In the last blog post, we spoke about the pros of using speakers against headphones for mixing and what Headphones can and should be used for in mixing. As a continuation of our last discussion let’s also go through certain things that we as engineers should take care of when we are working on a speaker monitoring environment.
No. 1

Room Sound:

The one reason why most people are scared of mixing on speakers is “Room Sound”. A lot of people use this term even without understanding what it really means, so lets first understand what this means. We all know that when we hear the same song on different speakers in different rooms the sound that we perceive changes drastically.
This happens because of the behavior of sound in a closed room. All of us have learned what standing waves are in our school physics classes.
Essentially, what standing waves do is increase or decrease some frequencies depending on the dimensions of the space that we are listening in.
Acoustics
So every time we work on a mix in a room we should know what frequencies the room is adding or removing. Without understanding what your room sounds like you might just end up tweaking frequencies that “you feel” are missing in your mix, but they are actually being because of the room. This is one of the major reasons why most student mixes end up sounding either too boomy or completely lacking low end.

How do you fix this?
A. Monitor at low volumes: When you reduce your monitoring level from the speakers, you also reduce the amount of a room that interacts with this sound.
B. Treatment: Just by treating the corners, first reflection points and the back wall you can fix the majority of problems with your room.
C. Use both speakers and headphones to cross-check your mixes.
No. 2

Color of the Speakers:

As important as it is to know what your room sounds like, you should also be aware of the color your speakers are adding to your mixes. Some speakers by design, have an exaggerated low end wheres are some are more sensitive to higher frequencies.
Let’s take an example of two speakers, the Adam A7X and Rokit5s. If you listen to your mix on both of these speakers side by side you might find your mix to have too much top end on one and too much bottom end on the other. If I were to use either of these speakers to mix, my perception would be skewed by the color of the speakers. Let’s say we were to mix on the Adams, we would be hesitant to push the top end of the vocal track when monitoring on these speakers since the speaker intrinsically sounds bright. This might give me a resultant mix that is actually dull if heard on other speakers.

How do you fix this?
A. Understand your speakers Color, Practice on your speakers.
B. Study the speaker Manual, understand the frequency response and other specs and characteristics of your speakers.
No. 2

My Recommendations:

Speakers:

1. Neumann KH120s:
These are by far my most favorite 5inch nearfield speakers.
Budget: Expensive.
Pros: The transient definition of this speaker is unparalleled, in this budget range. The directionality of these speakers makes it extremely useful in a nearfield environment. These also have a handy control for room EQ correction.

2. Dynaudio LYD5
Another pair of great monitors, that provide the most bang for the buck.
Budget: Mid-Range
Pros: Very Flat, Unique design, great transient definition.

3. Rokit5:
The cheapest of all the options, this speaker is a great start for a lot of mix engineers:
Budget: Cheap
Pros: Sturdy, Room correction EQ and cheap
Cons: Exaggerated low end, lacks definition.

Headphones:

1. Beyerdynamic DT880:
Budget: Expensive
Pros: Open back, wider soundstage, unparalleled definition on transients, very even frequency response, not too harsh.
Cons: Service for this company in India is bad.

2. Shure840:
Budget: Mid-range
Pros: Comfortable to wear, even response, good detail in the lower frequency range.
Cons: Increased sensitivity in the High Mid-range, leads to major ear fatigue.

3. HD202:
Budget: Low-End
Pros: Cheap
These headphones can’t really be used for Mixing, but they make for a great pair of reference headphones

Get in touch!

If you guys have another other questions you would like to shoot at me, just shoot me a mail at ronak@gray-spark.com.
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