Mixing Meter

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The trouble with analysers is that they tell you how much there is at every frequency, but not how nice that content is. Ears can be trained and when they are, they are infinitely better than the visual display. As part of what I do I have lots of radio test gear - exactly the same thing exists there - spectrum analysers that look at radio frequencies. I can see exactly what is happening but exactly like audio, while seeing it helps me work out what is happening - it won't tell me how far it will travel or sound like the other end. A bit like how you can tune your guitar with a tuner more accurately than anyone's ear, yet the damn thing sounds out of tune on some chords at certain positions.
 

JamEZmusic

Active member
absolutely, the analyzer is useless in that regard.

So the analyzer might suggest to me to try for some extra 300hz on a vocal or lead guitar, because I see a nice dip there in the rhythm section and it sounds pretty good and my vocal or lead guitar might be a little thin sounding so I boost it on the lead, and find it sounds like crap (congested/wooly). so then I think of other ways to bring in some good 300hz, like... parallel saturation targeted at 300, or heavy multiband saturation on the channel itself mixed in 30% wet or so, or just boost it with EQ and compress that range.. At this point, it's ALL ear.

I come to the conclusion that my lead guitar is too dark, and I see not much activity in the high end on the analyzer poking through the mix but boosting high end on an eq makes the track sound disgustingly bright, so I'll parallel compress the track heavily at 1k+ and saturate it and bring the controlled high end in under it instead etc.etc.etc.

To just boost and fill in all the valleys and dips blindly following an analyzer is pretty far from what I am trying to say. It's just a visual aid for me. I get that you think it's useless and for you. it might be. Some music just isn't supposed to be carved to pieces to fit everything in like a jigsaw puzzle for that kind of sound, and better to just keep everything as natural as possible and use faders only with high passing and high shelving. With not even much compression if any... if i was mixing music like that, then a spectrum analyzer would hardly ever get touched. I don't care about cramming everything into a tight space.

I've composed 4part harmony in proper form looped over 8 repeated bars at a slow tempo and on each repeat copied midi data over into new tracks keeping the same notes but adding in layers of hyms, extra cello, etc.etc.etc. until there are like 50 different layers going at once, and the mix almost just consists of my putting my faders in a place of equal volume and just leaving it right there sounds awesome. It's a completely different ball game. Looking at an analyzer would be completely pointless.

Maybe I do rely on it too much, I don't know. As I slowly start to master this dark art I will know then for sure.
 

Snowman999

Active member
The trouble with analysers is that they tell you how much there is at every frequency, but not how nice that content is. Ears can be trained and when they are, they are infinitely better than the visual display. As part of what I do I have lots of radio test gear - exactly the same thing exists there - spectrum analysers that look at radio frequencies. I can see exactly what is happening but exactly like audio, while seeing it helps me work out what is happening - it won't tell me how far it will travel or sound like the other end. A bit like how you can tune your guitar with a tuner more accurately than anyone's ear, yet the damn thing sounds out of tune on some chords at certain positions.
In my case, it isn't that I'd use the analyzer and not my ears, it's just an extra measure to have. In my case, I need all the help I can get. When I mixed my last work, I watched videos on them, and still had no idea of how it would help. But, now that I have the opportunity to actually use it, I'll see if it helps.

Of course I bought the computer and it's sitting next to me unused. I'll probably be dead before I decide to set it up.
 
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