The Blissfully Idiotic Animated Mixing Mindset

Monaural mixes may be old school and one dimensional, but they meet expectations, and they sure ain’t wimpy. They’ve got all the sonic elements rocking heavily on a single spectral plane, smacking air particles with punch, vibe, and vigor. Sadly, many of today’s stereo mixes are blatant underachievers. They enjoy the benefit of added sonic dimension, and yet they plop into mundane “enhanced mono” soundscapes like a big lazy dumb old hippopotamus. Everything is pretty much a mirror image from the right channel to the left channel. Balanced. Safe. Boring.
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Instead of practicing such feeble audio restraint, why not zip back to the days when stereo was a bold new frontier, and treat your listeners to surprising mixes where elements are constantly in motion across the stereo field? Twist the pan control to and fro when appropriate. Put a dry sound in one channel, and its signal processing (reverb, chorus, delay, etc.) in the opposite channel. Avoid the tyranny of the middle—move bass tracks, kick drums, vocals, and other elements that are traditionally mixed in the center of the spectrum slightly to the left or right. Put clean guitars in the left channel, and distorted guitars in the right, and then swap positions at each chorus or verse. Embrace the “Question Everything” ethos of the psychedelic era and overthrow the squeaky- clean mix strategies of professional hitmakers. Don’t settle for well-balanced, scrupulous audio over messy and idiosyncratic mixes, because it’s the messes that often command attention. (To prove this, simply put Courtney Love and Hilary Duff in a room and see which diva puts a stranglehold on your eyes and ears.) Be fearless. Be silly. And, above all, be interesting.

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