advice for a better mix
How you record and export your files can make a huge difference to the mix engineer’s ability to give you the mix you are looking for.
Before you start recording:
Session / Project Parameters
TLDR : Record at 48kHz, 32 bit
When you first create a recording session/project, you are asked to select BIT DEPTH and SAMPLE RATE. Explained clearly here. Alwyn’s suggested settings for most recording setups is 32bit and 48kHz. This is a sufficiently high resolution that won’t cripple most computer recording systems. If you’ve already started it may be possible to change the settings or maybe you will have to create a new project with higher resolution and import the files you already have into the new session. If you’re at 44.1kHz and 24bit it’s not a disaster but if you’re recording at 16bit you’re noticeably compromising the depth, life and musicality of the recordings. The sooner you change the session parameters (bit depth and sample rate) the better.
TLDR : New strings and decent instruments & amps matter!
It’s pretty simple. If your instruments sound crappy (cheap, badly set up, out of tune, dull etc….) then your mix will also (unless the LO-FI sound is what you’re looking for). It’s predictable to use the following metaphor but it’s worth it due to its accuracy: You wouldn’t ask a professional chef to make a delicious meal out of rotten ingredients. If you consider loose tuning / dull sounds / old drum skins to be a part of your creative sound then that’s fair enough - but it’s a big risk to take and this can’t be fixed easily afterwards.
Mics & D.I. tracks
TLDR : Always record a clean DI track!
These days even budget microphones are capable of decent results. It’s not essential to spend a fortune. What IS important for the mix engineer is that they have control over individual sounds and instruments. Recording clean signal tracks alongside your creatively distorted/delayed tracks is a fantastic safety net. There’s no use in sending one single heavily distorted guitar track to the mix engineer and asking them to reduce the distortion. When setting up to record an instrument with an effect, such as electric guitar, it’s wise to plug the guitar into a D.I. box BEFORE the signal hits the pedal board or amp. Record that signal on a separate channel. In Alwyn’s case, he has a huge collection of fx and amps that he can use to salvage an otherwise less than perfect recording by re-amping your D.I. signals. (see his video of the process here) When Alwyn is producing & engineering, he often (for one guitar part) simultaneously records a mono D.I. track, a mono track (often submixed on the way in from multiple mics), a stereo room track and a stereo fx track. That’s a total of 6 tracks for one part. Often a bit OTT but it’s pure luxury when coming to mix the project.