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Thread: Troubleshooting Mixing Environment Calibration

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    Troubleshooting Mixing Environment Calibration

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    Hi guys! My mixing environment seems to be ruining my mixes, and itís driving me crazy.

    I spend hours mixing a track through my Yamaha HS8s (with accompanying sub) in a very quiet, reasonably-shaped room with some treatment. Itís not a professional-grade set-up, but itís probably more conducive to accurate monitoring than your average home studio. (Or at least it should be in theory).

    I tinker with a mix until it sounds great in my studio. I burn a copy to test out in other listening environments, such as my car. In those other environments, though, my carefully-crafted mix sounds absolutely terrible Ė nothing like it does through my monitors. Itís a disheartening feeling.

    And this is whatís confusing: commercial mixes sound similarly good through my studio monitors Ė more clear than they do anywhere else. ButÖ they also sound excellent in my car. And excellent on my office computer. And excellent through a stereo system. The mixes I make ONLY sound great in one place: my studio. Elsewhere, theyíre muddy and lifeless.

    Clearly Iím missing something very fundamental. I find myself using my car as the ultimate reference point for making EQ adjustments, wishing that I could mix through my lousy car speakers instead of in my dedicated monitoring space. And no one should ever feel that way. I know Iím never going to produce good-sounding tracks until I can cultivate a listening/mixing experience that translates similarly across a variety of listening environments.

    Iíve been tempted to put a temporary EQ on my master bus that is configured to simulate how lifeless my mixes sound elsewhere. (The idea being that the EQ will trick me into making a mix that sounds sonically pleasing elsewhere.) Thatís how desperate I am.

    Iíve never used a spectrum analyzer, and I wonder if it might be insightful to compare the frequency ranges of my mixes with commercial tracks that sound good across all platforms.

    Do you guys have any tips for calibrating my mixing space so that my mixes will translate nicely everywhere? And might you have a theory as to whatís going wrong for me currently? Another data point: I can hear reverb nuances much better through my headphones than through my monitors, which may or may not be typical. Anyway, thanks a lot for the help!

    - Daniel

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    Please provide a diagram of your room set up and describe your "some treatment". The fact that you can't really hear your reverb on mixes except with headphones tells me you probably have a lot of reflections going on in the room. Generally, unless you are mixing hip-hop or dance music with a lot of bass AND your room is well-treated, subs are not recommended for home studio mixing - they are just not needed and require a lot of room tuning. Commercial mixes sound good because they have been mixed in a well-treated room by experts and hence translate to all systems well.
    For me, before I put a bunch of traps in my small room, I would burn a mix to CD, listen in my car, make notes on changes that were needed, remix, burn another CD, go listen, make notes... many times
    Mike B My new album on CD Baby: Fact and Fiction
    My Bandcamp site: http://mikebirchmusic.bandcamp.com

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    img_1290-jpgimg_1293-jpg

    Thanks for replying, Mike! I’ve posted a couple of photos of my room for forum members to pick apart (and likely be mortified by, haha). It’s an elongated space at least, which is a plus. A few aspects I suspect might be problematic:

    1. I don’t have any bass traps.
    2. I don’t have a panel overhead.
    3. My monitors (mostly out of necessity) are located closer to the back wall than would be ideal. The monitors do feature a setting that supposedly helps in circumstances where they are positioned close to a back wall; I have this engaged.

    Presently I’ve just lined the upper walls with giant panels of Owens Corning, roughly 1.5” thick and covered with green fabric.
    I’ve historically used a subwoofer, but I think I’ll turn it off for mixing purposes from now on. Perhaps I’ll also acquire a single speaker and mix predominantly in mono until I’m ready for the panning portion.

    It sounds like a lot of cross-platform testing and trial/error goes into cultivating a mix environment that can produce a balanced mix.

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    I gave up on a sub quite a while ago now. What made me stop using it (and to be honest my monitors do bass pretty well anyway) was when I heard what was coming through the sub. My monitor amp died, the sub carried on and it took a moment to realise that instead of the kick drum and my bass coming out of them - which was what I'd expected - it was a mess of bass horribleness. I tracked it down to my favourite synths - at that time Yamaha and Roland - those pad sounds in the main. They sound like they're working in the higher end of the spectrum, but there was low frequency energy there - in surprising amounts. Guitars were pretty clean unless heavily distorted through my processor - when some kind of extra low mush appeared. Since then, I have rolled off the bass of every source that shouldn't have bass - often with little real change in the sound, but an improvement in the remaining bass space sound sources! If you listen to commercial popular recordings, their bass content is much more defined in subs. Many of my old recordings are really horrible in the sub channel. Worth listening to your stuff and try this out.

    Your studio seems to have loads of reflective surfaces all over the place - I too wonder if this colours your choice of reverbs?

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    Those standing green-covered gobos will be ok for isolating mics when needed during tracking. For mixing, you want to get close to a symmetrical space as you can - it looks like you have an office room divider to one side behind your mixing position, that will throw things off. Bass traps in the corners should be your next goal - you don't have to do everything at once, just a piece at a time.
    Mike B My new album on CD Baby: Fact and Fiction
    My Bandcamp site: http://mikebirchmusic.bandcamp.com

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    Thanks for the encouragement! I'll build some bass traps, nix the sub, try to reduce the reflective surfaces and aim for a more symmetrical room set-up. The tall green gobo functions as my vocal booth, while the gray office divider (also made with Owens-Corning) functions mostly as an isolation aid for micing amps.

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    Now, I am not remotely qualified to comment on people's mixes! (ears are shot for just one thing) but I have two suggestions. One quite cheap, one bloody expensive!

    Cheap first. A modest Sound Level Meter. Make sure it has a C weighting setting then hunt up Massive's Missive on calibrating your monitors. N.B. That is nothing to do with frequency response no, you are just setting the absolute SPL at your ears to a standard level. The "pro" standard is about 83dBC and set that up first and mark it. You might find 83dB a bit loud (for "social" reasons) and so drop to a KNOWN 75dB or so but check things at 83 from time to time. Then, when you check mixes on other gear make sure THAT is reproducing at a similar SPL.

    The Yamaha monitors are well respected I think but maybe not THE most accurate speakers around? Might be time to check out something very much better from Neumann say? I am hoping to get a pair of Result 6s ONE day!

    Yamaha HS7 & HS8S |

    Hmm ^ "lack of mid range focus" Not sure WTF that means but IMEx anything other than a qualified "Excellent!" from an SoS review means they are being kind.
    Dave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberdaniel82 View Post
    Thanks for the encouragement! I'll build some bass traps, nix the sub, try to reduce the reflective surfaces and aim for a more symmetrical room set-up. The tall green gobo functions as my vocal booth, while the gray office divider (also made with Owens-Corning) functions mostly as an isolation aid for micing amps.
    All that space behind the mix position is one giant bass trap.
    Seems you're over compensating (muddy) from lack of bass reinforcement due to no rear reflections.
    Enclose the space a bit to create a pseudo rear wall to give some beneficial reflections.
    Just a thought.

    Gary

    Flip monitors right way up.
    screenshot_2019-02-11-streamgate-png
    Last edited by sasquatch; 02-11-2019 at 14:21.

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