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Work with Audio headset or speakers ?

posted on #1
Posts: 22
Joined: 11.05.15
This is certainly my first posted subject.
Lack of knowledge in English usually makes me mute. I will try to make myself understand with the translator.
The instrument I use is not the most noisy or cumbersome.
When I work at home, I do not disturb my neighbors with noises. I work on Wikiloops with an excellent headphone AKG. All my tracks are made and mixed through my headphones.
When I want to add to a track, I always have the idea of ​​creating a whole "ensemble" with the other musicians already on the track, and giving the illusion that we are all in the same room for I like to play. I aspire to this in my product.
My subject of this day therefore concerns two typos of approach on the additions.

I have found that many musicians work on the speakers during their additions. The product thus issued and put online.
If I load this track in my turn and I listen to it in my headphones, I realize that the last musician overwhelms all others at the volume level. I must therefore act on the level of the equalizer so that each occupies a more audible and reasoned place.
It's not a big job, but it seems to me that listening with Headphones to the track before posting it would be a good idea, , And would raise the standard of our common work.
I do not target anyone in particular, and just want to talk about a simple idea.
I thank you all for continuing to share :)
Edited by titi on 27-01-2017 14:21
posted on #2
Posts: 2085
Joined: 30.12.10
Hey titi,
I think the phenomenon you are describing is not the result of using headphones or monitor speakers.
I would rather say it happens, because people do not focus on the "does the band sound as if it was in one room" aspect the way you do.
Recording beginners who see themselves as musicians will put the focus on "how am I playing, and are all my fancy notes easy to be heard", while someone with recording experience will act more like you do and focus on the overall sound when doing a mixdown.

I have often given beginners the following advice to get a feeling for this issue:
when you think you are done with a mix, lower your own tracks volume by -4dB and listen again.
Most of the time you will notice your instrument is still loud enough so it can be heard well in the mix, while all other instruments will be heard much better than before.

Mixing and playing an instrument are two very different hobbys, and each has its own apporach. Doing both one after another really does require to switch from "musician mode" to "mixer mode", and that is not so easy at first :)
"Sorry - had to do it!" - Les Claypool

yes, you are looking at the administrators signature.
posted on #3
Posts: 26
Joined: 09.11.16
I record using a set of Shure "studio" headphones (Not high-end, but got decent sound). My issue with that is that it supports frequencies out of the scope of what regular playback equipment does. Typically i would hear my bass as being overpowering in those headphones, and later on listening through some "standard" speakers or headphones it turns out being a bit too low!

Still, i live in a small apartment with a little kid, and i need to be able to record my music without too much noise. So i have to keep this in mind when recording and mixing. Then i often try my mix on my crappy stereo in my living room, if it sounds decent there i'm good to go ;) If you're going to do it the pro way i think i would recommend some studio monitors, but for my use i'm fine with my headphones :)
posted on #4
Posts: 59
Joined: 21.11.15
Very good thread Titi! eGil raises an excellent point which I think does affect bass players particularly: there is a very wide range of bass response from different speakers. My PC speakers and gaming headsets are very bass-heavy whereas my studio headphones and hi-fi speakers are far flatter. When I listen back to some of my early mixes on the hi-fi I think I actually mixed the bass too far back for most systems.

I'll tend to do most of the mixing on speakers, just to save my ears, but then do a check using my studio headphones. I think it's also useful to do a final check after you've exported to mp3 since this often seems to alter the balance a little to my ears.

Having said all that, I think the HD mix format solves a lot of problems and it would be great if more people would use this. Now that I've started using this I tend to err on the side of mixing the bass a little too loud but I'll supply a solo bass track so that anyone who wants to do a remix can adjust as they see appropriate. :)
Edited by GrooveEnth on 27-01-2017 17:58
posted on #5
Posts: 22
Joined: 11.05.15
Hi Dick
Yes I agree with you regarding the approach in the use and recording of loops. Your advice to lower 4db sound volume and really wise for that matter.
This difference that you emphasize is verified very much indeed, but there are also musicians who are not (or more) beginners who do not give a sufficient ear on the final product.
I do not want to appear for the painful guy, and far from me this idea ... But I believe that the notion of sharing that characterizes Wikiloops can take several aspects.
Sometimes I have the frustration of joining me to really wonderful tracks but that could be even more with a little more attention.
I am not an example of sound and mix but keep the worry of being fair in my notes and my construction.
Reading the explanations of eGil, it also seems obvious that depending on the instrument, the material used, and the surrounding environment, it is not obvious to control the process from A to Z and understands the explanations Exposes us.
I am afraid of having opened a subject or debate that will be different for many, but wishes that the notion of sharing on beautiful technical constructions in the broad sense is always in the minds :)
Edited by titi on 27-01-2017 18:54
posted on #6
Posts: 293
Joined: 25.11.13
Very much in agreement with Dick in what he said. Mind you I suck at mixing. The player/mixer's point of view is most important when mixing, yet also needs to be considered when playing. The harmonica, sax, vocals, brass or other "one note at a time" instruments can easily stand out as soloists. If your intention is to play "back" with the band, then you need to play as a backing instrument as well as mix your part so that it's in the band and not out in front. Paying attention to the amount of reverb and delay and matching the sound of the rest of the backing also can move you forward or back in the mix.

I agree with what the bass players are saying and think it's harder for them to get it right, especially since some styles demand a strong bass even though the bass is playing rhythm/backing. Also as said the sound system tends to make a big difference with many systems boosting bass. Not sure if mixers sold here in New Zealand also used everywhere else. One of the popular desks has a "car stereo" function which plays through speakers that are similar to most car stereos. The thinking is that most music is listened to in a car, so it's a good idea to mix for what sounds good in that situation.
posted on #7
Posts: 59
Joined: 21.11.15
> The thinking is that most music is listened to in a car, so it's a good idea to mix for what sounds good in that situation.

My wife bought me David Byrne's "How Music Works" for Christmas. It's an excellent read and one of the points he makes is that much of music is a response to the environment in which it's listened to. E.g. medieval choral music has long notes and avoids key changes because it was invariably listened to in Cathedrals with huge reverb times; a key change would simply have resulted in a dissonant dirge. Anyway, he also identifies cars as being a new kind of listening environment and makes a good case that modern rap/hip-hop is a genre that has been 'designed' to fit this sonic space.

Sorry - slightly off-topic but I thought it was interesting. :)
posted on #8
Posts: 18
Joined: 03.09.15
Yeah for bass players it is hardest since in proper mix settings you loose some details that's part of the game so bass players that strugle with that issue,should best upload HD tracks for follow up players to remix :)
posted on #9
Posts: 15
Joined: 23.07.13
I usually use headphones to play and to mix the tracks, my neighbors and my family thanks him, but my ears maybe not in the future .... there are people who smoke and destroy the lungs, people who drink and do the same with your liver and musicians in general sooner or later expose the ears to a risk, either in the direct or the headphones, but this is getting out of the subject ....

After hundreds of tracks recorded on this website I must say that sometimes I spend more time mixing the sounds and tracks with other musicians than the recording of the instrument itself. In my showcase I explain how I have advanced the technique of recording more or less self-taught until I find a balance that satisfies me

Each instrument requires a special mix, in the case of bass it is especially difficult to get a good sound and not to pass or stay short in the signal, sometimes saturates the signal and sometimes gets too low in the final mix without defining the notes. In the specific case of the bass as well as equalize the best possible musical style, then make a second digital equalization to define the best possible notes in mid or low tones according to the musical style. I use the headphones that give a better perception in the final mix and then I check it in a decent system of music, usually the sound system of my car when I go to work, and so I am perfecting the mixes to be heard by other musicians

To summarize my idea on this topic of the forum:
1. when recording try not to saturate the signal
2 reduce the overall volume to balance your track with the rest of musicians, this step perhaps better with headphones in my opinion
3. check the final result on an audio monitor, but this is difficult because the final result depends a lot on whether you hear on an MP3 repoductor, a hifi system, a car audio system etc.

The headphones the best to mix in my opinion, and desirable if you live with people who do not love music as much as you :)
posted on #10
Posts: 15
Joined: 23.07.13
To reaffirm my opinion, in the direct of musicians and in the professional studio recordings are often used systems of balanced headphones for each musician where they listen to his instrument and the rest of the musicians mixed by the technician of sound in his own ear and tympanos ....
posted on #11
Posts: 22
Joined: 11.05.15
I did not think this subject was so interesting in its development.
It is really constructive to approach this subject with all our differences of musicians.
The idea that this aspect of recording is a thing that is much more important for a bass player than for a soloist seems obvious.
A lot of bass player as well as drummer also produce a lot of template.
In this particular case, it is up to the other musicians to settle on this original basis. On this example, the thing is simple because this base is immutable.
A soloist does not have much choice. Either there is a hollow in which it can be expressed, or it plays rhythmically, or it takes everything.
GrooveEnth has an approach that makes sense in its purpose because it thinks of offering more HD track to offer more flexibility to the following.
Personally, I am not favorable (by personnal choice) as a soloist to realize all my HD tracks ...
This idea for some instruments is still interesting.
posted on #12
Posts: 340
Joined: 27.02.15
It's a tough area which I'm constantly learning more about. Dick is absolutely right: the skill seems to be in appreciating your hard work in the performance being heard versus where you belong and not dominating the track! It's a tough call and there's so many aspects to it and, based on the title of this thread, made much harder by the medium you're mixing with! I try to work on the principle of finding that mix sweet spot where I 'blend in'. Often with drums (I can't speak for other instruments), I find that the subtle stuff - ghost notes, little inflections, etc. - actually work better when you can barely hear them: the point where you'd notice them only if they were removed! That's how I try to mix but I'm by no means any expert on the matter. But finding that mix sweet spot where what you add is quite literally 'implied' rather than obvious is a surprising revelation when it comes to adding to the feel of a track.

With regard to the thread title, I mix with either a somewhat average speaker system enhanced by a Celestion 2x12" bass enhancement driver, a pair of Sennheiser, noise-isolating in-ear headphones (when mixing late at night) and a pair of splendid Sennheiser over-ear wireless headphones which are just brilliant but don't belong to me! The latter is my preferred mixing medium as the frequency response is flattest. My speakers lack mid and, especially, top-end clarity; my in-ears have a lot of bass punch. It's always the case that when you hear your mix on a different set of speakers or headphones you think it sounds all rubbish. I do, at least!

It's just a case of learning how what you use for mixing colours the sound. If I mix on my in-ears, I find my mixes through speakers lack bass punch. When mixing through my speakers, the sound has too much mid-range and sounds tinny. On the Sennheiser headphones is where I get the best mix across differen speakers. So, on my in-ears, I mix the sound over bass-heavy to compensate for the artificial enhancement they give.

Can't win. It's practice. It's learning how your set-up colours the sound spectrum. It's a full-time job!!!

Edited by mpointon on 28-01-2017 01:29
posted on #13
Posts: 246
Joined: 19.08.13
When I look at my monitor speakers I got tears in my ears that I can not use them like it should be! The main topic is: listen and walk through the room. Just don't sit in your perfect Y-spot.
I am forced to use headphones since some years because I lost much money and more. :)

Working with brilliant headphones is very fine for a good mono mix of several tracks because EQing is best checked. In most cases you'll miss the perfect volumes relation and panning.
So my workflow these days is: headphones-speakers-headphones-YOUR headphones.

I follow the philosophy: "you can fill an empty glass only".

The last one has to do the last things.
Don't try to be perfect in an early stage.
Don't blame me, I use reverb etc. too early to get thumbs and feedback.
You need courage to sound as poor as it should be in the overall context with a great singer...

4 years ago I couldn't imagine that a sequential workflow could ever work like it does with a modern DAW!
Just let some EQ, compression and reverb for the final mix.
Don't fill the glass of wine to the top.
If you work with earphones give your ears 24 hours of silence every 7 days.
Edited by Neronick on 28-01-2017 08:56
Was born in an analog world.
posted on #14
Posts: 6
Joined: 15.11.14
Hey. I agree with most of what's been said, but one of the things I've learned through practice and feedback is in panning. To be centered also seems to squash others at times, so I was coached to pan out to around 30 for my bass and initially only did one side, but I have since adapted l + r sides which offers some obvious balance, but while being out of center and not (hopefully) squashing others.
On the topic of headphones, I was coached by the same guy, to always check through multiple sets of speakers / headphones. I've heard dreadful differences like you mentioned, but going back and listening and editing over several sets before uploading helps tremendously as well.
Like I tell the wife, "see, I do listen" ;-)
"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." Diane Ackerman
posted on #15
Posts: 18
Joined: 03.09.15
About panning bass I learned it is considered bad practice in mixing land :) bas is considered a centered (mono) instrument and likes to be mixed in by eq, create a freq tunnel in your spectrum say around 150 hz in the backing track and boost your bass in that same spectrum, use quite some compression on the single bass to keep it in line and then blend in below vocals and snare or guitars
I hear that on the loopers who make great mixes

Old mixes used to pan bass 100% sideways but drums were then 100% on the other side that worked nice but it gives a specific sound, but nowadays bass is centered most of the time.

not that I am a propper mixer but I do believe this method is proven to do the trick :)

Then again it is all a matter of how that bass works with the music is it a centerpiece or supporting the track :)

Mixing is quite difficult often I am unhappy with my mixing guess you never stop learning :D
Edited by frenzie on 28-01-2017 10:11
posted on #16
Posts: 1
Joined: 28.12.16
Mixing is an art in and of itself. Mixing live and recorded are two totally different animals. Mixing is a practiced skill just as in playing an instrument. For myself it has taught me to be humbled in my playing. I would rather play a part that is buried but "fills the gap" and enhances the whole piece rather than do a lead thats all out front.

There are so many supposed contradictions in mixing it will boggle the mind, and I find there is no exact "right or wrong". Different songs, compositions require different mixing techniques. I'm no expert, have spent unknown hours watching videos, reading tutorials, articles and have struggled with some songs. Have learned a few things but have more to learn.
The one thing I did find is that my mixing suffered greatly without the use of monitors. I did what I could afford and got a pair of powered monitors and it made a world of difference for me. But even then the mix is not "perfect", can still be what I call tainted on different sound systems. Best bet is play a produced recording (store bought CD) of a song that is close to the sound of what you are working on and listen through your monitors/headphones. Use that as a reference point to point you towards the mix. You can apply this exercise for mixing on PC speakers of headphones also. Some other things I have picked up along the way:

Irony...bassists and guitarists spend HOURS tweaking their knobs and FX for that perfect sound out of their rig. We judge the sound by it's quality standing 6-10 feet away from the amp. But when you go to a gig or to record... you run a direct line or put the mic right up against the speaker.

A slight tiny bit of distortion on the bass can help to makes it cut through the mix better. I've actually done that with different sounds besides bass.

+1 Nickboy, I only use delay on tracks, reverb is for "room" effect on the master out. And none of those rooms are "Halls".

I am constantly looking over different VST's for the DAW. So glad I started using mid-side processors.
I also lean towards simple vst's, and start out using alot of presets until I learn how it can help or hurt the sound.

I have learned that EQ can be a life saver. Learning to be good at using an EQ can also be an artform. Many times a simple 3 band EQ can make quite a bit of difference in adjusting a sounds quality.

Many times I have to actually change the parts I play so that the instruments and mix doesn't clash. This can very easily happen with piano and bass. the low tones of the piano will clash with the bass notes and make things sound muddy.

Adjusting mono, stereo, mid/side, stereo width differently across each instruments will change how each track interacts with the next, and if done properly will enhance the entire mix, rounding and smoothing things out. Ass far as panning I never go more than 8-10% either way for any track.

Doesn't hurt to put FX on master track. I use a light reverb at start of chain to add a little sparkle and life, but not always. Then I use a vst called a mastering strip, basically for convenience. Then a simple stereo processor and finally a limiter.
And of course the chain can and will change, never always the same thing exactly.

Sorry for being so long winded.
Edited by JohnG. on 28-01-2017 21:28
posted on #17
Posts: 10
Joined: 30.01.16
Hi, I'm a bass player and I have 2 pair of speakers on my PC HiFi amplifier. One is a 200W EV 15"+horn and the other a small JBL monitor. I also have a headphone and a big bass amp. I work in a cellar home studio so I can't trouble the neighbors. At a recording I play the bass system with full volume and listen to the music via the EV speakers. That gives me a real live feeling and I am happy that I can do so. For mixing I use the headphone and the JBL monitors with normal volume.

I agree with frenzie, mixing is quite difficult and the result sounds different on every system, especially in bass frequencies.

But the main thing is that it is FUN!! :D
Edited by Woodstock on 29-01-2017 23:16
posted on #18
Posts: 28
Joined: 04.07.14
I got a simple avice long ago, so simple that I sometimes forget it too... But it was that when in doubt of a mix you turn it way down low on your speakers untill you barely hear it. Then listen if the singer or soloist still are 'on top/in front' in the mix.
On the frequencie-spectrum I agree that you can create that tunnel if you low-cut some of the melody and soloparts that don't need that low end you can create some more space by letting it down below around 150Hz just move it up and stop before you hear it compromises the sound of the instrument or voice.
And I also agree that you should listen to good sounding recordings that you know well and get to know how they sound on your dry amd uncoloured system. My vision is to try and get a balanced sound while you listen to your mix. That way it should sound also decently balanced on most systems. If needed you could focus in the mastering stage on mixing towards little speakers, car- or mp3-systems.
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