I recently bought a new custom desk for the studio. Now all my gear is on this one piece of furniture. (I LOVE this desk.)
When I sat down at the new desk for the first time to mix a song, I noticed that everything in the mix seemed to be off-center. Even when I listened in mono, the “center” of my speakers was a bit off to the left.
This has happened to me many times before. Usually the culprit is some sort of obstruction in the path of the audio.
For example, a few years ago I put my equipment rack to the right of my right speaker and angled it in so I could reach the knobs more easily. It was perfect, except the reflections of the sound off the front of the rack caused my stereo image to veer to the right.
See, when you acoustically treat the walls to the left and right of your mix position with some sort of absorption, your ears get used to hearing mostly the direct sound from the speakers, instead of bouncing off the side walls.
But if something gets in the way of the audio and keeps it from being absorbed, you hear it as a lop-sided mix.
Back to my current setup. I’ve got 2-feet-by-4-feet absorbers to the left and right of my mix position. And looking at them, they seem to be the same distance from the back wall.
Well, I was definitely hearing a lop-sided mix, so I grabbed my trusty measuring tape.
First I measured the speakers. They were the same distance from both the back and side walls. Okay.
Then I measured the distance of each acoustic panel from the side wall. As it turns out, the one on the left wall was a good 4-5 inches farther away from the back wall than the other one. That meant some of the sound of that left speaker wasn’t being absorbed. It was bouncing off that exposed wall and hitting my ears, causing the mix to sound like it was panned a little more to the left.
I moved the panel a few inches and — BOOM! — problem solved.
While you can “eyeball” a lot of things in the studio, sound waves are fairly precise little creatures. You’d be better off measuring things than simply eyeballing it. It’ll keep you from being attacked by a lop-sided mix monster.
For more on the custom acoustic panels I have in my studio, check out the videos I posted for my VIP members.
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