Welcome to Day 8 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.
Once you get all these amazing tracks recorded, you’ve got to mix ’em right?
Recently I was hosting a live Q&A session. One of the attendees asked, “What’s the point of mixing? Once you have everything recorded, you just blend them together and you’re done, right?”
While mixing IS a fairly simple concept (combining multiple tracks down to a single stereo track), it takes a lifetime to master. Mixes I’m doing today sound a lot better than mixes I did a few years ago. Three years from now my mixes will sound even better (I hope). 🙂
So, we can agree that mixing is important. If that’s true, then your studio monitors are equally as important, since you’re listening to everything through them.
You need to make sure you’re using decent studio monitors. Obviously. If you’re using $20 computer speakers from Walmart, you’re probably not hearing things very accurately.
That said, even if you only have “okay” studio monitors, there are things you can do to make them sound as good as possible.
A while back I did a review of Auralex Mopads. Check out that review for complete details.
In short, mopads are monitor isolation pads. They’re designed to go between your monitors and the surface on which they’re resting. This helps to decouple the speakers from, for example, your desk.
When the speaker produces sound, those vibrations can travel from the speaker to the desk, and cause the desk to resonate at a particular frequency. This causes the low frequency response of the speaker to seem undefined, or perhaps even a little thin.
Placing a $40 set of Mopads under your monitors will create a night-and-day difference in how they sound. I know, I know. I was skeptical at first, too, but then I tried it. Great stuff. Suddenly the speakers had a deep low end and sounded very tight.
2. Acoustic Treatment
I’ve talked about acoustic treatment already (on Day 4), but it deserves another shout-out whenever talking about monitoring.
In addition to Mopads, proper acoustic treatment is a HUGE factor in how accurately your speakers (and your room) reproduce your recordings. Great speakers in an untreated room will only yield mediocre results.
Why? Because the room lies. It takes the sound that comes out of your speakers and changes it before it gets to your ears. Acoustic treatment helps minimize this.
Even if you can’t spend a lot on acoustic treatment, even a $100 box of foam will make a noticeable improvement.
Some recommended reading:
Day 8 Challenge
Today’s challenge is to carve out an hour of time in the next day or so to sit down in front of your monitors and listen to one of your favorite albums in its entirety. Take notes on what you hear. Make a mental note of what these songs sound like through your monitors.
Oftentimes, we get so caught up in trying to make our mixes sound great that we forget to remind ourselves what good mixes sound like through our monitors. Regularly listening to professionally-produced material will help combat this.
Report back here and leave a comment below. Let us know what you learned.