Headphone band as blindfold - Listen!

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
I've been doing more recordings of bands other than my own lately. Whole bands playing together with acoustic drums and amps and microphones and all that happy crap. While I like to stay pretty hands-off as far as production goes - shooting for more of a document of the live sound rather than fancy studio tricks - the groups I've been recording do tend to look to me for advice on whether a given take was good or not, where things might be tightened up or improved, and so on. Plus, of course, it's up to me to make sure that what's coming through the mics actually represents what we're trying to achieve and will get us to a decent overall mix.

I've found that none of this really requires my eyes. I need to listen closely and intently and completely. Of course, like many of us, my basement studio is all one big room. I do all my mixing upstairs, but it would be a real bitch to try to use that area as a control room when everybody's down stairs, and frankly I dig being there in the room where everybody can communicate and just get things done. So during tracking, I'm doing my listening through closed-back headphones. They're not exactly the most flat or ideal, but I'm relatively familiar with them, they give reasonable rejection, and it works well enough.

And they have a nice wide headband, and I've found myself without really thinking about rotating them on my head so that that band covers my eyes so that I can't see anything, and am just forced to actually listen. I'm not worried about meter levels or facial expressions or anything visual at all. I'm just focused on what is actually going to the hard drive. I'm sure other people have other ways of getting into that headspace, but this has been working really well for me.
 
I do regularly follow the same idea. I mean, I don't blindfold myself but I make a point of either minimising the Protools windows or turning the screens off once in a while to listen.
I find it incredible how different things sound when your eyes aren't analysing.

Different thing, kinda, but I've found what I'm working at shows in a totally different light if someone unexpected walks in.
I could be grooving along thinking the mix sounds great then a pair of unwanted ears appear and all of a sudden i'm in overdrive tweaking knobs and faders! :eek:
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
Yup...I'm similar.

Like the others I don't bother with a blindfold but, near the end of the mixing process, I sit back in the chair, close my eyes and listen to the mix on my monitors without the distraction of waveform displays on screen and such. It's amazing how much more you hear when you eliminate those distractions.
 

andrushkiwt

New member
...near the end of the mixing process, I sit back in the chair, close my eyes and listen to the mix on my monitors without the distraction of waveform displays on screen and such. It's amazing how much more you hear when you eliminate those distractions.

I started doing this as well. I just swivel the chair around, close my eyes, and actually try to think of something else so I'm not "looking" or listening for anything in particular but just letting things pop out if they do. It's right after I say to myself, "I think I'm done", that I do that.
 

Bill L

Massivdonian
I've come to have the song playing on a loop while I'm wandering around doing things (coiling cables, cleaning up my work area, etc.). It's amazing what you can hear is off when you're not even thinking about it. I'll even sit on the couch and pet one of my dogs while listening.
 

mixsit

Well-known member
I'm in one of two open connected rooms also. Tracking I'm 10% keeping an eye on levels on the DAW, 90% huddled over the monitor mixer- riding their phones on mix-B, doing solo/combo quality checks and mix 'example/tests on the L/R bus. ('A song mix' does not a cue mix make :>)
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
Oh hell, they don't get headphones. It's at least loud enough for everybody in the room, and I usually just blast the vocals through the PA. I'm pretty conservative with levels, so there's no real need for me to watch levels or any of that. I need to be able to tell them if I heard a bad note or problem with timing or if the vocalist needs to lean into the mic for the spoken verse or whatever, and for me it's easier to focus on those things when I'm not distracted by the visuals.

I've always been one to get up and walk away from the speakers during mix time. Especially toward the end, and in mastering. My mix room is pretty much just open to the rest of the house, so I can go wash dishes or even step out on the front step to smoke with the door open and get a bit of a new perspective.
 
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