Yet another mixing question

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by sethinspain, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. sethinspain

    sethinspain Active Member

    Hey guys,

    Well, I have spent a GREAT deal of money and time, mostly time, building a home studio from scratch. I've spent time building my DIY acoustic panels mounted on the walls, bought the best mics for the money and am recording fairly well for the first time in my life. Oh ya, did a DIY preamp that sounds way better than any of my firewire interfaces preamps have ever sounded.

    Now I have entered the mixing realm.

    First rule I have broken, I'm doing some mixing with headphones.

    I know, not smart, but it's what I got so try to work with me.

    First thing is that I am dealing with instruments that I listen to a lot with my ear buds connected to my ipod. I know how I want my acoustic guitar to sound, and vocals, and drums, and any other instrument. I know the sound I am looking for.

    Currently Im mixing the acst. gtr. and I find that as I get it more or less to sound how I want on my ear buds, I throw on my big boy over-ear headphones to hear the bass and it sounds too muddy and sloppy. I clean it up a bit with some eq, like it, switch to my earbuds, and it sounds thin. The thing is on the album I am referencing (Lifehouse - no nmae face) the acst. gtrs sound great on any headphones, ear buds, ect. So I figure, if I get them to suond good on both, I win, but that's not the case here.

    I also find it difficult for tracking. I use my earbuds for mic placement but switching between the 2 changes a lot. It would change the way I mix the gtr.

    I've literally been at this thing for weeks trying to get the sound I want.

    Any help is greatly appreciated in advance.

  2. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    If you are using your ipod for reference, go into the music settings and disable the EQ.

    I would never suggest using headphones for mixing, but if you must get some PRO headphones, not consumer headphones.
    Sennheiser HD 380 Pro |

    For about the same price you can have some cheap monitors.
    M-Audio AV 40 |
  3. sethinspain

    sethinspain Active Member

    Now aren't I correc that monitors need to be very flat in order to be accurate? Is a pair of semi okay monitors the same as good headphones?

  4. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Most mixes made with headphones, end up with a muddy low end.

    Read this for a better explanation, in fact read the whole guide for a guideline. All About Home and Project Studio Monitors
  5. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    There is no such thing as a perfect monitoring system. What you need to do is find a set of speakers that you like and get used to how they sound. Use them to listen to songs by other artists and get a feel for where the bass and other instruments sit - especially the kick drum, cymbals, vocals, etc.

    Once you "know your monitors" you then have a reference point for creating your mix. I always think of the word "competitive" when it comes to mixing, asin "how is my mix going to sound when you put it in a pile with a bunch of other recordings? This is where you get into real mixing, and even beyond that to mastering.

    In truth - the "formula" most good engineers have for finding the most competitve mix a pretty closely guarded secret by many. It isn't easy. For your situation I would certainly not start with battling headphones to get a mix to sound good on a speaker system - basically, no one does that.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    If it was easy to mix on headphones, studios wouldn't need speakers. Monitor speakers don't have to be accurate. You just have to learn what they sound like to utilize as a reference. I still utilize control room speakers that were introduced in 1968. State of the art is just a bunch of marketing hype. They have to stay in business so they have to tell you that this year's model is better than last year's model. I don't like to mix on headphones but sometimes I've had to. In order to do that, you have to reference your headphones against your monitor speakers. I've frequently found when you hear the right amount of bass energy in your headphones, it's too much. When you start to fixate on minor annoyances, you have a fixation of fixations. And most of the time it will go unnoticed on monitor speakers. Headphones work well to determine certain Stereophonics spatial balances. Earbuds are like suppositories. They only work for a little while.

    Headphones are like sanitary pads and should be disposed of properly.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    What was the point of taking time making DIY acoustic panels and treating your room if you mix with headphones or earbuds?? The whole reason to treat a room is to allow a pair of "flat" monitors to reproduce that true "flat" response in your treated and tuned room!
    It doesn't make much sense using headphones, which if you don't know are a single speaker isolated to one ear, rather than both your ears hearing both sides simultaneously. That's a completely different thing. You can't get proper spatial results with headphones. They block off the other ear. Also headphones and earbuds...even really good expensive ones can't achieve the kind of frequency response curve you'll find from even a moderately priced decent set of near-field monitors.
    Take the time and get some real decent monitors in front of you, do a sweep test and tune your acoustic panels to flatten things out in your room. Get your head in the sweet spot and then mix your song.
    You'll hear everything you need to more accurately and with better spatial separation and EQ control.
    After you do that, then listen to your mix on your headphones or earbuds!....and that is what everybody else will hear..
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    djmukilteo I love what you said. Though I think I've trained my brain to be ambidextrous or rather ambiphonic because in a network television control room, it goes beyond simple multitasking. I have to listen to a director, an associate director, a producer, my technical director, my A 2's, stage managers, incoming remotes, what I'm doing on the air, all simultaneously. So my take on listening through headphones is being processed by both ears in both half sides of my brain. It is something one can train themselves to do.

    The relevancy about tuning your control room is also spot on. But even then, in certain on location work, utilizing near field monitors allows one to eliminate some of the necessary control room acoustic tuning. That's why folks work on near field monitors more so today then how our former soffit mounted far-mid field monitors in years past. Of course improving your control room acoustics is always a good thing to do. But again, there is theory versus practice.

    As djmukilteo indicated, once you get a pair of affordable, reasonably decent near field monitors, then you must sit down with some expertly fabulous CDs of classic and modern day hits. Those are your references to reference your own work against. I always start my mixing sessions utilizing a consistent handful source of CDs to establish my reference even in my quite consistent control room. It's sort of like stretching exercises that you begin with before a vigorous workout. It's like running some scales on your instrument to warm up with before beginning a performance. Even racecar drivers take a couple of laps to warm up their tires before beginning the race. These are all extremely necessary prerequisites for any professional. Not sure if your doctor would dissect a frog before performing brain surgery upon you though? Maybe a doctor just cuts a couple of farts, before they drill a hole into your cranium? Either way, it's a warm-up and a reference to make sure the doctor is well-prepared before jumping into your grey matter. I should know this since I had brain surgery almost 7 years ago. Though I never did ask the doctor how he warmed up. I thought that a bit personal. LOL or should I say laughing my brains out?

    Missing gray matter
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Having a half dollar sized chunk of my skull removed from a skull fracture accident and being left handed as well yes both sides of the brain is a real plus for multitasking....Hehe!
    My ear/brain connections still work pretty good on both sides. Sometimes I get a slight drift from right to left and sometimes I lose a little low end out the smaller opening that never grew back in. It also picks up signals on that side of my head if I sleep on my right side. There's still a divot in that spot so the skin creates a nice parabolic shape!
    I still like having near-fields properly spaced with a close sweet spot. JBL Control 5's and KRK's.
    And I love my ATH-M50 headphones too. Having more ways to listen is great!
    And my reference would be CD's as well. Two that I think are really great lately for me are Spandau Ballet's True and Simply Red's Holding Back the Years. Those are very nicely done songs. I read True was recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas. I still like some Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler stuff. Lots of good reference material out there!
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    So if we got our heads together we'd have one. LMAO great damaged I forget the rest.

    If I had half a mind I'd be a recording engineer. Wait a minute! I am a recording engineer.

    More tambourine!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  11. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I hear crickets in the mix...oh wait...nevermind!
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You've obviously heard one of my cuts. This band that I recorded back in 1993 was on a farm up in Aberdeen Maryland. The lead singer was a short order cook and had to leave before the tracking session was over. Eight hours later, he returned. He didn't sound good in the garage. So I took the microphone outside onto the gravel. No headphone was utilized. Instead a FOSTEX 6301B. And even after eight hours as a short order cook, as the midnight ground fog rolled in, that crickets were chirping frogs were croaking and he nailed each one of these songs in just one to two takes. A couple of the songs fade up and begin with a chorus of crickets. We did a couple of mixes without the crickets but everybody loved the crickets. And that's organic recording at its best. Though we didn't try dipping the crickets in chocolate and eating them. It just didn't seem like the proper thing to do to such a lovely chorus. Now I'm cuckoo for cricket nuts. Screw that puffed up cereal when you can have the real thing.

    Crunch crunch crunch mmmmmmmm
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  13. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    That's is the best! Organic sound is a big thing with me these days!
    I have this roof/gutter thing that when it rains a little bit and there is water rolling down the roof dripping into the gutters, I get this rhythmic water drop serenade that resonates from the gutter...perfect has these double droplet changes in it that are very interesting.
    I'll have to set up some mics and see if I can capture it next time it rains....which could be anytime soon around here...
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    At least you're not burning down like the rest of the West or burning up like we are here in the East. It's just too damn cloudy where you are for a moody person like myself.

    Rubber baby buggy bumpers are melting here.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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