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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

The Alchemy of Mixing

I consider mixing music an alchemical process. My #1 mixing tip? Never begin a mix on headphones. Only use headphones to check detail now and then. Why? To create a piece of music you need to blend a crucible of vibrations.

You need to move air, define space, you need to create a center. I look for the place where vibrations bloom and unfold. That’s the proper place for your ears and the point where you can shape and sculpt the music.

I place my speakers in the center of space, away from walls, so they are unimpeded and vibrate fully. I think of this space not as as horizontal, but vertical, like I’m looking down at a pool of water when you toss a peel into the middle of a smooth surface.

The evolution of mixing space has reached an exciting moment. Now the bloom is in the middle of orb, the vibrations radiating out in all directions. Recently, I visited a room on 45th St called ‘Buttons,’ the invention and devotion of mixing guru Rich Macar. Rich’s room is controlled and tight, like mixing on headphones, but with space around the mixing point.

This is the future of mixing spaces, not large and expansive, but proportioned, precisely controlling the bloom of an orbital space, spatial in the proper sense. Our ears are untethered, like an acoustic astronaut, but still anchored to the gravity of a fixed center.


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