Mistakes, Perfection, and the Sweet Spot
By the time it comes for your mixes to be declared "done" we often end up with a problem. One of two problems, actually. We end up either over confident about our mix, or we end up never being able to say it's "done." Let's talk about how a mastering engineer can help you with this dilemma.
My father had a funny saying.
"I don't make mistakes anymore because I've made all the mistakes 7 or 8 times already. And I still make mistakes."
It looks like a joke. There's an obvious contradiction, a juxtaposition of humility and arrogance, and a rapid-fire self defeat. But there is some real wisdom in there.
Whatever task we are attempting, we typically fall into one of two categories. We either feel a lingering self doubt about whether we are competent and succeeding, or we feel very confident that we are "nailing it" and are finally "there." Often we feel either like we haven't had enough experience to do a good job, or that we've done this for so long that we don't have much room left for improvement.
There is a great Venn Diagram reflecting these principles. Check it out:
Another joke with a lot of wisdom behind it. At some point we all sit somewhere here. Not a lot of people hang out in the middle consistently. It's a very fine line.
The artist and mixing engineer aren't immune to this relationship either. Both the red circle and the blue circle have inherent problems. In the blue circle we might be taking perfectly good elements of the mix and endlessly changing them hoping that somehow we will slip into the purple zone. More often than not, we are not improving anything but just making it different instead of better. In the red circle we may be so excited about how awesome the mix has become that we are now blind to the flaws that still exist.
Just take a look at Gareth's testimonial:
As an artist, I know what it's like to spend months labouring over a project, fretting over the minutiae, walking the tightrope with pride on one hand and nerves on the other. I know what its like to reach the end of the thing and, with feigned coolness, send the songs over to get mastered. I can say, unreservedly, that Jon eased all my nerves. Like finding a good mechanic, you want to find somebody who you can trust, and who cares about your project. Jon ticks all the boxes. he is professional, proficient, and patient. My songs were elevated to a level which I didn't realize they had yet to achieve.
Deepest gratitude to Jon, and I could not recommend his services higher.
- Gareth Inkster, Last Year