So I was watching Star Wars.
Okay before you exit, I am going somewhere with this.
If you have seen Star Wars we all remember The Death Star. If you haven’t seen Star Wars… exit the page and do that now. What the hell is wrong with you?
Anyway, so the empire spent a ton of money building this gigantic Death Star. The floating space station that was the ultimate machine and tool needed to rule the universe.
We all have a similarity to the Empire.
We’re attracted to cool toys!
I dreamed of owning an SSL console for a decade. So many great mixes were done by some of my mixing heroes like CLA, Bob Clearmountain, and the list goes on and on.
Then I got a chance to mix a few records on different SSL consoles.
I won’t lie to you… it’s awesome!
Did it make my mixes better?
Certainly not a few hundred thousand dollars better.
So I took my song that I did on the SSL console and wanted to meet with my friend to discuss the song.
The studio I ran at the time was booked for a mixing session so my friend brought over his laptop, his Mbox, and two pairs of Sennheiser headphones.
Instead of using the track that I mixed on the SSL he wanted to mix it from scratch.
I laughed at him.
So you think that you can mix this better using your stock plugins, a subpar converter like an MBox, no analog gear that was available to me on my mix, and NO reference monitors?!
His mix crushed mine.
Back to the Star Wars reference.
In the end, The Death Star was destroyed because a lone soldier (with a pretty kick ass mentor) was focused on defeating the Empire and exploited a weakness.
This entire space station could be destroyed by shooting one bullet into a vent.
Now that multimillion dollar top of the line space station is completely useless.
Because of an engineering error!
When I asked my friend why his mix killed mine when I had all of the tools that I needed at my disposal, he responded cockily, “Well I’m better than you because I’m a mixing Jedi.”
We laughed but he was 100% right.
The tools don’t make the mix, the engineer does.
He told me that I made a few very simple engineering errors that could have made the mix better. Things like high and lo pass filters were overlooked, I over compressed a few things (just because I was excited to use the compressors), and I didn’t focus as much on surgical mixing skills.
An MBox is > an SSL with the right engineer behind the session.
I was so glad that this happened. It was humbling.
I began to take responsibility for my work instead of placing blame on my tools.