Mixing starts with listening! Good listening technique can improve the way we perceive a mix. Any audio sources can be broken down into the smaller sounds it’s comprised of. When we describe these “building block sounds” we create a language for critical listening, which is a foundational exercise for anybody who mixes audio.
You can think of critical listening as two phases: Taking it apart is the practice of deconstructing the sources, picking out each instrument and voice and describing the sonic character of everything you hear. This is what we’ll be doing in this series.
Putting it together is evaluating how those pieces fit together in the mix. We judge not only how loud each source, but which frequencies stand out or hang back for each instrument and how they combine to create the overall sound. We’ll talk more about this step in future posts.
Hearing takes place in your ears, but listening takes place in your brain, which means you can improve it with practice. So I encourage you to flex your brain every time there’s music playing! Before you know it, taking a mix apart and putting it back together will feel as natural as tapping your foot!
(official Amplify foot-tapping post is planned for third quarter 2013)