How I mix
The possibilities of digital with the depth of analog
TLDR : I only quote once I have a copy of the stems
Any mix engineer who quotes before seeing the stems (or worse, before even hearing a rough mix) is not providing a custom service but offering a “conveyor belt” service which is unlikely to result in the best mix for your material.
If you’re sending the files off to be mixed you’ll need to prepare the Pro Tools session or export the stems anyway.
Loading a copy of the stems into my system will enable me to establish how much work will be required to get the mix to a standard that I’m happy with.
NOTE ON MASTERING:
I HIGHLY recommend my own brother’s MSB mastering. As you might expect, Darrell and I work very closely together and this collaborative approach hugely benefits the client.
If my clients already have another mastering engineer in mind I’m happy to discuss this. I may express an opinion on the choice of mastering engineer based on some of their work but ultimately the client has final say.
If I’m asked to include the mastering in my own quote I will do so but I’ll most likely send the files to MSB mastering anyway as I truly value Darrell’s work and input.
TLDR : appropriate editing & tuning are included
My aim is not to make MY work sound good but to make us ALL sound good. If I hear the need for editing or tuning, that’s included and it’s normal. I have a healthy approach to both these practices and (depending on style) know when it has gone too far.
TLDR : Pro Tools + Analog outboard gear
I love Pro Tools because of the control it gives me but when it comes to effects like compressors and EQs I can STILL hear a depth in analog outboard that even the best plugins can’t capture. There’s another advantage too: Just like a pianist preferring a grand piano to a keyboard, it’s simply more inspiring to use real equipment.
I mix from Pro Tools HD out onto my analog desk using my outboard. This is a technique and workflow that I perfected in my old studio Westland Studios, Dublin.
TLDR : I might make suggestions but it’s your call
While working on a mix I occasionally notice that something is missing. It may be rhythmical, may be spatial, may be musical. If it’s a major part I will suggest you make a change and re-send the stems. If I hear it in my head and it’s a minor part (such as percussion, a pad etc…) I will often add it as a suggestion. I do not do this motivated by ego or in an attempt to take over and claim your music as my own.
Occasionally I’ll even add some background strings, but I will always provide two versions of the mix - one with my suggestion(s), one without. It is TOTALLY your call. I won’t be offended or lose sleep if you don’t want to keep it in. I also do not ask for royalties on these parts, though a mention in the credits alongside other all the other musicians is always appreciated.
I’m proud to say that on average my clients ask me to keep my suggestions in the final mix.
Mix Buss Processing
Having been spoilt with my older brother Darrell Walker as my mastering engineer (and safety net) for the last 15 years, I tend to leave the mastering engineer to do what they feel is right on the mix buss. I have on occasion “mixed into” hardware compressors but although I understand why some engineers like to work this way, I personally find it distracting and on occasion a little misleading.
(more on mastering on the STEPS page.)