Studio monitors - getting a good balance with mains and sub

Thinline_slim

Member
Messages
3,311
Can anyone give me some tips on getting a good balance from my mains with my studio sub-woofer? The mains and sub all have independent gain controls and I need to get a much better balance.

I've been helping a buddy with a demo here over the last couple of months and we're now in the final mix-down phase. We spent about 3 house on Sunday getting a solid mix on two songs only to find out we cut the lows out of the mix by a considerable amount!

Frustrating.
 

Rex Anderson

Member
Messages
5,364
We spent about 3 house on Sunday getting a solid mix on two songs only to find out we cut the lows out of the mix by a considerable amount!
That means your subs are turned up too loud. Some guys like their subs turned up for a lot of extra bass. You just need to mix so your stuff matches other stuff or you end up with not enough bass in your mix.

The converse is also true. If your mains with no sub are bass shy, you will add more bass to your mix and on a flat system, your mix will be bass heavy. It's all about knowing your monitor system so it TRANSLATES to other playback systems.

Play some well mixed and mastered commercial CD's (Steely Dan etc). Set balance of sub to mains to what feels right. Reference the CD's when you mix so you have the same mix balance.

If you have an SPL meter it will help. Start with just the mains on (no sub) and set level at 85 dB SPL (slow/average meter speed and "C" weighting)-that is the levle where the ear has the flatest response (google Fletcher-Munson Equal Loudness Contour Curves). Turn up the sub until it adds a bit of "weight" and low end extension to your mains. Try to mix at 85 dB SPL to get spectral balance right (how much bass ,mid, treble).

Or, get technical and use pink noise, band limited pink noise, sweep tones etc and a real time analyzer or a program like SMAART (probably beyond your level of expertise).

You need to adjust crossover frequency and phase of sub in addition to the level of the sub (if possible). Some subs have those options, some don't.

This guy (Bob Katz) knows what he's doing....

http://www.digido.com/articles-and-demos12/13-bob-katz/14-subwoofers.html
 
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oldhousescott

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,175
Honestly, unless you're doing dance music or stuff with lots of really low info, I'd just turn off the sub and mix off your mains. You may have to bypass the sub if it's performing crossover duties.

If you really must use the sub, you could rent a measurement mic, RTA, and signal generator, and pink your room. You'll want to check in several places, especially your mix position for possible nulls.
 

Monotremata

Member
Messages
1,338
After using one for like 12 years, getting rid of it was one of the best things I ever did for my mixes heh.. All it did was cause problems..

Sent from my SGH-I777 using Tapatalk
 

testing1two

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,954
Unless you have a really great tuned mixing room with gobs and gobs of bass trapping, subs reveal more problems than they solve. But home studio or pro studio, the time-tested mixing rules still apply: mix on revealing if not unforgiving monitors, test your mixes with several playback systems and always check to see if your mixes hold up in mono.
 

dporto

Member
Messages
760
That means your subs are turned up too loud. Some guys like their subs turned up for a lot of extra bass. You just need to mix so your stuff matches other stuff or you end up with not enough bass in your mix.

The converse is also true. If your mains with no sub are bass shy, you will add more bass to your mix and on a flat system, your mix will be bass heavy. It's all about knowing your monitor system so it TRANSLATES to other playback systems.

Play some well mixed and mastered commercial CD's (Steely Dan etc). Set balance of sub to mains to what feels right. Reference the CD's when you mix so you have the same mix balance.

If you have an SPL meter it will help. Start with just the mains on (no sub) and set level at 85 dB SPL (slow/average meter speed and "C" weighting)-that is the levle where the ear has the flatest res[onse (googel Fltecher-Munson Equal Loudenss Contour Curves). Turn up the sub until it adds a bit of "weight" and low end extension to your mains. Try to mix at 85 dB SPL to get spectral balance right (how much bass ,mid, treble).

Or, get technical and use pink noise, band limited pink noise, sweep tones etc and a real time analyzer or a program like SMAART (probably beyond your level of expertise).

You need to adjust crossover frequency and phase of sub in addition to the level of the sub (if possible). Some subs have those options, some don't.

This guy (Bob Katz) knows what he's doing....

http://www.digido.com/articles-and-demos12/13-bob-katz/14-subwoofers.html

^This pretty much covers it^ The bottom line is that if your mix room isn't perfect, you've got to get to know your system and how it translates to the average listening environment. The worse your mix room is the more difficult it is to make a good/well balanced mix - it can still be done though! Listen back (critically) on as many different systems as you can, and try to figure out where your deficiencies are.
 
Messages
1,118
Subs are problematic--they just are. My advice is to work without one, or at least only switch it on to check the low end.
 

Endr_rpm

Member
Messages
3,405
I high pass at ~40hz, and use headphones to check low end. ~90% of your normal playback mediums can't accurately produce frequencies that low, and you are using a ton of headroom trying to preserve it.
 

straticus

Member
Messages
3,101
Here's what I did. I mainly mix on a pair of Adam a7x's. I love 'em on their own but wanted to try a sub so I picked one up. It was a 10in sub made by Adam. It didn't work for me. I couldn't get the balance right and never felt like I could trust what I was hearing.

So I unplugged the sub and decided to take another approach. Based on reviews I've read, bought a pair on Focal Spirit Professional head phones. These things are flat out amazing for checking the low end as well and other aspects of the mix! Huge bang for your buck.

Getting the low end right or at least very close just isn't an issue for me anymore. Seriously, you might want to consider going this route. You get so much more than just a way of checking the low end. Best money I've spent for my studio in a long time and I could not be happier with my decision!
 
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335guy

Member
Messages
5,238
You got to get to know your payback speakers, and get them as flat as possible. Sub/sat systems usually are bass heavy IMO, and usually don't translate into accurate mixes. If you have been in higher end pro studios, you'll notice the little Auratones near the mixing deck. Those are often used at mixdown to see how well the mix translates to consumer gear. In a home studio, most good quality nearfield monitors work best without the use of subs. Your sub/sat speaker system is boosting the bass, causing you to mix it too low. So when you play the mixes back on consumer gear, the bass is weak.

The opposite holds trues as well. I got a buddy with a home studio. His monitors are too light in the bass for his room, so his mixes were too bass heavy when played on consumer gear.
 




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