Working in a recording studio - Listening to a mix

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When we listen to our mix, this should take place through the near-field monitors, because they are our reference sound source. Seeing that our mix will be played on all kinds of systems (household hi-fi's, compact systems, car radios, pocket radios, night-club systems) it will be in our best interests to produce a mix that would potentially sound well-balanced on any system. So, whereas our main reference will be given by the near-field monitor, for the rare occasions in which our mix will be played on systems where very low frequencies are also reproduced (i.e. drum & bass or dancehall sound systems), we'd use far-field monitors as a reference. Clearly these two different kinds of monitors mustn't be used simultaneously.

In all studios with competent sound technicians you'd also find an extra couple of loudspeakers. They are small, usually cheap and with a fairly limited frequency response. You might wonder why you'd use such crappy loudspeakers after having spent your lifetime's savings on the best equipment around! A legitimate question indeed. Well, they are used in order to get an idea of how the mix would sound on cheap radios, mp3-players etc., and yet again it will be in our best interests to make sure the mix sounds good on these kinds of systems too.

The final listening level is of approximately 80-90 dBspl. This guarantees that all the frequencies are picked up correctly by the ear (at such dBspl levels the isophonic curve of the ear is relatively constant [Isophonic curves - Equal loudness contours ] ). In any case it is a good idea to create the mix at a slightly lower level to not strain the ears too much.

It's also good common practice to listen to the mix at very low volumes and very high ones, in order to have yet further references.

Finally, the mix should always be listened to also in mono mode to verify whether any considerable phase cancellations occur: our stereo mixes should generally guarantee mono-compatibility.


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