This article is going to branch out a bit from my usual tech emphasis. It's going to focus on an unsolvable dilemma, a discussion that has caused as much strife and anger than most marriage counseling sessions. In fact, if you have ever been in a post show meeting about sound levels and mix style etc, its very much the same. :-)
So, what we are diving into today is, what makes a good mix? Who decides? We have all been to shows that were good and ones that were bad. Why is that? Now some things are universal, like say power cutting out or the stage falling over or speakers catching fire.... but beyond that almost everything boils down to preference. Black Eyed Productions works with such a broad variety of artists and clients that we could be working on any given night a hardcore metal show with mosh pits and fights and riots all compounded with kick drum at 108db making your eyes roll into the back of your head!! Rock N Roll!!! Then the next morning we could have 3 Black Eyed Productions crew in 3 different main stream corporate churches mixing contemporary House of Worship mixes to standard CD quality at 93db max c weighted. Those are drastically different styles and it takes a great engineer to be able to switch up styles like that. You might be thinking, depending on what side of the fence you land, that one of those styles is "wrong" or that you "shouldn't have to mix that way" etc. But as engineers we don't decide what is correct or who is right or wrong. We are supposed to accurately reproduce what the client wants whether that be through a cd mix we have for reference or lots of talks with the artist and management so that we know what they want. Either way its not up to us, and little word of advice? Find something to love in any kind of music your mixing or working for, because you will never find 1 style that you love everything about. :-) If you're honest that is.
So who decides? Once again I leave you with no answers, just things to ponder. But on the practical side of things, if you can't decide who should decide if the mix is good or bad, remember who is signing the checks!! :-) Always seems to help clear up confusion.