What do you do if your mixing room really sucks?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Teal_66, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. Teal_66

    Teal_66 Member

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    I have been mixing for about 3 years now, and I've been steadily improving. I've read books, and attended some classes - all of which helped. I work in a 10ft x 10ft 7" room with an 8ft high ceiling.

    I have some fairly large sound panels on the front and back walls, and those have greatly reduced the room's echo. Lately, my mixes have been sounding better, but they sound nothing like I hear in the room. Not even close. So it becomes a trial and error thing. Bass frequencies, of course, being the worst aspect of the space.

    I reached out to a firm that does sound treatment technology, and sent them my room specs. They sent back a graph that showed that the room is unusable. The worst possible of everything. They said that the room is too small for the bass frequency waves - and that nothing they sold could fix the issue. So that didn't help me - because this is the only space I can mix in.

    I have tried to bring reference mixes into my sessions to see if that helps, but those mixes sound weird in the room too.

    I also try to mix at the lowest possible volume so that the room's terrible acoustics don't kick in. That has sort of helped somewhat. I don't like mixing with cans, as they don't give me an accurate picture.

    This has me sort of depressed. :facepalm

    I really do not know what to do. Any suggestions would be fully appreciated.
     
  2. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Hook up with a studio that ha accurate monitoring, that you know and trust.

    Get your mixes the best you can, at home and then go there and do the final tweaks on the low-end relationship to the rest of the mix.

    It usually takes maybe 30-40 minutes per song?

    You can even get away with just doing one song, and using the levels you get for that in the others at home, if they're all for one similar project.

    I work in a slightly larger, almost completely untreated room too, and this has worked out well for me.
     
  3. Teal_66

    Teal_66 Member

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    Excellent idea. I work on a MacPro desktop computer - not a laptop. So if I were to use an off-site studio space to do the final demo mix, what would be the best way to get my DAW session over there and working properly? (I use ProTools)
     
  4. jim683

    jim683 Member

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    I have used the Focusrite VRM USB interface box to do mixes when I was out of town and away from my speakers. It is not perfect but the sounds with the VRM were close to the sounds from my monitors.

    If you mixing room can't be fixed, and you have no other places to mix, you might want to give it a try, I saw one like I use on Amazon for $61.
     
  5. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Just take a drive?
     
  6. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    Several things.

    Don't take the advice of someone who has not actually taken a frequency analyzer system to the room.

    If you feel compelled to do it, spend the money to get it done correctly by a person or team that does it for pro studios.

    Make sure if the room is treated/being treated, that you are evaluating the playback with music you are very close to/familiar with.

    Make certain the playback system is appropriate to the room. I use Equator D5 monitors. I sacrifice a bit of low end but the mixes translate well because I also check the bottom end with ATH 50 headphones, I check the mix on several playbacks to see what I am getting. There is usually a sonic 'consensus' if you check it frequently.

    Mostly just practice/track/mix/master and compare to the classics. You can find some degree of consistency if you research it and mess with it. Just keep doing it until you find where you want to be.
     
  7. treeofpain

    treeofpain Supporting Member

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    Your room will probably not be professionally acceptable without spending major cash, and even then it will be a compromise.

    I like the idea of establishing a relationship with a local studio. Let them know what you are doing. Most studio guys will be happy to have the business, even if it is an hour here or there. It would also help of you could find a studio guy who, as Dave Ramsey says, has the "heart of a teacher" - someone who can also mentor you as you pay for studio time.
     
  8. Teal_66

    Teal_66 Member

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    Here is the latest on my sucky room: I bought a used Focusrite VRM box at a Guitar Center for about $50. Lucky for me, I have a Focusrite Saffire Pro40 interface, so the VRM box works great with their "Mix Control" software.

    Long story short: I heard my mixes in the headphones through the VRM simulation, and it sounded like crap. So I began to mix [To the head phone sound that the VRM Box was giving me]. I took the MP3, and walked it over to my playback room. I have a 1980 Marantz Amp/Receiver through some vintage JBL bookshelf speakers. I absolutely could not believe my ears! My mix sounded very very good! That VRM Box works! I made a few adjustments, and it sounded better and better.

    So - for people like me with sucky ass rooms, a VRM box does a great job.
     
  9. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    1. Rooms that are too small and bad room dimensions are impossible to overcome with acoustic treatment. But, do what you can with proper LEDE/RFZ principals (look those up if you don't know what they are). You want absorption on the front and side walls and diffusion on the rear wall, not more absorption-your room is probably too dead. Loaded bookcases make good diffusers.

    2. Get an SPL meter and make important EQ and balance decisions at 83 dB SPL. Mixing at volume levels that are too low or high causes your mixes to have messed up spectral balance.

    3. Get reference quality CD's (I use Donald Fagen "Morph the Cat") and refer to them often to keep your mix sounding like what a well mixed and mastered CD sounds like.

    4. Burn CD's and listen to your mixes on several different systems, in your car etc. Take notes and adjust you mix in your room. Repeat the process until it sounds good everywhere.
     
  10. Teal_66

    Teal_66 Member

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    Diffusion is DEFINITELY an amazing technology, but I seem to recall that most diffusion is calculated to diffuse middle frequencies, although I guess that once you calculate the channel depths, you can have a diffuser built to diffuse whatever frequency you want.

    The BIG issue with my room is that it seems that the energy produced by the lower frequencies is just too much. The low frequency wave is too long to properly work in my room. Not even a true bass trap with a moving diaphragm would be enough to control it. That low frequency wave just bounces in on itself from all corners, and really sounds awful. Also, the perfectly square dimension of the space is a bad news too, because the sound just ricochets and converges in a sort of deadly collision - which is what I hear; I hear the comb filtering of all of the converging waves. Yuck. :omg
     
  11. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    You can use a room mode calculator to find the offending frequency. Or use an oscillator and sweep the frequency until you find the frequency that excites the room.

    http://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm

    Slap an EQ on your monitors, cut that frequency and get them sound closer to "normal".

    No amount of absorption/bass trapping etc will kill the bass build up in your room due to the dimensions/ratios.

    Too much absorption of the same type (you probably have 2" thick panels) will also suck out too much of a narrow band of frequencies which may also be part of your problem. You probably have a dip in your room's mid band frequency response due to too much nonlinear absorption. You need absorption with linear frequency response which is hard to do until you get 4"-6" thick panels with different densities of absorption material.
     
  12. Dubious

    Dubious Member

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    I've mixed in a tone of rooms for 15+ years now..none of which were the same, none of which were ideal.. never had any problems.. check referance recordings, check a spectrum analyzer on reference recordings and your own mixes. check your mixes on as many different systems as possible.

    How loud are you mixing?? i mix SUPER quiet alot of the time - i have a hard time buying that you have THAT many standing waves if you aren't CRANKING the speakers.

    what monitors are you using?

    the one COMMON thing I've used in all my "less than ideal" spaces is placing a floor to ceiling bookcase PACKED with books directly opposite my monitors. I also have large rolling racks filled with records - again SUPER dense. I can move these if i need but for the most part having these up against the walls helps big time.
     
  13. Teal_66

    Teal_66 Member

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    I mix at low volumes so that the room doesn't get 'too exited'. I have M-Audio BX8 monitors, which are decent. Your idea of putting an EQ on the monitors is interesting. I guess that to do that I would have to get a piece of EQ hardware. I assume that the Interface's monitor outputs would go to the EQ, and then to the monitors.

    I would need someone's help with the room's frequency analysis to know which frequencies to alter on the EQ. That's an area I am just too inexperienced in.
     
  14. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    I ran the room mode calculator. Looks like you have big bumps at:

    70.6 Hz, 88.5 Hz and 105 Hz.

    You could try putting a high pass filter on your mix to roll off below 100 Hz while mixing so your room doesn't suck so bad.

    Get your reference material to sound good with that filter on, then mix with it on. Turn it off to burn CD's, make mp3's etc Check the mix on other systems.
     
  15. SackvilleDan

    SackvilleDan Member

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    I might be an idiot, but is it not possible to mix with a really good set of headphones? If everything's already recorded and in your DAW, I would think that there must be a set of headphones somewhere that somebody designed to have the appropriate response and EQ for mixing!
     
  16. Dubious

    Dubious Member

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    hmmm never said anything about EQ on the monitors.

    try a spectrum analyzer

    first thing pull up a REFERENCE recording that sounds GREAT and put a spectrum analyser on it.. look where the EQ points are hitting. Pull up one of your own mixes and compare.
     
  17. B Money

    B Money Member

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    you know, conventional wisdom says to never mix on headphones, but I have the same problem as the OP and I've found that mixing on a decent pair of headphones actually works fairly well for me. I tend to check the room against the cans and try to find a happy middle ground.

    My mixes are far from professional grade, but it works ok for me.
     
  18. Badside

    Badside Member

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    I have mixed in some average and some horrible rooms along the years, I have learned to compensate, A/B with quality headphones, check my mix in other spaces before committing, etc

    If that room is what you have for now, don't let it stop you from making music, just get used to its sound so you can compensate, check your mixes like I did, and keep your expectations realistic. If a special project requires the best, then just rent a studio.
     
  19. Teal_66

    Teal_66 Member

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    Agreed. As I stated earlier in the thread, when I used the VRM box with headphones, I would happily say that my mix improved by 85%. That VRM technology is a dream for my situation.
     
  20. MaClyver

    MaClyver Member

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    Wow, this thread has actually made my head spin! I really can't believe that you've been told that your room is unusable. Sure, the almost square shape won't help with the axial room modes but it's not untreatable. I would love the luxury of a room that big!

    Mate, your problem is not the room, it's your crappy speakers! M audio BX8? Seriously? :omg You're wanting to get pro sounding mixes from £200 speakers? Cheap speakers with too big woofers are the reason why your bass is out of control.

    And what are they sitting on? The corners of the desk? Speakers really need to be on solid, shot or sand filled metal stands.

    Get rid of the BX8s and spend a little more cash on ADAMs, Genelec, Focal, Dynaudio etc, you will not believe the difference, trust me. Just don't get anything with woofers bigger than six inches.

    I use ADAM A5Xs (£600 pair), sat on Atacama 1 metre high stands because of my small room, with a sub that I can kick in when needed and I also have Yamaha NS10s on my mixer overbridge.

    My room is 7X9 btw.

    And my mixes do not suck ;)

    There is hope!
     

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