monitor exploration

Recently, I have been deeply exploring recording and mixing. For some reason, I am attracted to the study of things that cannot be perfected, can be done in a variety of ways successfully (and more likely unsuccessfully) – basically, things that are a never ending struggle. However, I am making headway and may get where I want to be within a century or two lol.

I have changed a lot about the way I listen to mixes and on what. First, I changed the setup in my mixing room based on some things I learned from Bobby Owsinski’s web stuff. I have used a pair of Tannoy PBM 6.5 monitors for a long time. I have now moved them further away from my listening position, and also moved the monitors further apart. In conjunction with this, I moved my listening position away from the wall so that I now sit about 35% of the way into the room. I immediately noticed that it was easier to hear things like depth and width in the mix. Great.

The next step was to acquire a pair of Avantone MixCube speakers. These are sort of crappy sounding speakers that I listen to from a close distance (where I used to keep my Tannoys). While I would never make tonal adjustments with these, they are great for level adjustments since you do not get fooled by something sounding good.

I’ve got both pairs of monitors connected to my Hafler amp with a switch that lets me control which speakers are on.

So, this was all great and improved my mixes. However, I was still struggling with getting the bottom end to translate well to other listening environments. Particularly, I would end up with too little or too much deep bass.

It occurred to me that I was not accurately hearing deep bass frequencies through my Tannoys and that adding a sub-woofer might be the solution. However, after much research on the topic, I learned that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to properly add a sub-woofer and in fact would probably worsen my situation.

Having always heard that you should not mix on headphones, I was surprised to learn that a number of top engineers recommended checking low frequency balance and tone through high quality headphones to solve this apparently common problem. Now, I have a pair of Bose headphones that put out a lot of bass information, but while the tone is OK to listen on, it is not detailed enough for critical mix decisions. So, based on recommendations and research, I settled on a pair of Sennheiser HD-650 headphones. Wow, what a difference. I can really hear the bottom end as it really is and make good mix decisions that translate well.

I will post about more audio explorations soon, including compressor and vocal mic insanity. And of course, there will be more music coming.