Skip to main content

Mix doesn't translate...

I can't afford a second set of studio monitors. My mixes sound great to me on my monitors and headphones but don't translate to car and other stereos. The vocals get buried and honky. Guitars and Reverbs sound thin and cold. Bass still punches at the bottom doesn't transition very smoothly into the midrange. I'm at risk of having my first full length album sound great in the studio and crappy everywhere else. It's getting near crunch time and I can't possibly run back and forth from my car burning cd's trying to get things to balance out. Any suggestions for equalization tips or reassurance that professional mastering might be able to help? -Benji


RemyRAD Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:40
I cannot stress enough the need to have some known quality reference to start with. By this, I don't necessarily mean other speakers but rather, very well-known and established commercial CDs. Particularly by those wonderful world-class engineers such as Bruce Swedien, George Massenburg, Bob Clearmountain, Chuck Anley, Roger Nichols, Elliot Scheiner, Ed Churney, et al.. These guys are the engineering icons of our industry. Now I truly don't think many will be able to approach their extremely high caliber mixes. But you will at least be listening to a known reference source to use as a spectral starting jumping off point. If you can even minimally match some of the spectral signature as it appears through your current monitor system, you will get closer to Nirvana in spite of Kurt Cobain's death. And lest we not forget you will be listening to the mastering engineers recording optimizations as well. But don't let that increased loudness level fool you. You won't be listening for that. You'll be listening to the tonality, the sonics signature, the character of the sound and not how loud things appear on these reference CDs. And it is only then that you will discover how truly bad your mixes are sounding. This is not to put you down but to make you understand that no matter what kind of monitor system you utilize, the best monitors don't necessarily translate to the best mixes. As evidenced by this example.

There is a wealthy gentlemen that I have known since the mid-1970s. He originally had a small esoteric, audiophile, stereo shop. He then elected to build a recording studio in the back and equip his control room with one of the major speaker manufacturers that he carried. A well-known manufacturer of of high-quality consumer and professional industrial speakers, Klipch. Well that was fine and good and things sounded great in his control room. BUT NONE OF HIS RECORDINGS EVER TRANSLATED WELL TO ANYTHING ELSE! You're lied too much on the technical blah blah and his personal beliefs that these were a superior monitoring system. Well he was right and he was dead wrong. Eventually, years later, I don't think he really came to his senses but other folks did. So now he has monitors that are more acceptable standards of the industry and other engineers involved. It's probably a good thing he's lost so much of his hearing from monitoring too loud over the years and has lost interest in recording things himself. He doesn't have to worry about making a living as his family are very wealthy Italian construction company. So I probably know where Jimmy Hoffa is. Way below his custom poured cement studio foundation. Obviously, he is a nonunion facility.

Union member of NABET for over 25 years.
Ms. Remy Ann David

Link555 Tue, 11/13/2007 - 09:01
Do you have a mic that has a close to flat frequency response? If so grab a frequency generator. Check out the free demo of the VIRTUAL MINIRATOR:

Set up the mic where you ears would normally be. Sweep the frequency at a known repeatable gain, say 85dB. You will want ear protection. Adjust the mic gain of your mic preamp so that it doesn’t overload when the loudest frequencies is played out of your monitors.

Next Sweep the frequencies and record the dBu of the mic signal for each frequency. There are better ways but this will give you a good crude estimate of the rooms response.