New monitors are making me re-think my mixes.

StrangerNY

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Funny how a different piece of gear can change your outlook on what your music should sound like.

I've been using a pair of Behringer Truth monitors for nearly the past 5 years and I love 'em. Plenty of power, steady response on all frequencies, sound great at either low or high volume. I just did a bunch of preliminary mixes for a planned album and I was pretty happy with what the Behringers gave me.

But they're the only monitors I had, and I'd just work between them and phones.

This week a friend gifted me a pair of Audix PH-5 Power House monitors. I figured they'd come in handy for a set of near-field monitors, so I bought a switching box and set everything up last night when I got home from a gig. I figured trying to really hear anything would be a fool's errand after playing at a pretty healthy volume for four hours, so I wired everything up and made sure it was all working and went to bed.

This morning I got up and set about testing the system out. I picked a song where I liked the overall mix and the sounds of individual instruments, which was Biffy Clyro's 'A Hunger in your Haunt.' A big recording, based on a 3 piece band with supplemental guitars and keyboards with plenty of definition. Pretty much the same instrumentation as what I'm using on my stuff.



Through both sets of speakers, the mix is massive. While the Behringers are pretty sparkly, the Audix monitors are more midrange-focused. But the perspective of the mix was very consistent on either set of speakers.

Then I opened Reaper and brought up the mix of what will be the opening track on my album and did some A-B comparison. The mix sounded pretty full on the Behringers, but through the Audix there was a lot more midrange, to the point where the entire mix sounded woofy. And the mix between the two sets of monitors seemed radically different.

So I started over from the ground up, while checking the Biffy Clyro mix to see where things sat and a general EQ of each instrument. I had already set up FX chains in Reaper for every instrument (what a great feature that is), so I went back and adjusted the FX chains to make things sound more consistent between each set of monitors. After about an hour's work at both high and low volume I got the mix to where it sounded pretty good and consistent on either set of monitors.

Now I plan on revisiting every mix and re-working them to the point where they're happening on big or small monitors. It's going to bump back finally getting the album done and out the door, but I figure it'll be worth the extra time spent.

- D
 

loudboy

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Accurate monitoring is important, but equally as much is understanding the monitors/environment you have.

I've got decent monitors, but the environment is far from optimal, so comparison with other mixes and a spectrum analyzer on the 2-buss are my go-tos to help out.
 

Peegoo

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If the only time you listen to music is through monitors, then have at it.

But remember that reality is the car, home stereo, ear buds, headphones, etc. Make three or four mixes with slightly varied EQ curves and check them out in your preferred listening setup. This will help you to zero in on what sounds best to you.

Remember too that ear fatigue is a real thing: do some critical listening for 30-45 minutes, and then take an hour (or so) break.
 

Ed Driscoll

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No great work of art is ever completed; it is merely abandoned.*

I know I have the urge to remix my stuff constantly, but I also want to move on to new projects.

*Classical allusion.
 
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StrangerNY

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If the only time you listen to music is through monitors, then have at it.

But remember that reality is the car, home stereo, ear buds, headphones, etc. Make three or four mixes with slightly varied EQ curves and check them out in your preferred listening setup. This will help you to zero in on what sounds best to you.

Remember too that ear fatigue is a real thing: do some critical listening for 30-45 minutes, and then take an hour (or so) break.

Good advice, thanks. I listen on monitors, phones, home stereo speakers, everything except for in the car, due to reasons outlined above. :)

One tip I picked up from a team of producers who did our ill-fated album was to work loud for 30 minutes or so, then back way off and work quiet for an hour. It keeps fatigue at bay so you can work longer, and I adhere to that pretty religiously.

- D
 

SPUDCASTER

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I have the Behringer 3031a's. Plus, I check mixes through Auratones and some old bookshelf stereo speakers that I have to reference by.

Whether you like Auratones or not. If you see videos of some of the top studios. More than likely you'll see a set of them.
 

telemnemonics

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Bummer

I cry out to myself "how do you like my tone young man?" all too often because my ears cant be trusted any more.
All I can really do is guess that just right is too bright.

Was thinking this morning it would be nice if hearing aid or similar tech could tailor individual EQ curves or build preset hearing aids that corrected for high frequency hearing loss.

Or hire a young man with good ears?
 

StrangerNY

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I have the Behringer 3031a's. Plus, I check mixes through Auratones and some old bookshelf stereo speakers that I have to reference by.

Whether you like Auratones or not. If you see videos of some of the top studios. More than likely you'll see a set of them.

Yeah, I've been in a few top studios, still don't like 'em. :)

- D
 

Swirling Snow

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Studio guys have a term for this... but of course I forget it right now. But they're all really concerned with "transportability". That is, they want to be able to take a mix from one studio, and have it sound good in another. It used to be easy to design speakers for these guys - all they wanted was a straight line. Then, in the '70s they wanted "time coherency". (Sorry guys, not possible with a mechanical system. You'll have to wait until you accept digital processing... which eventually happened. We all go deaf when we get older, don't we?)

Anyway. Trouble is, it's more about the rooms than the speakers. Right now you have two different speakers spraying the room with very different patterns of sound. Each speaker will reflect off different things, resulting a different soundfield which affects early reflections and uhm.... have I said "different" often enough, yet?

Since we can't all afford Westlake, nearfield monitors are all the rage. But you have to be several times closer to the speakers than you are to the walls. While Sweetwater will happily sell you open cell foam at tourist prices, you can go to the building supply store and buy pink core board from Corning that works much better. Hang it on the wall like a picture and then drape a plush beach towel over it to add some color to the room. A ski-boarding friend hangs his down jackets and pants on the walls.

Audiophools and studiophiles love to throw money at problems, but few of them will bother to download the software that would allow them to measure the things they're quibbling about. Room EQ Wizard (if you have a studio, likely your vocal mic will do)

TL;DR: Buy some headphones. You'll get 2 to 5 times the sonic accuracy compared to speakers dollar for dollar. And no worries about the decay times of the room.
 
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klasaine

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I am by no means a mix engineer. I do have decades of experience in recording studios of all budget levels and floor plan designs. Something that I've learned over those decades is 1) a little room treatment goes a long way. 2) Make available multiple listening sources that are quickly and easily accessible while you're working. Something I test all my mixes on is a smallish bluetooth speaker. I prefer the UE brand over most others because they don't overhype the low end. I also check on a pair of $30 Koss travel headphones. This is of course in addition to my decent nearfields and high quality open back cans. I also have a bunch of clothes hung up around the desk. Rugs on the floor, book cases (with books), window coverings, etc. Is it Electric Lady Land? Of course not. Does it look good? No. Does it work? Absolutely.
 

StrangerNY

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I am by no means a mix engineer. I do have decades of experience in recording studios of all budget levels and floor plan designs. Something that I've learned over those decades is 1) a little room treatment goes a long way. 2) Make available multiple listening sources that are quickly and easily accessible while you're working. Something I test all my mixes on is a smallish bluetooth speaker. I prefer the UE brand over most others because they don't overhype the low end. I also check on a pair of $30 Koss travel headphones. This is of course in addition to my decent nearfields and high quality open back cans. I also have a bunch of clothes hung up around the desk. Rugs on the floor, book cases (with books), window coverings, etc. Is it Electric Lady Land? Of course not. Does it look good? No. Does it work? Absolutely.

I'm set up in one end of my basement, and I've got floor to ceiling curtains on three walls. Where my area ends and the TV-watching part of the room starts is the back of a big black couch, and I've got area rugs on the floor. So my part of the room is pretty dead, reflection-wise.

I may try getting a bluetooth speaker, just to have another source to further confuse things. :)

TL;DR: Buy some headphones. You'll get 2 to 5 times the sonic accuracy compared to speakers dollar for dollar. And no worries about the decay times of the room.

I actually use phones quite a bit, especially when my wife has gone to bed and I don't want to rattle the walls. They really help with positioning, since I often end up with multiple guitars and maybe a keyboard or two in the mix.

- D
 

swarfrat

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I have wondered about our individual hearing damage and if that can be compensated for. Cause kids clearly can't be trusted as to what sounds good. Have you heard the stuff they listen to? (Actually a lot of em seem to be feeling abandoned and listen to our music.)
 

Swirling Snow

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I have wondered about our individual hearing damage and if that can be compensated for. Cause kids clearly can't be trusted as to what sounds good. Have you heard the stuff they listen to? (Actually a lot of em seem to be feeling abandoned and listen to our music.)
I have a theory about this. I think that our brains compensate for any damage, interpolating what's missing from experience.

I can't understand my grandkids. They mumble something terrible. Old songs I know by heart sound the same as they always did!
 




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