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Mix at very low volume

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Brett - K A L I S I A, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Brett - K A L I S I A

    Brett - K A L I S I A Dreaded Moderator

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    So I have decided that I should work really hard to be able to do this, because listening to (even moderately) loud music all day long, almost every day of the week is not doing great things to my ears and hearing in the long (and even medium) run.

    Do you guys do it? Are there any tips?

    I have seen Trina Shoemaker explaining that she visualizes a very tiny band, with a very tiny drumkit, and a very tiny guitar amp, on the meter bridge, and imagining this very tiny band is playing VERY loud (for their size) instead of a normal size band playing very low does really help.

    Andy Wallace is also famous for mixing at very very low volumes.
     
  2. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    I mix very low all the time. People who visit constantly ask me to turn it up ...

    It works great.
     
  3. Lon

    Lon smash that.

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    check back at louder volumes from time to time.

    I mix barely above room noise, but i tend to exaggerate elements of the mix when silent (like too much compression because i interpret missing volume as missing punch) or too much bite in guitartones, but every big move i check back loud (not really loud just to get some air moving), correct everything and then commit to what i've heard.
     
  4. miche

    miche Member

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    Same here. I can't hear anything when the volume is too loud. It is like everything sounds so big and so good. But I hear subtle differences when the level is much lower.

    It is funny you are starting this thread, I was wondering if I shouldn't start mixing louder and getting used to it.

    I still wonder if that's a question of habit, or if it is more a constitution thing like being left or right handed.

    Do you really mix so loud you think you are damaging your hearing?
     
  5. Brett - K A L I S I A

    Brett - K A L I S I A Dreaded Moderator

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    Well actually it's more a matter of mixing for long periods of time at moderate levels, which is as damaging as mixing very loud for a very short period of time.
     
  6. Lon

    Lon smash that.

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    we should define what is considered "loud", for example a usual office has a noisefloor of 75-80dB, i never mix louder (maybe going for 90-92dB to check for 1-2 minutes), as far as i know this should not leave any permanent damage to the ears.
     
  7. Brett - K A L I S I A

    Brett - K A L I S I A Dreaded Moderator

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    I would love to be able to work most of the time at around 60db (C weighted) but seriously, I find this very un-exciting and boring...
     
  8. Lon

    Lon smash that.

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    Sometimes volume is a necessary part of the sound, for example for years i did not understand why people hail the "plexi" sound, i always found it bland and boring, but if you crank it up to "loud" it suddenly reveals itself to your why its really a great sound
     
  9. koalamo

    koalamo Member

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    I often check my mixes at very quite volumes and reference them to commercial releases at the same volume. You can really tell what elements of the mix are the loudest at low volumes. For example you can hear if the kick is jumping out or the snares too loud and then reference it to a pro mix and hear how they balance everything.

    Just my two cents.
     
  10. Ngoc

    Ngoc Member

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    I have the same feeling. Is it actually possible to get a very quiet mix which is still exciting at the same volume, or is it pretty normal, that it sounds boring? Because somehow on low volumes I don't hear pretty much the impact, when a new part for example the chorus begins... somehow everything sounds the same (sonically), even with automation. But when you raise the volume, the impact is there and with it the excitment..... :D
     
  11. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    I change the volume constantly. I feel this way I get different bits of information that you can't get from sticking to a certain loudness. Most of the time I listen to the mix at what I consider moderate volume but I check how it sounds at lower/higher volume all the time, almost without noticing I'm doing it.
     
  12. Mikaël-ange

    Mikaël-ange Member

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    I mix at what I consider low volume. Never do a measurement but for give an idea you can hear when you text on keyboard while listening.
    You can also hear the 96I/O fan:cry::lol:

    Didn't know for Andy Wallace but CLA/TLA do it all the time. As Ryan Williams and many, many more.

    The trick: If the mix hit you at low volume, you nailed it;)
     
  13. Sweetnothing

    Sweetnothing ¯\(º_o)/¯

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    I always get panning and levels on a mix with a very low volume, I can even hear the macpro's fan.

    Only get a little louder to check low end and when setting effect return levels ( in that case I might go headphones too)
     
  14. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    I'm not sure what level I actually mix at, but 90% of the time I can hear the fans in my CPU and the 192s. I find if you can make something sound exciting at low volumes, it'll be amazing at higher volumes.
     
  15. Mikaël-ange

    Mikaël-ange Member

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    This
     
  16. Skinny Viking

    Skinny Viking ¯\(°_o)/¯ How do Lydian?

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    I always mix and make my mix decisions at pretty low volume ... as others have said, I can hear the fan in my pc or the phone ring in the next room. I find it actually helps get the core of a song together quicker with better overall balance ... ie - drums, rhythms & bass, especially the bass. If I can hear the bass pretty good without being overbearing against the other instruments at a low volume, chances are its sounding pretty good when I crank the speakers

    Of course I'll occasionally listen back after several changes / choices at a higher volume just to check and see if I'm close to where I want it all to be but yeah, 90% of the time its pretty quiet work I do
     
  17. Brett - K A L I S I A

    Brett - K A L I S I A Dreaded Moderator

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    But how do you guys not get bored? lol
     
  18. Sloan

    Sloan Sounds like shit!

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    I do most of my mixing at 'casual listening' volume, intermittently bringing up the volume to work my monitors and see if the low end is shitting everywhere or not. In general, if the mix sounds great quiet, it will totally kill cranked up. Having everything cranked will fatigue ears really fast, and I notice that if I spend hours on something, the volume creeps up until my ears are no longer trustworthy, so I have to stop and get back to it later.
     
  19. [UEAK]Clowd

    [UEAK]Clowd Member

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    how do you guys get the low-end right at really low volumes? i can't hear jack shit in the lows when its not decently cranked
     
  20. BLUElightCory

    BLUElightCory Member

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    I was going to weigh in on this as well.

    It's good to mix at low volume in many situations, it helps relieve ear fatigue and it can help with getting certain elements of the mix in check.

    That said, our hearing is extremely insensitive in regards to hearing low frequencies (and very high frequencies) at low volumes - that is, at low volumes we just can't hear the lower frequencies very well at all in comparison to midrange frequencies. So it's always a good idea to turn things up every now and then to get a more accurate reading on where the low-frequency elements of the mix stand, lest we end up with an excess of low end in the final mix.
     

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