laying gear flat vs tilted

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by audiokid, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Just curious why mastering engineers have their gear flat rather than tilted like recording engineers? I'm guessing its to do with reflections and having the gear right at their "hand, eye, ear" proximity? But how do you see?
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Our outboard equipment is in a wooden rack that is tilted at about a 15 degree angle. Most mastering engineers I know have their equipment tilted out in front of them in two or more racks on either side of their mastering desk with the monitor and keyboard in the middle. Just curious where have you seen it laid flat????
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I admit I haven't been in a professional Mastering room so it may appear more extreme to me in pictures than it is. I'll look for some pictures .
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    The first image I found


    I'm not being totally accurate with "flat" But this is still really extreme for me. I have my gear facing me direct ( on the sides of me) , slightly angled so the VU, meters, scale and knobs are exactly at my head and eye angle. I couldn't work like this image above. But I guess its what you get used to yes?

    Its always puzzled me.

    This is how I angle my gear, if I tilted it anymore than this I couldn't see the top half of the hardware without standing up and loosing my ear on the monitoring:

  5. acorneau

    acorneau Active Member

    It's all about keeping your head in the sweat spot while turning the knobs (as much as possible).

    Most stereo gear you need to turn two sets of knobs at the same time (for left and right) so you need two hands. If you have racks to your sides then you have to be quite the contortionist to keep you head in the sweet spot while using both hands off to one side.

    We've got a Sterling Modular desk similar to the Plan E (although with custom tweaks) and while it took a bit to get comfortable looking at the "underside" of the gear faces it's really great to be able to tweak most of the gear without moving your head.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Makes sense, thanks for clearing that up for me. Nice desks.
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I guess it is what you get "use" to.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I have considered a mastering studio control room where there is no console of any sort, table or anything else, directly in front of me. I would have the equipment to my left, right and possibly behind me. I would then stick my very comfortable chair wherever my sweet spot would be at its best. Why do you think anything has to be tilted, flat, angled or directly in front of you? It doesn't have to be that. Everybody does that, sees that and are like lemmings because of that. Oh, but said it wouldn't look as flashy or professional as the pictures you have displayed. Tough crap. It's called thinking outside the box and not having the box directly in front of you. You might even create a new way to accomplish mastering in a better acoustic fashion than having some large table and all of its nasty reflections screwing your sound up. After all, it's not about the look but the sound. You really don't need to see your equipment you only need to be able to access the tweaking controls while listening. You don't want to monitor anything with your eyes but with your ears. I actually don't like looking at meters. I'll look at them if something sounds wrong. They are simply volt meters and you don't need to be constantly monitoring your voltages unless something doesn't sound right. Because, after all, you are going for the sound and not the meters. Realizing the good equipment has incredible headroom to begin with, meters are almost superfluous. If the balances aren't quite right, your ears will tell you that before any meters could. I know, they are fun to watch dance in front of our eyes. So are naked girls or boys depending upon your orientation. So a large flat screen on the wall between your speakers would be good while mastering to watch alluring and provocative films which will do more for your audio than meters. Don't you think? I mean, I actually used to watch HBO while doing NBC-TV's Nightly News. And why not? I only had to move a volume control when the director said roll tape. I didn't have to stare at my console. And I wasn't particularly impressed with the face or the tie of Tom Brokaw. So I really didn't need to see that. And at least HBO had some R rated movies that I found to be more intriguing than Tom Brokaw's speech impediments. Sometimes it was quite comical. Tom Brokaw would say something like " the president said today that the economic situation was blagnorufusintied...". Then we would all look at each other in the control room and people would ask me if Tom said and I say I think you said "blagnorufusintied", which then everybody would agree with because that's what they heard also. On occasion, when he was in our studio, we would ask Tom as he just said "blagnorufusintied" to which he would reply "I probably did? But that's not what I wanted to say...", LOL.

    " I'm Tom Brokaw for NBC blagnorufusintied "
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I hear you Remy on all counts, functionality and reflection are top priority around my seating area and I know ME must think this as well so its why I ask. ME desks have always baffled me for those reasons.
    Even consoles are reflective. I don't even use solid wood racks anymore, especially around the sides. The more open all around me, with gaps, waist height or below and on wheels the better I prefer. And an open back to the back of the wall is critical so I don't put anything behind me either. The back of my wall is completely treated with foam and bass traps and above me are traps everywhere. Its not easy making it all perfect but I do try.

    A few years ago I had the opportunity to trade a company that makes very nice control desks for promotion here but I turned them down because I don't see the advantage of them in my room. It would have looked awesome but not served me well in any aspect.

    One other thing that baffles me are those comfortable control room chairs everyone likes, which I bought too, but stopped using it after a week because IMHO, high back chairs, no matter what design they are create some reflection that I could hear. My back doesn't like what I use as much but I definitely hear better without anything around the back of my head, shoulders including arm rests.

    I do use meters though, but more for confirming what my ears are hearing and for spotting peak levels on certain frequencies. They seems more accurate for surgical stuff than my ears. I always love watching meters and have been debating buying a nice setup for years. Sequoia 12 has really stepped up their metering so I don't see the need to invest there as much anymore.

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