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Author Topic: When mixing how loud...  (Read 5604 times)

John Suitcase

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Re: When mixing how loud...
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2008, 09:39:31 pm »

Jonah A. Kort wrote on Sun, 05 October 2008 12:50

or quiet do you monitor?  I have a 002 and I think if you turned

the knob 2 millimeters (about as soon as the stereo comes into

view), that's how quiet I am.  I don't own a SPL meter yet, no

money(s).  I generally start mixing at 11pm, my parents sleep above

my room.  But I think if someone was talking while I was mixing

that they'd have to stop talking or leave or both or

never show up.


The theory goes that if you mix too quietly, you'll mix a little heavy in the bass and treble, because our ears (shown by Fletcher and Munson) aren't as sensitive to those frequencies at low volume. Similarly, if you mix too loudly, you may mix bass and treble too lightly. But at around 85db, our ears hear things pretty flat.

There are added considerations, however. When listening quietly, you can hear some details, particularly relative levels, that are harder to hear at louder volumes. Things like reverb can be a touch harder to hear, if the ambient sound in your room is too high (computer sounds, air conditioners, etc.) If you crank the volume up too loud, you can get into some distortion and compression at the speaker itself, which sometimes makes the mix sound better than it is.

Generally, I try to avoid mixing at levels higher than about 85db, until I'm done and just want to see how it feels cranked up.

If it sounds good at low volumes, 99% of the time it'll sound amazing cranked up.

If you don't have a decibel meter, you can sort of judge that level by simply asking yourself if it seems too loud. Maybe I'm crazy, but I can turn a stereo or monitor system up 'til if feels nice, not too loud, not quiet, put up my meter, and be within a db or two of 85db.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of mixing in headphones, then just checking them in the monitors. I find that getting a mix to sound great in phones (at a lowish volume) is difficult, and usually gets me close to a finished sound. Judging bass in the phones is a little tricky, but once you get a handle on what a good mix sounds like, you can mix on almost anything, at any reasonable level, I find.


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Re: When mixing how loud...
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2008, 12:37:15 pm »

I do both, and multiple methods, because every method has it's advantages and flaws. When monitoring lower, I find that certain things are louder or quieter in the mix, and when monitoring louder, certain things take a phantom elevation in the mix. That happens alot on my own mixes.....one friend remarked that he couldn't hear the guitars on a couple of tracks, but his setup is a ridiculously imperfect room, and if the guitars were any louder, they'd start to completely mask all the synths, background vocals, pianos, orchestral parts. I had mixed it so that there was a good blend of audibility at normal listening levels.....but if you put on the headphones and or turn the speakers up loud, the guitars definetely start to bury the vocals and background vocals, and that the sub 150 Hz on the bass drums really, really start to make themselves apparent.

In that sense, if you EQ things in a very specific way to not be overly compressed or limited, you start to almost have a couple different mixes--one when quiet, one when turned up. Especially when you have alot of different things in the mix, like soft melodic parts (organ, synths with the filters rolled off), loud guitars, orchestral stuff. I've noticed that orchestral stuff, if you don't have it as the dominant instrument in the quieter mix, will get fairly obscured by loud fuzz guitars when turned up. But I also tend to have a whole bunch of instruments and instrumentation going on in that not everything can be audible, i'm a big fan of non-essential additional obscured buried sounds that you have to dig for. This might sound funny, but when i'd dub tapes for friends at high speed levels, i'd be hearing instruments and parts that I didn't hear at the normal speed, where they started to take precedence. It's like the psychoacoustical properties of mixes change with environment, dB levels/ loudness, speed, etc.
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