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Better, Quieter, More Productive.

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Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby Taxman » Thu Feb 27, 2020 5:37 am

Hi everyone, just thought I’d share something I enjoyed that was very beneficial.

I have *some* acoustic treatment in my room (DIY panels and traps) which has been I great help when tracking. I mostly mix on 702’s and only crank up the monitors in the rare moments when the family is out.

However, recently I’ve been trying mixing on monitors with the level waaaaaay down to try and take the room out of the equation somewhat (and kids, neighbours etc.)

Happily this has resulted in mixes several orders better than before. When i go back to the headphones it’s amazing. Everything is tighter, especially the low end, punchier and has loads more energy and is well balanced. Then, when increasing the volume of the monitors, ta da! It’s better.

I read about doing this before in less than perfect rooms and it’s really quite a revelation. I’ve got a note on the monitor level knob to be careful with my ears. However the temptation is now reducing.

Care to share any of your eureka moments?
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Re: Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby Ariosto » Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:01 am

Taxman wrote:Hi everyone, just thought I’d share something I enjoyed that was very beneficial.

I have *some* acoustic treatment in my room (DIY panels and traps) which has been I great help when tracking. I mostly mix on 702’s and only crank up the monitors in the rare moments when the family is out.

However, recently I’ve been trying mixing on monitors with the level waaaaaay down to try and take the room out of the equation somewhat (and kids, neighbours etc.)

Happily this has resulted in mixes several orders better than before. When i go back to the headphones it’s amazing. Everything is tighter, especially the low end, punchier and has loads more energy and is well balanced. Then, when increasing the volume of the monitors, ta da! It’s better.

I read about doing this before in less than perfect rooms and it’s really quite a revelation. I’ve got a note on the monitor level knob to be careful with my ears. However the temptation is now reducing.

Care to share any of your eureka moments?
Yes, I agree with this concept, and I know of at least one prof engineer/producer who thinks like this as well (Classical music, mainly chamber).

I find that playback on speakers if at too high in volume introduces problems in the bass as well as a tinny effect on the highs. Probably caused by untreated room. (Just normal living room but decent amp and speakers). Headphones seem to always give me the best and most balanced sound, but that's probably just me.
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Re: Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby CS70 » Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:17 am

Just be careful, during the last stages of the mix, to run it occasionally at higher levels - the perception of highs (and bass, but that's less of a problem) changes with volume and especially vocals may need a little adjustment to ensure they work both at low level and when the music's blasting.

Usually it's no more then one or two dBs down to make them sound good and glued at higher levels, then you go back to low level and give a little EQ boost in the right place (someplace from mid-highs on, usually) to ensure that once again they can be heard well also at that volume.

Then you repeat with progressively smaller adjustments until you get a mix where the vocals sound uniformly balanced and glued at all levels.

You can also decide not to reduce the whole level and instead simply make an EQ cut, of course, but most often I find it the first alternative easier. Personal preference tough.
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Re: Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby The Bunk » Thu Feb 27, 2020 12:53 pm

Several years ago I visited one of the esteemed Mods from here to help me with some mastering and the first thing he did was turn the volume levels down. It wasn't anything to do with room treatment although IIRC the room was in the process of being refurbished, but the principle was that the clarity at lower volume levels would be - and were - much higher. A valuable lesson in deed.
My band also once were forced to rehearse at my gaff in the dining room as we couldn't get a rehearsal room. So the levels HAD to be turned down and the guitarists basically used acoustics, the drummer was just on the one snare, and no mic for the vox. The bassist was amped but at the minimum audible level. It was a real eye (or ear!) opener as again the clarity was just sooo much better than what we'd get in a rehearsal studio (er..."actually you're playing that bit wrong...!") where basically we'd all be constantly turning our levels up so that we could hear ourselves (individually). By the end of the session your ears are ringing and it's just a sonic mess. So our rehearsal routine pretty much became my gaff until the week before a gig and the rehearsal studio for one final "dress rehearsal" in the week of the gig itself where we would let rip. A definite case of "less is more".
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Re: Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:53 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: Yay! My work here is done.... :bouncy:
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Re: Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby Taxman » Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:34 am

Great comments all, thank you. I love these “aha!” moments.

I read all the time how Ken Scott (a hero) mixed very loud. Although that would be nice my spare room bares little resemblance to Trident.

Thanks for the advice CS70. Noted. Extremely surprising how much eq-ing I just needed to undo as well as a nudge to levels here and there. I try to cut where possible but found I needn’t have boosted as much where I did.

And yes, I give it the odd loud push!

My early band rehearsals were a mess much of the time. Although it was thrilling to be in the middle of so much loud noise it stunted progress. My Bloody Valentine we were not.
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Re: Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:57 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote::clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: Yay! My work here is done.... :bouncy:

I do hope you enjoy your retirement Hugh! :mrgreen:

On a more technical note, I also wonder if the use of 'grot box' auditions is part of a similar process, since (in my experience anyway) we tend to listen to the mix through a grot box at significantly reduced level compared with typical nearfield levels.


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Re: Better, Quieter, More Productive.

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:21 am

I remember that moment too. Mixing at a low level but where I could here everything was a revelation for me too. At least towards the last phase of the project.

It's like everything is about to fall of a cliff and can'r be heard. But if you mix it so you can hear all the musical parts at the low level, then, when somebody hears your music in a mall or car, they will be able to hear all the musical parts, even though they are all at the same (threshold) level.

Stuff I mix this way gets accepted by radio stations.
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