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Does anybody here check their mixes on their car stereo?


TGP Tech Wrangler
Staff member
What do you tend to learn about your mixes in the car? And why do you think that is?

For me, it's a chance to see how my mix reacts to a system that is more likely to be a "one note boom" rather than a nice studio monitor. If the bass turns to hell, I know I've done something wrong. In the early days this was the major revelation...it happens far less often now.

These days, what I get from the car experience, is the change of environment....the background noise, and hearing the mix in a different context. Sometimes you can spend a bunch of time tweaking some effect to be just right in the studio, and then never hear it in the car....but you can hear that the vocal is too low! If the vocal can't compete with the road noise, you're in trouble.
Quoted for truth.

In addition to my car, I'll also listen on crappy old earbuds. While the car informs me of low-end issues, the earbuds highlight the upper mids and high end. It's not particularly pleasant but if it's not painful, it's another indication that my mix is good.


I don't check mixes in the car or much of anywhere else for that matter... but listening to the same speakers nearly everyday for over a decade kinda does that.

Once in a while I'll listen in the car or home stereo/soundbar but its usually prompted by artist feedback. If they say there getting too much of this or not enough of that, some general translation thing I'll listen outside the shop but otherwise its exceedingly rare these days.

When I do listen somewhere else its usually wav files on the phone... occasionally stream the MP3's from dropbox. Listen off my laptop to the soundbar in the TV room. Kinda depends on the situation & my available time.

Most car stereos these days have a 1/8 aux in and or bluetooth. I haven't willingly burned a CD in years unless its by request.

And funny, early last year I mastered a project where they wanted CD copies to approve sequencing and I swear, after a few revisions and like 3-4 copies per revision for artist & management realized I must've burned 2 dozen discs and found my stack of blanks really low.

There was a point in time that I probably burned 100 discs in as many days but that point is waaaaaaay past. Long gone. Bought another 200 blank discs and they'll probably last at least 5-7 years. Put it this way, I haven't taken the wrapper off the stacks I bought at least a year ago.

Semi related, you know whats really dead? Blank DVD's. Can't remember the last time I used one for anything and have way over 100. I'm trying to think of a good art project to use 'em for before I just throw 'em away.


With all the extra noise you have while driving, I don't think you'll miss a couple of 1s and 0s for any degradation of quality of streaming over bluetooth. If you can get the files on your phone and stream, it will sound fine while driving, particularly compared to and in dash cassette player.

I think the more important question is how many of you fine folks adjust the balance between front left/right speakers to account for your left position in the driver's seat.


Squier to the Grand Funk
Gold Supporting Member
Since I use a Fostex cassette 4 track and my truck has a tape player, yes, I do check my recordings in a vehicle.


Silver Supporting Member
Absolutely. I do about 20 listens over the course of a week on the car stereo, a boom box, cheap earbuds, and a bluetooth speaker streaming off my phone. My thought being, God willing, that this is how people will listen should I pop on a streaming service. After this, I go back and tweak the things that were starting to annoy me. :)

Pete Cage

I check em on every set of speakers I can get my hands on.
Yes, absolutely.

I find the Auratones to be handy in getting the vocals to sit right. On some systems, it seems like I can flap the vocal fader up and down 6 dB and it doesn't sound much different, but on the Auratones the difference between the vocals being too loud and being barely audible is just a tiny movement on the fader. It brings it into sharp focus.


I don't check mixes in the car or much of anywhere else for that matter... but listening to...
...ATC monitors in a well-treated environment took away that need for me.

As for listening in the car, I maintain a DropBox account. I make sure the song is downloaded to my phone, and then my phone is paired as a media player in my car via bluetooth. It's an easy way to hear music that is not iTunes or some other proprietary kludgy software that exists only to make sure the maker (iTunes=Apple) gets paid (and not the artist).


Silver Supporting Member
I always do that When in the studio since the car is my main listening environment. If it’s good enough for ZZ Top it’s good enough for me.


david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member

iTunes suks because you need to tag every field otherwise you’re looking at a grey screen. Try using Windows media and a old school MP3 player like the photo.
car or no car, i only check my mp3's at the end of the mixing process; i spend a fair amount of time on my mixes at the very quality to which they've been recorded.
i check:
1) HD,
2) useful sample/bit-rate conversions, then
3) crappy sample/bit-rate conversions..... like mp3's.

over the decades, i've developed a mix-bus for myself that can convert down to mp3 pretty well, on most (but not all) material.


Tone is in the Ears
I just upload my songs to SoundCloud (or whatever, there are many sites now - Clyp, SoundClick, etc) and navigate to the website on my phone and plug my phone into the aux input on my radio. You can also go Bluetooth but the volume is often limited.

My car has a USB port but they did something to it to block songs without rights, including my own recordings - it worked for a few years and then it stopped.


Cars, Auratone, home stereo, old school engineers built transmitters at their studios and would just strap a limiter across it and send it out to the parking lot!

I have a pair of mix cubes in the control room and a good mono check on those usually tells you Pretty quickly where you are.


Gold Supporting Member
I check my car, my headphones that I walk my dog with and my Barefoot's have 4 modes which I also switch to but I also have some Beyer headphones which I also trust. I try to over do it because I definitely have thought it sounded perfect before and then went to listen in other settings and been really off. Now my room is better treated and I'm more experienced with my monitors but between walking my dog and driving to work it's not a problem to listen to several mixes or a master that way. I do use iTunes but I've had issues with the cloud but that's rare. I'm not getting better with my mixes and masters where when I think I'm done and listen in my other ways I rarely make changes to them.


For me that's a "like....duhhh"
I do a USB stick version and listen to it everywhere...phones, laptop, car, stereo with giant sub-woofer (sometimes this one REALLY surprises me how bad the low end mix is after mixing with studio monitors and headphones).
Speaking of headphones, I use studio grade headphones to mix (both open and closed back...I use Sennheisers just because they were my first pro cans and I'm used to them). I also check with a couple types of buds, sports headphones (which have hyped EQ), and at least one pair of noise-cancelling phones.


Silver Supporting Member
I do that all the time. I either burn to a CD or, more commonly, upload the song to my Soundcloud account.


As a studio engineer, I always recommend listening to mixes on speakers on which, and environments in which, you're most familiar with listening to other peoples' releases. The more sets of speakers, the better.

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