Q) Would you
one of those isolation booths (e.g. vocalbooth.com) for mixing in? I'm thinking that this would help keep
sounds out/in, while "tightening up" the overall sound at the mix
of a room-inside-a-room, it's a cool way to go if you don't own your
digs... that way you can take it with you at move-out time. You'll get
less noise from the outside (good for concentration), and less sound
going out into other rooms, but the stock interior acoustics aren't
product made by Vocalbooth appears to be all foam inside, which is far
too absorptive, even for vocals. If I purchased the box for mixing, I
would be installing wood over 50 to 60% of the inside surfaces,
distributed all around. For vocals, I'd add about 20% more reflective
stuff inside the box... and I'd be sure that LOTS of cool air could get
not totally sure that bottom end for mixing would be optimum in the
vocalbooth room because the panels are made with material that isn't
super dense - so bottom escapes. This is fine for vocals, percussion or
guitars, but not best for mixing. The boundary for good bottom end
depends on lots of density, namely drywall, plywood, or concrete board
to keep the low end in the room. With good density (which also helps
keeps lows from traveling into the next room) and good trapping,
you'll get a tighter sound.
going to spend $7,400 (suggested price for their 8 x 12 Producers
Special) on your mixing room, I would just go to standard
framing/drywall techniques and then trap the room. Start by putting up
a layer of 1/2" or thicker plywood first, nailed to the wall studs.
After that, you can put up drywall or anything else and nail anywhere
into the plywood. If you're renting or leasing, be sure it's ok with
the landlord or home association. Have liability insurance if you're
hiring construction help, allow for overages in budget and timetables.
Going over budget is normal.
conditions are livable as-is and you have that extra $7,400, my vote
is still to get a high-end audiophile listening system, get your
console 4 - 8' back from the speakers, and do some basic trapping in
the room. $10,000 worth of construction and so-so monitors can still
give you potential mix headaches.
Q) Why do some of my studio clients tell me
that my Pro Tools mixes are too hot? -Tom
Boy is this a good
question. I have gotten stuff from Pro Tools that people said looked
fine on the computer, and showed up WAY too hot.... in fact, when
transferring their cd into the Sonic, there were digital overs all over
the place, and that would mean a good chance that the cd plant would
reject their cdr if left uncorrected. So, yes, I agree, there are some
meter discrepancies out there.
meters to really gauge what's going on. It's very important... much
more than digital peak meters. I've found the Sonic Solution meters to
be right on target for peaks, but there is just nothing like vu's which
match the musical volume level...
2) You seemed to make a remark somewhere on
your site that I took as a shot to powered speakers like the Genelecs.
I must say, I had a pair of the smaller ones, the 1030s, and they were
the best speaker I ever mixed on.
Gens are pretty nice
I agree - they are closer to the audiophile sound I like. Not everyone
can afford Gens, so my comment was aimed slightly more toward some of
the cheaper models. Even then, I had a client who had state of the art
gear including Gelelecs.... and there were mid-range anomalies that
created big problems. Was it the monitor's fault? I doubt it. This guy
was a talented musician, but he just overlooked a monitoring issue that
was blatant to me. Heck, I did a session with engineers (from one of
the world's top corporate cartoon production companies) who couldn't
hear that they had hooked up the speakers out of phase!
speakers also have one problem as I see it... the power amp's
electronics are being bombarded by vibration every minute they're in
use. I've done listening tests to power amps, and they sound better if
they are isolated off the floor away from any vibrations. Same thing
with cd players. You might want to try getting 3 little "squished glass
marbles"... ya know, like the ones you see in the bottom of vases used
as weight or in fish tanks... and set them underneath your speakers
(assuming they're on stands or a table) and listen to the clarity that
occurs when the speaker is isolated from the stands. Perhaps you've
seen speaker isolators like this at audiophile stores that get the subs
off the ground. I have some that use concrete, granite and rubber to
isolate the speakers... and I love the results.
case of whatever works for you. Some people get great results mixing on
NS10's, which have never worked for me. If you're getting the results
you want, that's the most important thing. I come from a background of
classical violin, and I've played everywhere from the Dorothy Chandler
Pavilion in LA to the sleaziest night clubs you can imagine when I was
in a rock band. I've just always looked for that clear audio experience
coming from a speaker, and after using the audiophile stuff, I just
hear certain things like the "panel" in a sofit-mounted speaker, and
the "cone" in some other brands, and "ringing" and "false peaks" in
other systems, and slowness in others.
I'm a former audiophile too (used to have
Levinson and Audio Research stuff, Quads, Martin Logans, the whole bit.)
I used Quads for a
while, and they couldn't handle the power, but I did get good
results... Martin Logans I heard at the time needed a better sub, and I
used Dahlquist in the studio for years and loved them... I like the
bottom on the Mirage's, and after some time I'm sure I'll be getting
something more exotic and more expensive!
line... do what works! There are no rules. If the customer's happy, and
you give them lots of info for how to evaluate what they've got, things
should be cool.
Q) If I have a subwoofer, isn't that going
to make me think I have more bass on the mix than I really have?
Moderation is the
key. Some car subwoofers knock down buildings. That's not the effect
we're looking for here. We want to reveal the low frequency information
that's there in as correct as possible proportions. The sub isn't
supposed to enlarge the bass, it's supposed to balance it so that big
lows sound big, and tight lows sound tight, and tubby lows sound tubby.
It's supposed to be a better "lens". If your speakers don't reveal
32hz, how are you supposed to know if there's too much or too little
going on down there?
How many people in their cars, or at home,
are listening with subs??
there is more and more hype (both in the high's and the lows) in boom
boxes, "mega bass" headphones, "can crushers" (that's what I call the
cars with 6 woofers and a 2,000 watt amp in the trunk)... and living
rooms can have big standing waves without even trying.
placement also is a low-end horn technique that is often used by
unknowing consumers. Hey, it can sound good. Also, couches and things
that suck up highs actually seem to add to the low end without a sub
being there, so to some extent, we must allow for these cases. I do
that by having subs, and then listening to a lot of different CDs to tune the room so
that I hear all the differences that I know are there. Also, if there
is non-usable low end information that will occupy some of the home
speaker's energy, it's best to roll that off so that more efficiency is
available to the component.
of your monitors or room acoustics, having a top-notch
monitor controller or analog summing mixer that has level-matching A-B
capabilities can help improve your mixes. I've said it over and over on
this site, but whenever you really listen to commercial CDs (the
level-matching keeps it from becoming a volume contest) next to your
mix, you'll get insights that can make a huge difference in the way
your sound translates to consumer systems. Give it a real try!