical rather than technical approach of the book (having read a favourable review in Tape Op Magazine) and, despite my humble means and experience, I want to at least avoid basic mixing errors and for my demos to sound as great as possible. One day, when I can no longer face carrying a valve amp up 3 flights of stairs to rehearsal, I might consider exploring mixing as a career, something I must give due credit to this book for inspiring me to do. To anyone who hasn't tried this yet - hard panning guitars works a treat. I can't believe I never tried this before!

I should point out that those seeking specifics or technical information should look elsewhere before picking this book up. However, in my opinion, that's pointless - once you have the skill set that this book attempts to foster, the gear will select itself as you'll appreciate that equipment is only useful when applied in certain ways - there are no universals in a creative medium such as music.
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3.0 out of 5 stars not great, 14 April 2011
bit of a disappointment...i was expecting a bit more. it seems to repeat the same things over an over again. more geared at the inexperienced mixers
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent source of food for thought, 20 Jan 2011
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I bought this book as I'm a semi-pro who records and mixes a dozen or so projects a year for musicians who can be thought of as serious hobbyists. So anything I can get my hands on to improve in this field without shelling out a ton of cash is of interest to me.

First off, let me say this. Zen and the Art of Mixing isn't really a Technical Reference. It's a philosophy book. And it's a good one.

This book isn't going to teach you the technical details of mixing a record. It will however help you to cultivate a mindset and approach to the craft of mixing.

What you'll notice immediately in this book is that the author isn't wishy washy at all. Mixerman has been in the business for some time. And just like a soldier who has made it back from war; Mixerman isn't afraid to tell you what you need to know to stay alive.

If you're looking for yet another tutorial on how to use parallel compression; you might want to skip this book. If however, you want to go deeper into the madness of successful mixing from a guy that has several "big time" mixes under his belt, then Zen and the Art of Mixing is a "Must Read".
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