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Mixing with wonky hearing

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Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:24 pm

Apologies if there are already threads on this subject, but was a difficult thing to search for without getting buried in masses of unrelated results...
Does anyone have any tips on mixing with lopsided hearing please?

About 6 months ago I had a fairly aggressive infection in the middle and inner right ear. Spent two weeks completely deaf on one side, and about a month with constant dizziness and tinnitus. The tinnitus gradually subsided and hearing started coming back but hasn't returned in full, and the medical profession seem unable to tell me if/when it will. So I'm struggling a bit with mixing...
The effect is alas not flat across the spectrum so I can't just turn up one side of my headphones. I can get around some challenges by flipping L/R, so I can at least hear what is going on in the right side in isolation by using my left ear.
But anything involving stereo position/effects etc is bit of a challenge. Obviously not really critical for my amateur musical meanderings but it's bugging me!
Any suggestions gratefully received - even if it's just reassurance that it's possible to eventually get used to it to the point where it's no longer a problem. Or maybe that's over-optimistic :headbang:
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Folderol » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:01 pm

I've got a dip in my hearing on just the RH side (bandstop filter around 5kHz), and with long practice have found L/R flipping works well enough, and I seem to have learned to account for apparent stereo shifts - at least other listeners seem to think the mixes are OK.
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:41 pm

Thanks Will, that's encouraging to, erm, hear...
Do you find that other tracks you know well sound "normal" again after a while? My favourite CDs still don't sound right as I can't not hear the difference.
It's not like I'm mixing stuff for release, but finding it very frustrating to not feel I can trust my ears - material that I know is exceptionally well recorded sounds wrong, so struggling to know what I'm aiming for :(
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Music Wolf » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:15 pm

If it's any consolation, Brian Wilson has been almost totally deaf in one ear since an early age - and his results aren't too shoddy.
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Guest » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:40 am

I’ve been deaf in me right lug’ole for more than a fair few moons now, even when I wasn’t I didn’t really mix within the usual stereo field as per norm.

I’ve also never used reference tracks and have always, perhaps wrongly? looked on mixing audio as laying one sound on top (or behind) the other, prob due to cutting teeth on PortaStudio, bouncing on a Philips 1/4 reel to reel before that too.

I’ve also never been interested in using compression, limiting etc and my gain structure is near non-existent, however the only diff between my mix and a mix I had recently done on line from my stems is the compression and perhaps bass weight, I’m on 5 inch speakers, and the same guy also mastered two of my own mixed/finished club mixes, this is because I see, er, ‘ear mixing as merely levels, not some fanciful stereo field trickery.

At the mo’ I’m mixing a guitar track of mine entirely in mono, it sounds fine to me, I’m biased, it would wouldn’t it.

Mixes today, especially dance stuff, are engineered, manufactured if you like, to an exacting degree/standard, i.e LOUDNESS war, this is bollocks to me, mixing is an Art all painters paint differently, I paint wot I want to hear, that’s it…

Me working ear ain’t all that ‘ot neither, but experience/knowledge can tell you a lot, even though I’m not hearing all the freq’s…

Gotta go wiv wot you got mate, don’t worry or fret over wot used to be, adapt and conquer, all is not lost.

If you can be arsed, listen to some of my stuff on Youtube and S0undcloud, all done since losing hearing, all different, some a bit wobbly maybe, but Joe & Josephine Public don’t know or care, plus I’m not just a writer producer, I’m Joe too. Forum admin said ‘e liked my Psycho Killer cover, didn’t mention that it’s an iffy/crappy mix though...

The only perfection in this World/Universe is Nature herself, (we are part of nature, part of that perfection,) hence I don’t strive towards wot others assume is perfection in audio-engineering, I just give it me best shot, some mixes are perhaps, subjectively? better than others, that’s not my real concern, my only concern is the quality of the intervals.

All paintings are different and all painters paint differently, even though they use pretty much the same tech stuff/ideas, you sir, like me sir, need to find your own style.

Don’t think about wot’s missing, just use wot you’re left wiv to the best of your ability, it’ll sort itself.
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:59 am

Previous post above...

:thumbdown: :roll: :yawn:

Why persist in this affectation that irritates so many?
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:13 am

I know of a few people with various levels of hearing challenges.

I'd suggest doing all your initial mixing in mono, on a single speaker. That way both ears and brain will work together have the best chance of figuring out the balance issues.
If you really want to produce stereo mixes, then once you have done all the basic work in mono, use a good stereo metering tool (a vectorscope-type display) to help position things as required to build a good wide soundstage -- you will soon learn how to interpret the vectorscope.

Of course, the balance will change slightly when you start panning things around, but the variations will be very slight. At that point, it would be worth calling in a friend to help check the stereo balances with reference to your original mono ones.

I hope your hearing recovers fully in time, but I expect you will learn to adapt to a large degree as well.

H
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby resistorman » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:29 pm

My right ear is _very_ different from my left, yet I've managed to make a living engineering. Hugh's suggestion of starting in mono is very good. My own method has been to not sit between speakers most of the time. I tend to listen from a distance and off axis, moving around and turning differently from time to time. A chair with good wheels has been helpful :D Flipping the channels helps if I'm worried about it, but I've adapted well enough that I rarely do that anymore.

Headphones are another story! I've gotten used to it, but I don't make main mix decisions from them, just another reference. Theoretically, you could make separate eq and loudness curves for each ear...

The tinnitus going away is a good sign, hope things continue to improve for you.
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Logarhythm » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:19 pm

Gents, thanks for all the positive suggestions and good wishes. This place remains one of the internet’s rare refuges of civility and helpfulness.

I think part of what I’m struggling with is the distraction of it at present –even the best recordings that I own on CD sound boxy with a very pronounced HF rolloff. Space constraints mean I’m also stuck on headphones for the time being, at least for real listening – I could steal the little hifi speakers from the kitchen and probably squash them onto this desk, but I find them rather woolly so not necessarily going to help much. Hopefully in the next few months I’ll have space to get some better monitoring set up again, otherwise that thread in the Recording forum on tiny monitors may need to be consulted whilst carefully restraining the debit card ;)

Hugh – The vectorscope is a superb idea, thank you. With insights like that I have to ask – have you ever thought about doing this for a living? :mrgreen:
Got a bit of free time over the weekend so will be giving this a try.

Resistorman – Feedback from someone who's conquered the same issue is really helpful, thanks :thumbup:
Once I have proper monitors (or at least a closer approximation thereof) running again I’ll give the position tip a go. Already have a wheely chair, just need to train the dog not to sit so close - warm feet in winter is nice, but he’s not too keen on being caught by the rollers…

The EQ curves idea had also occurred to me and the fact that someone else has thought of it definitely validates the notion as vaguely sensible rather than completely fanciful :P
I’ve got a reasonable idea about where the dips/drops in frequency perception are, but had wondered about using a sinewave generator to map it in a bit more detail and then creating a curve to suit that I can switch in over the R/H output. Depending on how I get on with some of the other simpler suggestions I may actually end up trying this.
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby BobTheDog » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:28 pm

I have this problem, right ear from an infection as well, years ago, never got any better :(

The real problem for me is lack of any high frequency hearing in the right ear rather than the general level.

Headphones are a total no hope, I can adjust the level balance to centre things but then I have totally changed the frequency balance.

Monitors don't suffer so much but using mono, flipping channels and listening at a distance help, as resistorman says a chair with wheels really help.
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Jadoube » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:39 am

I think the real energy in any mix is the mono mix... that is how most people experience music despite whatever they might say. By concentrating on this new challenge, you may be pleasantly surprised to find a real strength.

When your ear comes back, and I hope it does, you'll be a better mixer for it. Good luck!
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:41 pm

Thanks for the extra input gents. It is very reassuring to know others work around this quite successfully :)
BobTheDog - sounds (sorry!) like we have pretty much the same issue. Unrelated to mixing but did you find you stopped "hearing" the difference eventually?
Mine doesn't seem to be improving and it annoys the hell out of me when I'm trying to listen to music that no longer sounds how it used to / is supposed to...
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby Dave B » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:01 pm

Personally, I try not mix with Wonky hearing - he just complains that he doesn't like my snare and that the guitar needs to be louder ..... :bouncy:
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:52 am

there was a kickstarter idea put together by two audiologists in Australia (doing this from memory so it may not be totally accurate) who were going to design custom headphones that had some form of built in compensation for deficiencies in each ear. I didn't research it much so can't say if the science behind it is, er, sound, but they explained it in a way that made sense at the time.
I almost sent them money but bought a cool keyboard instead!
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Re: Mixing with wonky hearing

Postby BobTheDog » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:03 pm

Logarhythm wrote:Thanks for the extra input gents. It is very reassuring to know others work around this quite successfully :)
BobTheDog - sounds (sorry!) like we have pretty much the same issue. Unrelated to mixing but did you find you stopped "hearing" the difference eventually?
Mine doesn't seem to be improving and it annoys the hell out of me when I'm trying to listen to music that no longer sounds how it used to / is supposed to...

No unfortunately it has never got any easier over 15 years, hopefully this won't be the same for you.
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