When to incorporate a mixer when writing your track

So I’m currently working on a track where a lot of its characteristics come from the actual final output, which is the SSL SiX in this case. The way the EQ and drum compressor handle the input (a 1010 Blackbox), and the g bus compressor at work with the total sound (synths and stuff through the other SiX inputs).

Now here’s my dilemma, knowing next to nothing about mixing, summing and mastering, going by ear and gut all the time -

So I can get something to sound good within the 1010 Blackbox, together with the synths through the 1010 input. Balanced, frequencies where they should be, all that jazz. Not great, but as good as it can get, in that limited context.

Then, I run it through the SiX. Obviously, it sounds even better then. However, because of the way the SiX handles what you run through it, there’s stuff I wouldn’t do within the Blackbox to make it sound good there, knowing full well that if I pull back on certain parts and push others forward, they’ll sound better through the SiX, but not so great in the Blackbox. Essentially, on purpose creating a Blackbox mix that’s not perfect, because I know it will be even cooler through the SiX because of the way the SiX handles what goes into it.

Some tell me, I should always make stuff sound as good as they can within each stage. Following that philosophy, I should stick to getting the track to sound great in the Blackbox before I move it to the SiX.

Others tell me, this is an organic process. Work with the instruments and the mixer together, do it coherently and not isolated, if you’re looking for that sound. Eventually, someone always says “Like Daniel Lanois”. I love all his records, except the one he made with Venetian Snares.

So what approach do you guys use? Is there a right or wrong here? I know I’ve raised this point in the SiX thread, but I feel it deserves its own topic, which is why I bring it up here.

My stuff is pretty much always hooked up to a mixer, not sure why I would do it different other than a portable device on the road or something. But yeah just do what you like I suppose.

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I’ll start by saying I’m bloody sure I have bugger all experience compared to you and most on here, but……

I’ve been going into the six and then out to either OT or DAW. How about going that way? Run it all through the six into BB, mix and then you could send back out to Six for final mastering?

Maybe I’m missing something, or going about this the wrong way, but I really like hearing anything I’m recording to sound as good as possible before I start any mixing.

I’m away at the moment but have a OT and DT with me and two fx pedals plus laptop. I’m amazed at how much everything is missing something without both my Six and Heat. A lots been deleted as it’s just not got the balls and space I’m wanting.

Anyway, as I said, I know nothing….


…it IS an organic process…

and if the glue of that ssl mini mixer gives the essential ingredience to ur final mix, than THAT’s the way…

but…i doubt a little, that u have to go for not so good choices within the blackbox first to achieve the final better sonic goal…really?
like what could that be the case…
if it sounds pretty good already straight out of ur digital little hardware workstation and ssl does it’s final touch, why should end this all up in any even better way if the blackbox only does not gives it’s possible best…?

or is it like…without the glue, u have to embed single elements of the mix more gently to make it work, but the ssl glue would make exacltly those not that even leveld elements the xtra shine in final overall mix…?

what so ever…u gotto go, within this set up options for a full mix at once either way…
so go for what’s the best final mix…which is of course ur mixer summing end…


I asked a similar question on here regarding mixing into Heat (rather than the SSL SiX), but the consensus seems to be whatever you prefer:

Anyway, maybe the thread will give you more food for thought and more opinions to balance :slight_smile:


Some things are wrong.
Some are so wrong it’s right.

This isn’t one of those things:

( signal chain / order of operations is part of it, and sometimes you have to isolate a thing to take it to the next stage so it will do the thing you want it to do next )

I say it’s fair game if it gets you what you want.


Looking at your setup, I would probably record everything through the Six into the Blackbox. Then back out through the Six for final mixing. But as always, do what works best for your workflow.


Good question. Case in point -
Blackbox filter is really more like a one knob eq, and a pretty good one at that. However, if I get the right amount of sheen within the Blackbox, the SiX just brings that out in a way that makes it sound too harsh when I eq through the SiX. Dial the Blackbox filter back, pump the SiX eq and the overall high frequencies just sound better.

And compression - I can get a sweet, compressed and quite subtle sound from the Blackbox, if I slam the output enough to get the compressor going. It really has a very delicate but efficient way to handle compression. However, compression on compression doesn’t work in this case, so turning off the Blackbox compressor is the way to go here. But that makes the internal mix sound not so great within the Blackbox.

And of course, using my CXM 1978 on the inserts for reverb, make the Blackbox reverb pointless. But the Blackbox reverb sounds pretty good on its own, so the mix can be a bit dull without it.

So those are three examples and I think I just answered my own question there. This is the way to go for me, working with the SiX as part of the overall process, not wait with it until the track is good and ready for the next phase.

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I don’t get it (though it sounds intriguing :slight_smile: ). Work backwards from what you tried to achieve? Not what you actually achieved?

In my work as a writer, I always work in a circular fashion. Finish a draft. Get a vibe for what’s actually working. Cut out what’s not. Hone what’s left. Build on that. Rewrite and repeat, until you got a finished story. One could call it moving backwards from the finished version to the starting point again, but knowing the way forward with more clarity this time.

While sometimes very painful, it does get me the results I want, in time.


Which is why writers always have editors. And editors work for publishers. But they all circle back to the writer before the final draft is done, though.

Get the book “Mixing secrets for the small studio”. Easy to read book that gives alot of tips, and also goes into this topic.

But you could test this for yourself. Does the end result get better if you spend alot of time getting everything “as good as it can” from the blackbox before going in to the mixer? I tested something similar. I tried mixing as good as i could in Cubase, and leaving the faders on my mixer at 0. It took alot of time, and I got better result when i just used my mixer.

But sometimes i go back to cubase to add stuff i cant do with my mixer. Like compression, or fancy dynamic eq or something like that. But i only do that if i need to fix a problem. If regular eq and mixing dont sound good, i go back to the “problems”.

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