Mixing for the iPod?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Gerry, May 21, 2005.

  1. Gerry

    Gerry Guest

    Studios (commercial and private) can spend $$$ on monitors, sound baffles, etc for mix/mastering.....but in this day and age, and certainly the future for pop music....iPods and Mp3s - why not mix using a $10 pair of ear buds?
    Or do you think the big studios are already doing that?
     
  2. Antero

    Antero Member

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    Because you'll have a hell of a time figuring out how to deal with the bass frequencies, and it'll probably suck pretty badly once it hits anything besides an iPod, not to mention the difficulty of proper panning going from headphones to a stereo.

    Mixing with GOOD headphones is hard enough.
     
  3. elambo

    elambo Member

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    There are speakers called Aurotones that are very popular for emulating what a cheaper or smaller system will sound like. I ALWAYS listen through them before signing off on a mix. I also like to listen through a certain Sony TV's speakers that I've become very familiar with. If I'm able to make the song sound good through all of these, as well as the regular studio monitors then I know without a doubt that it will sound good on an iPod or as a low-rate MP3, etc.

    There's no reason to start with the cheaper listening system as a reference. What would happen if a song was mixed on an iPod ready pair of monitors, then you threw the mix into a pair of Linn monitors? You'd realize that you missed a lot of things. The above process is pretty rock solid, assuming, of course, that the engineer has a good perspective of how his mixes will translate to the real world, whether hi or lo fi.
     
  4. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    A good mix engineer will use a lot of different speakers for reference, big small, medium etc.
    Trouble with mixing on small headphones is that you have no real way of knowing what the bottom end is like until you hear it on big monitors.

    Another problem is, I have three pairs of iPod earbuds and they all sound totally different.

    Man, I *hated* those things when I was engineering, we used to call them "Horror-tones"
    I think they've pretty much been fazed out for better sounding small speakers, since most people's hifi setup is way better than them now anyway.
     
  5. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Fazed out? You're kidding, right. Although the term Horror-Tone, or Horrotone, is popular, it's tongue-in-cheek. EVERY engineer I know will joke about them, but most still reference all of their mixes on them a few times during the process. Especially for vocal leveling. The newer (but not necessarily "better" in terms of reference) small speakers don't offer the same story about where the vocals sit in the mix and how sure you can be that your mix will translate. Or if they do, I haven't heard any.

    Yamaha NS-10s are the same way. I don't know anyone that would want to use these monitors as their primary listening speakers, but there isn't a top studio anywhere that doesn't have a pair (even if they're sitting off to the side at the moment) because we've all learned to use them and we know how they will translate.

    But to the point of this topic, what's most important in the big picture is that the engineer has a clear understanding in his/her head of what the "real world" sounds like and is able to adjust the mix to accomodate. You're not as likely to have a clear perspective if you're using inferior speakers.

    Try painting a picture through fuzzy glasses. When you're done, and you've put your glasses back on, you may not like what you see. False lines, mistakes, poor colors, etc. But if you paint with 20/20 vision, it's much more likely that your painting will still be a "general" representation of your intention to someone with poor vision (ie, mp3). I know that a lot of artists squint at times as they're painting just to get an alternate view. They may also walk around the room or get very close up. This is no different than an engineer who uses perfect speakers AND Horrotones together.
     
  6. Orren

    Orren Member

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    The thing to remember is that the better the monitoring system (including multiple references, such as checking mixes on near fields, car stereos, boom boxes, and so on), the better a good engineer can make a mix that translates to any given playback device.

    In other words, if you only mix on earbuds, your mix might end up sounding good on earbuds, but will sound like crap on even $50 PC speakers. If you mix on the $50 PC speakers, your mix might sound good on those, and maybe on earbuds, but crap in a car. If you mix only for a car stereo, it may sound crappy on a home stereo system. You get the idea.

    So mix on the best system you can afford, and check your mixes on as many different systems as you can, to get a mix that balances well on any sort of system you can imagine playback.

    Orren
     
  7. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Orren - you could have just said "ditto" to what's already been mentioned and saved five minutes time ;)
     
  8. Orren

    Orren Member

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    True. But I had five minutes to spare. ;)

    Orren
     

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