This one surprised me.

Since I work out of a home studio, and since I’m a daddy (of a 2-year-old boy and soon-to-arrive twin girls…man, I never get used to saying that), I have to coordinate my recording and mixing schedule around nap times.

Owen naps every day at 1pm. That means I do most of my recording and mixing in the mornings, when I can be loud and not wake up a sleeping kid (and evoke the wrath of an over-tired 2-year-old).

It works nicely.

I work on studio stuff in the mornings, and I work on HSC-related stuff in the afternoons. (Hopefully at our next house I’ll have some separation and isolation, so I can work in the studio any time.)

Well, the other day I was waiting on a photographer to arrive for an afternoon appointment. He was coming to take some shots of my studio for some sort of new ad campaign. (Not sure if I can say anything more than that.)

He could only come in the afternoon, which is fine. While I waited for him, I pulled up a mix that I needed to work on. (He needed shots of me working, so I figured I’d go ahead and start working until he got there.)

As you may recall, it was nap-time, so I couldn’t really turn up the speakers very loudly. So I had them nice and quiet, well below my normal listening level.

And it felt ODD.

I kept wanting to turn it up, then I remembered Owen was sleeping (and I didn’t want to mix on headphones).

So I maintained the low volume.

At first I thought it would be an exercise in futility. Heck, I can’t even REALLY hear things that well. How am I supposed to make EQ and compression decisions?

As it turns out, I could make them JUST fine.

In fact, the mix came together surprisingly well.

Like…really well.

Being forced to listen more carefully made me work for it more. I had to listen more critically, because the mix was at such a lower volume.

And somehow the mix just started to SING.

When Owen woke up from his nap (not my fault), I cranked the speakers, fully expecting there to be way too much low end or too much harshness in the upper mids.


It still rocked!

So that’s your homework assignment today.

Pull up a mix and don’t allow yourself to turn the speakers up very loud at all. It’s pretty amazing what can happen.

But it takes discipline.

What’s that?

You don’t have any tracks to work on?

Well, there’s a great set of tracks waiting for you inside Dueling Mixes, if you’re interested. Grab ’em here:

…and let me know how your Naptime Mix Session goes.

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner