How To Hear A Mix

You can only mix what you can hear, and this is why it’s important to have a decent set of monitors, in an acoustically treated space. Compensating for less-than-ideal environments is possible, but it’s always best to target the weakest links first…

The Truth About Audio

My studio
Creative Commons License photo credit: GimletEyes

There are a lot of components in an audio production/reproduction chain; converters, preamps, cables, soundcard etc… but the monitors create the waveforms you ultimately hear, and therefore it’s a good idea to have the best monitors you can afford.

However, once the waveforms leave your speaker cones, the story isn’t over; everything in your room will affect those waveforms, from the console to your chair, the walls, ceiling and floor. The waves will spread out in all directions, interact with obstacles and reflect back, creating further interference with themselves and everything else they encounter.

So, by the time the sound hits your ears, it is coloured by the environment. In a good studio, this colouration is not a problem, but in many project studios it can create severe gain or attenuation of particular frequency bands. This is why you need acoustic treatment – so your room doesn’t lie to you.

Sweet Little Lies

Like the one note bass explained in the previous post, you might create a mix that sounds great in your studio, but when you take it to another system in another room, there’s a horrible boom at 124Hz. That’s because your studio was attenuating the 124Hz band, and you made a false compensation by boosting that frequency range in the mix – when in fact the problem was not in the actual recording at all, but an artefact of the room itself.

Joe Gilder made a video introduction to acoustic treatment which details some of the practical basic steps you can take to improve the frequency response of your studio…


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