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room tuning, mix translation, and ^#$%ing low mids

Discussion in 'Recording' started by osmuir, Dec 11, 2001.

  1. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    so i'm mixing this record. but i'm mixing in a concrete basement, which is big, high cealings [uneven wood, 9 ft], and my mix area is about 15ft cube, with the back "wall" of the cube actualy going out 25 ft at least, irregularly [bookshelves, different depths, stairs, etc].

    i have thick ass packing blankets hung all around mix position, away from the walls [or mid air in the back wall case] about 6 inches, with efforts taken to make them fold-ey [as per f. dalton everest].

    SO...

    i have a little denser $*^t in boxes in 2 corners in an attempt to kill low mids...

    however when begining my mix proscess today, it became painfuly apparent that this room is ROYALY ^#$%ed up.

    the stereo image is wacked out when you move slightly, [even semi flanging in some places], and there is all sorts of weird build up between 210 and 480 hz, with various 300s, 400, and 250hz being especialy violent offenders.

    now, i know i gots to listen to this $*^t on alot of different systems, and i'm getting close to better results, but not great.

    so: what the ^#$% do i do?

    i'm doing alot of it in mono for now, on both mackie hr824's and crappy labtec computer speakers.

    i have a pair of NS-10s with a samson power amp. should i sub these for the mackies? perhaps mix on them and test on the mackies in a different room?

    i just REALLY like having something accurate to listen to, and ns-10s aren't, per say.

    i spent 6+ hours on a 4 minute, TWO TRACK song, and but for some effects, it's ^#$%ing mono. vocals and guitar, and it's keeping me up at night.

    so: save me here.

    bedroom/garage warriors: how do you deal with killing this LF $*^t w/o major construction? what is the best way to set up a control room to be somewhat impervious to room issues? do i have to go get some crazy bass traps?

    speakers?

    tricks?

    should i consider eqing the sound to the moniters?

    seriously, i'm begging here :)

    the rest of the record [recording wise] is kicking ass [at least the parts i did] and i need to make this work, the guy has had really bum luck w/the old guy who did the other work on this record.

    i'll post some $*^t if yr nice and help :)

    --owen
     
  2. Masternfool

    Masternfool Active Member

    The only thing I can suggest is try to move your stuff to a bedroom or a room with some soft furniture,just for mixing purposes. You could try some decent headphones to get you in the ballpark. Get your lows as close as possible by A/B ing with other material,Then turn it way down to keep the room from interacting...just some suggestions...Best Harry
     
  3. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    Hi Owen,

    My opinion is that if the results matter to you enough that you are worried about acoustics while mixing, then it sounds like you need to get out and go to a proper studio with good acoustics and monitoring.

    Booking a good room is more productive and less expensive than spending $100-$200 per square foot rebuilding your current space plus $20-50k building a monitoring system and tweaking it for the room, then turning it the whole entreprise into a commercial studio to pay for it all.

    Of course, you can just wing it like you are now doing and get used to the particular sound of your room so that after a while it starts to translate well elsewhere, but the results -- and your productivity -- will be compromised to a large degree. I guess it depends on how much you feel the project and your time are worth, and how much time and money you want to invest in building your own room.

    Jon
     
  4. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    well, economicaly, it's kind of an impossibility to do it in a real room [i'm doing it on a tight budget now, as his last guy really screwed him].

    i actualy was considering taking it up to a small studio i know, but alas!

    any advice at all as per getting the room tightened? could throwing as much dense fluffy crap [foutons, cushions, etc] help?

    i did just check the mix i did last night again, and i think i'm 98% there on the sound. i guess i'm not a total moron.

    what about my NS-10 question? to switch or no?

    and i guess it's all about monitering low.

    thanks, keep em coming.
     
  5. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    Owen,

    If you are used to your room's acoustics enough that your mixes are 98% there when you check them elsewhere, that's pretty good, and the middle of a project mix might not be the right moment to change the acoustics.

    Either way, keep checking your work elsewhere on speakers you know...the car, the home stereo, the boombox, etc. Getting it to translate in the real world is the name of the game.

    Jon
     
  6. bassmac

    bassmac Guest

    My room isn't that great either. I just have some dead material behind me to eliminate the reflections, and then set-up the smallest triangle I can between my face and the monitors, about three feet - and don't turn it up too loud. Try and stay under 80db most of the time, and get real low to check the levels of everything. The idea here is to take the room *out* of what you're hearing as much as possible. I also do a lot of A/Bing with a reference track to keep me in check.

    :)
     
  7. lwilliam

    lwilliam Active Member

    Man, your room sounds like the trouble I was having: Mud in the low-mids on a LOT of mixes. I ended up posting something on David Frangioni's forum (see my post in Dec EQ mag under "Monitors in Corners"), but only got one specific solution: move the monitors out of the corners and walls.

    Here are all the things I recently did (like a couple of month's ago) to get a grip on this problem:

    1. Make sure your monitors are AWAY from the wall by at LEAST 10 inches and not in the corners. I had to give up some valuable space to move my desk, computer monitor/keyboard and mixer back about a foot from where they used to be.

    2. I bought four LENRD bass traps. I already had 4" Auralex behind the monitors for reflections and some carpet remnants on the wall behind me (when mixing). I put two of the LENRDS (they're only like $25 each) in the corners just below the monitors (the 4" foam was right behind the monitors) and the other two on the floor between the floor and front wall. These soak up a LOT of low-mids.

    3. I put sand in my monitor stands and put some rubber acoustic sheeting between the monitors and the stands. This also tightened up the bass so I could hear it better. I understand that if you use four small, hard "buttons" to isolate the monitors from the stands instead of the rubber sheeting, that you'll get even more low-mid absorption along with a tighter bass and slightly brighter sound.

    4. I use no less than four different types and quality of headphone monitors as well as two sets of nearfields. My AKG 240Ms seem to demonstrate the low-mid mud to me better than any of the others. When I can get THEM sounding nice and clear, it usually means I've gotten enough low-mid out of the mix.

    5. I've been getting rid of a lot of 200-450hz stuff out of both the bass guitar as well as the kick drum. This has really helped tremendously. I'm talking as much as 7-8db cut on the kick, for instance.

    Number five obviously would make the biggest difference in the final result, but it took most of the other 4 items in order for me to spot how and when (and how much) to do #5.

    Interestingly enough, I can now easily spot when the table my board sits on has a resonance frequency with the bass guitar.

    I try also to mix at a lower level so as NOT to excite the room nodes. I usually find myself mixing at 70-75db. I also turn the mix down VERY VERY low at times to catch elements that are sticking out - although its much harder to hear bass at very low volumes.

    I also check the volume of the bass at relatively high levels (90db) because if the mix isn't clear at that volume, you've still got work to do.

    When the bass is clear and defined, it seems a LOT easier to spot the muck right above it in the frequency spectrum.

    Of course, I also do a LOT of a/b'ing with commercial mixes with special attention on the low mids now.

    YMMV...
     
  8. drundall

    drundall Guest

    This may get a negative reaction from some people but when I'm at a room that I know is jacked up I check the mix on a pair of headphones that I know really well. Sometimes you can clean stuff up with headphones and it'll translate better outside.

    PS don't ignore the ceiling above the desk. You may be getting some "bounce off the top".
     
  9. GT40sc

    GT40sc Active Member

    Has anyone ever tried the "1/3 Rule?"

    The idea is to set up your monitors in the room so that the "room modes" will be excited as little as possible. But it does "waste" some space at the front and sides of the room.

    This works best in a rectangular room, with the console facing the short wall. (In my experience, if you do it the other way, with the long wall behind you, there will be a buildup of low-mids)

    Anyway, for the sake of easy math, let's say the room is 21 feet deep and 18 feet wide. Working on the depth first, measure 7 ft from the front of the room, and set up your monitors here. Put them 6 feet apart, and you will have about 6 feet of empty space on each side. See where this is going? (I know the speaker cabinets take up some space in the real world, but we won't worry about that for now.)

    Anyway, you will end up with the console in the "middle third" of the room, and you can do some fine-tuning with bass traps/diffusion in the back. Leave the "front third" as empty as possible, except for the monitor stands, and maybe some sonex on the front wall. But do some listening before you put it up...because the room is now "clean" (less excitement of modes) there will be less of a need for acoustic treatment.

    I have had good success with this formula in modifying various project studio control rooms...(read, "basement bedrooms," etc) Try it and see how it works for you...

    SC
     
  10. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Originally posted by drundall:
    PS don't ignore the ceiling above the desk. You may be getting some "bounce off the top".

    Good point... Even the top of the desk itself can induce nodes via direct reflection!
     
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    ...best ting I can think of echoes the previous posts of confining your mixing to a low db and not getting things all excited around you....or pony up for some time in a good tuned-up room :cool:
     
  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    ....also....i know i might start a fire here but...dont ns-10's kinda ...ughhh..suck for flat.. :eek:
     
  13. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Don't know if this is something that works into your budget, but here's what I did. I hired an acoustician to come in and look at/measure my control room. The he drew up some beautifully detailed blueprints, with detailed non-technical explanations attached, showing me a step by step plan for a do-it-myself room fix. It involves slanting the ceiling and angling the side walls around the mix position, among other things, with full details about materials and where to get them. All this for $600! Now, I haven't started yet, and of course, materials cost will add to the final price, but when you think about how much more than that you've spent on one mic, or compressor, or preamp - and then think about how much more important your acoustics are to the end product than anything you could ever buy - well, the defense rests.

    by the way, my consultant is Michael F.Blackmer - not just a great acoustician, but a great guy.
     
  14. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Originally posted by lwilliam:

    When the bass is clear and defined, it seems a LOT easier to spot the muck right above it in the frequency spectrum.




    I like that term! "spectrum" And what are your monitors of choice please?
    --Rick
     
  15. lwilliam

    lwilliam Active Member

    Right now, my monitors are Tannoy System 8 II's. I'm using a Carver PM175 (175/ch @8 ohms) with them. Not great, but not bad...

    ...oh, and some Auratone 5Cs that I've had forever.
     
  16. chipkarpells

    chipkarpells Guest

    yo owen. i agree with masterinfool, if your room sounds like crap, and your sure of it, and don't really have a budget,why not get rid of the room and try mixing on a decent pair of headphones? (as an example, sony 7506's are considered to sound good without being to hyped by many, and can be had for $100 or under...); if all the frequency problems your having are a result of collisions and standing waves,etc.(what it sounds like)...this may not be the best way to skin the cat, but... it sounds like it may get your mixes closer to being right for the short term. -As for the NS-10's(when you get your room together, that is...), dump that bitch ass sampson amp. (prepare for a tirade, this has bugged me for a while...)everybody thinks NS-10's are/still are the industry standard... and they're right, HALF Right! the recipe for success with NS-10's is that you need a Bryston 4B to power them OR Else there is nothing industry standard about it. if you don't believe me call up every big/A-teir studio in NYC to LA and ask them what they power them with... and make sure you fuse them because in the not very distant future it will be impossable to replace the drivers. hurry up and return or sell you hr824's too as then you'll be able to start saving for the genelec 1031a's that you really wanted...
    happy monitoring.good luck.
     
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    ....A-HA....I knew there was something about ALL the ns-10's i've heard....having never heard a pair with the afor-mentioned power, i knew there was something missing....what you hear on your big A studio produced recordings and those lower level studios with ns-10's and the wrong power amp....I did hear the new jbl digitals...the small ones....very nice :p
     
  18. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Originally posted by ck1000:
    yo owen. i agree with masterinfool, if your room sounds like crap, and your sure of it, and don't really have a budget,why not get rid of the room and try mixing on a decent pair of headphones? (as an example, sony 7506's are considered to sound good without being to hyped by many, and can be had for $100 or under...); if all the frequency problems your having are a result of collisions and standing waves,etc.(what it sounds like)...this may not be the best way to skin the cat, but... it sounds like it may get your mixes closer to being right for the short term. -As for the NS-10's(when you get your room together, that is...), dump that bitch ass sampson amp. (prepare for a tirade, this has bugged me for a while...)everybody thinks NS-10's are/still are the industry standard... and they're right, HALF Right! the recipe for success with NS-10's is that you need a Bryston 4B to power them OR Else there is nothing industry standard about it. if you don't believe me call up every big/A-teir studio in NYC to LA and ask them what they power them with... and make sure you fuse them because in the not very distant future it will be impossable to replace the drivers. hurry up and return or sell you hr824's too as then you'll be able to start saving for the genelec 1031a's that you really wanted...
    happy monitoring.good luck.


    Sorry ck, but gotta take issue with your advice.

    First of all, the Sony 7506 is a great tracking headphone because it is a closed design (minimizes bleed) and is very hyped in the upper mids - so horn players, vocalists, etc. hear themselves easily over the surrounding din. Those very qualities make it a terrible mixing phone. Contrast them with the Sennheiser HD580 - open design, very flat, great detail - only about $180 - you won't even think you're listening to the same mix!

    Secondly, the NS-10m's are going to sound "like $*^t" to anyone who isn't use to working with them. A better power amp helps, but the whole point of NS-10m's is that because they were in every studio, they were a common denominator. After a while, everyone knew their flaws and how to compensate. Some engineers got to the point where they couldn't mix on anything else. But for someone just starting out, I'd say go with almost anything else - in the low end price range maybe the active Events - then you can get rid of the Samson.
     
  19. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    actualy, i'm definately started to kick some more ass w/my ns-10's. i use headphones/crappy labtecs/sony 7506's for the mixin' back and forth, and then check on EVERYTHING. i'm having a little problem on certain speakers, but i'm compensating pretty well.

    and i figgure genelecs aren't worth it till i have a decent room[!] to mix in. i've been doing location.

    i was told to get a hafler amp for the ns-10's, good idea?

    --owen
     
  20. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    I would probably worry more about just getting a big ass amp for headroom. Fletcher expressed a preference for Yamaha amps with NS10's, but I don't know what models. I have a big, heavy, Yamaha P2100 that seems to do a pretty good job with them (when they must come in here- I really hate those little fuckers.), and you could get one used for probably $150. No fan, and really nice big VU meters.


    Originally posted by owen muir:

    i was told to get a hafler amp for the ns-10's, good idea?

    --owen
     

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