The six levels are really just a rough guide, and each mix is then tweaked during the mix. Stavrou has mixed many other tracks, including acoustic guitar, bass, percussion, and even sound effects, using these methods, and you can see why he recommends this method over the three-track method.
There are many points covered in this book, from advice on how to use software to sound check and mix, but it is the all-important mix balancing that is the most interesting. Stavrou's approach to mix balancing is to create a set of six main levels using six variable-level tracks, the idea being that if you can set these by ear, you will be able to produce a truly professional mix. The first mixes are shown using the standard three-track method (one for each of the instruments) and then are shown using his six-track method, which involves balancing left, right, and centre. This is a bit of an over-simplification, as you can't really just have one track that is left, or one that is right, and it doesn't necessarily help to have three that are all centre.
Throughout the book, Stavrou provides detailed descriptions of his five-step mixing process, and includes examples of how it works, the first of which are what I consider the essential tools of the trade. Stavrou refers to these as 'nibs', and goes into a lot of detail about the reasons for them, and how to use them best. There are also explanations of stereo, room, and panning preferences, along with a section on EQ and the use of compressors. There is also advice on how to identify and exploit the best aspects of a song's mix, using three criteria: tonal balance, range, and instrument separation. He also provides advice on recording techniques that will help you produce a cleaner mix.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the mixing process is often a daily effort, and this is where Stavrou struggles. He spends several chapters outlining the importance of establishing and maintaining a positive relationship between the audio and visual sides of the mix, and how this will play a major role in determining the success or failure of a project. This is an aspect of recording and mixing that I would have liked to have read more about, and it's something that I don't think is really covered that much in the industry. The way I see it, to be successful you need to be good at what you do, and that is definitely not a book about that.
Overall, if you have the time and desire to learn more about mixing, and you're looking for a concise text to try to build a solid understanding of the process, I'd definitely suggest this book. It's very easy to read and has great flow, and it's a shame that Stavrou didn't dedicate this book to the topic I think it's best at covering.
As a conceptual and practical guide, Stavrou's work deserves a place among the top books on mixing. It's quirky, but not so quirky as to be out of reach for the serious mixer. I enjoyed reading it and found it very helpful. 827ec27edc