Recording - May 2013 - 60

An unbiased listening environment is a critical element in audio production.
In order to confidently make important balance and tonality decisions, engineers need to know that what they are hearing effectively translates to
other real-world listening locations. This notion lies at the heart of studio
monitor and control room acoustic design. “Flatness” is the stated goal, and
an ideal mix space is completely neutral, with a flat frequency response that
in no way prejudices engineering decisions.

one location only will inherently be influenced
by the surrounding acoustics. This is especially
true in the low end, where room-mode issues
can cause level variations for specific frequencies in the tens of dB.
While acoustic-design solutions are expensive and complicated, a cheap and proven
solution exists: move around the room. That’s
right, get off your butt! Stand up, slide your
chair back, lie on the floor, stand on a chair,
whatever, just move around. The modest act of
listening from multiple locations provides your
brain with differing statistical samples, helping
you make critical decisions without blinders on.
Moving around the room provides another
key advantage—a change in perspective. It’s
easy to give yourself tunnel vision in the sweet
spot. With things sounding so good between
the speakers, one can convince oneself that
everything is perfect. This can bring about “mix
love,” the misleading belief that your work in
progress is awesome and without error.
Perspective changes are the best prevention for
mix love, and listening from another position
will frequently alert you to a laundry list of problems waiting to be addressed.
My favorite approach in tackling my own
mix love is to listen from just outside the control
room door. This typically reveals that I have set
the kick and snare too loud in the mix. This is
By Eric Ferguson

Chapter 16: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
(Overcoming Your Studio)
Of course, a flat room is nearly impossible to achieve, and for the last five
months this column has investigated monitor and control-room issues, pointing out repeatedly the conundrums and compromises inherent in these
imperfect beasts. The simple truth is that unless you possess a ton of money
to build a room from the ground up and consult with an expert on treatment,
your sweet spot will probably not be flat. Thus most of us must settle for
imperfect workspaces chock-full of standing waves, reflections, comb filtering, and less-than-ideal loudspeakers. It is a reality that most mixes are created in misleading environments. Mix decisions will be biased.
So how does one overcome debilitating acoustic conditions? Can good mixes
be made in a home or project studio? Can a recording made in an untreated
control room compete with one produced in a million-dollar super studio? Yes,
yes, yes! There is hope for the rest of us. The following nine tips are time-proven
mix tactics. Whether you are mixing in a bedroom, closet, garage, dorm room,
or pro facility, these methods will help you overcome your studio and produce
content that translates to the outside world.
Tip one: Bust a move
When mixing, the tendency for most of us is to spend the majority of our time
parked in the sweet spot. This makes sense, as the listening position between the
loudspeakers provides the best high-frequency clarity, stereo imaging, and leftright summation. Unfortunately, sweet spots can be misleading. In all but the best
of rooms, frequency response varies from inch to inch, and decisions made from
60

RECORDING May 2013

understandable, as these instruments are exciting and easy to overemphasize while you’re in
the protective womb of the sweet spot. Thus,
after a brief outside-the-door listen, I typically
must attenuate drum levels by a few dB. This
has the upside of carving out a happier home
for lead vocals or other important instruments.
Tip two: Multiple monitors
Just as important as moving around the room
is the use of multiple monitors. No one mix technique is more important, as all loudspeakers
sound different and the general public listens to
music on so many dissimilar devices. This is
why most professional studios typically offer at
least three monitoring options. The largest are
the mains, which are often three-way soffitmounted beasts that can play back at stun level
and provide the perspective of what a mix
sounds like on a big PA system or in a dance
club. At the other end of the spectrum are the
minis, which are commonly one-way and limited in frequency response. Minis are used to
provide the TV or clock-radio listening experience. In between these two approaches lie midsized nearfield monitors, which are what most
engineers use for the bulk of their mixing work.



Recording - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2013

Recording - May 2013
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Readers' Tapes
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Intro
Recording - May 2013 - Recording - May 2013
Recording - May 2013 - Cover2
Recording - May 2013 - 1
Recording - May 2013 - 2
Recording - May 2013 - 3
Recording - May 2013 - Fade In
Recording - May 2013 - 5
Recording - May 2013 - Contents
Recording - May 2013 - 7
Recording - May 2013 - Talkback
Recording - May 2013 - 9
Recording - May 2013 - Fast Forward
Recording - May 2013 - 11
Recording - May 2013 - 12
Recording - May 2013 - 13
Recording - May 2013 - Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Recording - May 2013 - 15
Recording - May 2013 - 16
Recording - May 2013 - 17
Recording - May 2013 - Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
Recording - May 2013 - 19
Recording - May 2013 - PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
Recording - May 2013 - 21
Recording - May 2013 - 22
Recording - May 2013 - 23
Recording - May 2013 - How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Recording - May 2013 - 25
Recording - May 2013 - 26
Recording - May 2013 - 27
Recording - May 2013 - 28
Recording - May 2013 - 29
Recording - May 2013 - 30
Recording - May 2013 - 31
Recording - May 2013 - 32
Recording - May 2013 - 33
Recording - May 2013 - Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 35
Recording - May 2013 - 36
Recording - May 2013 - 37
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Recording - May 2013 - 39
Recording - May 2013 - Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
Recording - May 2013 - 41
Recording - May 2013 - DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Recording - May 2013 - 43
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Recording - May 2013 - 45
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Recording - May 2013 - 47
Recording - May 2013 - 48
Recording - May 2013 - 49
Recording - May 2013 - Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 51
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Recording - May 2013 - 53
Recording - May 2013 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - May 2013 - 55
Recording - May 2013 - 56
Recording - May 2013 - 57
Recording - May 2013 - 58
Recording - May 2013 - 59
Recording - May 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
Recording - May 2013 - 61
Recording - May 2013 - 62
Recording - May 2013 - 63
Recording - May 2013 - CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Recording - May 2013 - Advertiser Index
Recording - May 2013 - 66
Recording - May 2013 - 67
Recording - May 2013 - 68
Recording - May 2013 - 69
Recording - May 2013 - 70
Recording - May 2013 - 71
Recording - May 2013 - Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Cover3
Recording - May 2013 - Cover4
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