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Mixing outside?

Member for

15 years 8 months
Hi all, I am new to this fantastic forum. What happens if you mix a music outside in the open (no walls & no ceiling)? Would you get a good mix?


Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Tue, 09/26/2006 - 06:17
Mixing rooms are disegned as a one acoustically balanced environment, with speakers matched for that purpose.

The design takes into consideration frquency and reverberation (ambience) as well.

If you were to mix outside your sound would likely be "sucked" by the air around you therefore, your freq. response would change as would the perception of ambience which in turn would lead to erroneous EQ correction and way too much REVERB in your mix.

That's only a guess...I have NEVER mixed a song outside (though Like to compose outside) and I have no intention of doing so either :)

Member for

17 years 5 months

JoeH Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:35
If you're truly outside, with no reflections whatsover aside from the gear and the ground beneath your feet, then you're ALMOST at the equivalent of an anechoic chamber. (There will also be wind, birds, cars, etc., I'm sure, unless you live on the moon or something...)

Although the world's best speakers are tested in anechoic chambers, I wouldn't recommend it in general. It might be fun as an experiment, but not something you'd want to do with any regularity.

The equivalent to this is live sound reinforcement done outdoors; not sheds, and definitely NOT 100K people in a soccer stadium with its own zip code, but something more sane, perhaps 5-10K people in an open, uncovered arena. (If it's too big a venue, then wind and temp differences can do bizarre things to the mix as well.)

I've heard (and done) some of the best live gigs ever at smallish outdoor venues with no walls or ceilings. If everything else is done correctly and it's a good robust system, tuned and in shape, it sounds great. I once heard Dream Theater and ELP at Jones Beach in NY, and the sound was among the best I've ever heard anywhere, period, due to a great sound system, talented engineers behind the board, and overall great (dry, outdoor) acoustics. There was no ceiling or hard reflective surface to muck up the sound, and aside from the crowd behind me, the sound just went on (and out) seemingly forever. All the EQ and DSP made sense in this case; no mud, no slaps from the side walls or ceilings, and the subs seemed to work better as well.

Still, I dunno if I would want to mix and/or master CDs outside, on any kind of regular basis: Wind! Rain! Snow! Sunburn! Frostbite! Bugs! Critters! :twisted:

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Tue, 09/26/2006 - 11:43
The problem is not about making a live gig sound good outside. The problem would be that a MIX done outside wouldn't sound the same ANYWHERE else...but, outside and in the same venue. You can't transfer that mix to another venue and expect it to sound the same.

When you mix a live show you work with the sound in the same venue as it is meant to be heard (plus or minus the audience). You also set up specific delays to compensate for distance VS freq. time align the system.

When you mix for a CD that specific mix it supposed to sound the same very where else. So, there are different problems to solve as opposed to mixing a live show outside.

Member for

17 years 5 months

JoeH Tue, 09/26/2006 - 12:01
You are absolutely correct, Digit. Perhaps I wasn't clear in making my point that live sound in an OPEN space overall is usually better sounding and a lot more fun. It almost always sounds better than in an enclosed space (Uusally a hockey rink or a football stadium. Most of those are just awful.)

Perhaps I'm stretching the question posed with this analogy, but in my experience, live sound in a truly open, uncluttered space was always more rewarding for me as a mix engineer, as were the live shows I've attended done by others.

You also need a LOT more power, and overall better gear, because there's no reflections, and the sound dissipates astonishingly fast. I'm old enough to remember the first time my band did a live gig with our then-200 watt PA System. (This was back in the 70s; I know, the stone age of live sound!) With no subs and no real power to drive the system in an open space, the sound was thin, underpowered and just awful.

So if you take the same approach with mixing stuff outdoors (I know, this is just getting tedious now), the same would apply: You need lots of power to get the same "oomph" of sound, and speakers that can deliver it as well. I don't know the math, but I'm guessing there's a huge percentage of sound that would normally be reflected is now just gone; dissipated into the air.

Didn't mean to hijack the thread, but I just see a big similarity in terms of what to expect when doing either: live concert sound in the outdoors and/or mixing music outside. (And of course, NO WAY would the mix from the live PA be acceptable for any kind of CD mix, etc. Two entirely different disciplines at work there, indeed.)

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Tue, 09/26/2006 - 16:37
As a player (and not to hijack the thread either) I have enjoyed equally well playing inside or outside.

Some facilities (like the Teatro des Bellas Artes in San Juan, Puerto Rico) have incredible monitoring facilities (and engineerd) and they make for a great performing experience (for both artists and audience).

To go back to the thread 1/2 way at least: live recordings are usually re-mixed in a studio and usually monitored in a truck, outside the concert facility and/or in the field (if it's an outside concert) but, in either case, acoustically isolated from the live sound.

If you are 'forced' to mix outsied I'd strongly rec. a pair of good headphones for reference.