Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Remarkably helpful look into high-level professional mixing workflow, art, and attitude.
on 20 January 2011
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".
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.
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.
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)
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
Bring in the Parts!
Piano and Keyboards
Referencing Other Mixes
Makethe Mix Sing,Pop,and Gel
Refining and Enhancing
Finishing Your Mix
Printing the Mix
Saying Goodbye Is Hard to Do
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.