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Chapter 4: From Subjective Impressions To Objective Results

AUDIO FILES (To download all WAV examples at once: 5MB ZIP)

  • Effects Of Monitoring Volume: If you don't check how your work sounds at a selection of appropriate monitoring volumes, then your mix's overall tonality is more likely to be skewed on account of your ear's level-dependent frequency sensitivity, as in these examples of real-world home-studio mixes submitted to Mix Rescue: a mix monitored too loud (Ex04.01:WAV/MP3 bp) and a mix monitored too quiet (Ex04.02:WAV/MP3 bp).


  • Affordable Stereo Monitor Controllers: As mentioned in the book, a dedicated monitor controller is an excellent purchase for the small studio, and for mixing purposes I'd recommend a model with the following features: three independently switchable monitoring outputs (for your nearfields, Auratone-substitute, and grotboxes); a headphone socket; and a mono switch. Here are a couple of options which fit this spec at a reasonable price: SPL's MTC 2381 (which I use myself); Mackie's Big Knob (just count those double entendres!). There's also the SM Pro Audio MPatch 2.1, which is a passive device (which helps with audio quality but doesn't allow for any gain though the system, of course). The Samson C-Control is very cheap, and offers a lot of functions, but I personally remain unconvinced of its build quality and ease of repair -- an important consideration given that the pots and switches of a monitor controller inevitably get a lot of wear.

  • Automatic Loudness-matching Plug-in: Adjusting the levels of different reference tracks to match your mix in progress can be a chore, but there is an affordable plug-in from Klangfreund that can help by analysing the tracks during playback and adjusting the channel gains automatically: LUFS MeterMac LogoWindows Logo. It's very easy to work, and I use it all the time these days.


  • Suggestions For Reference Material: The Honor Roll of Dynamic Recordings, from the Digital Domain web site of Bob Katz. Some suggestions from Sound On Sound Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns. An interesting list at Vestman Mastering. For further ideas, check out the Sound On Sound and Gearslutz forums and the newsgroup. Here are a few example threads to get you started: SOS1, SOS2, SOS3, GS1, GS2, RAP1

  • Using A Reference Monitoring Level: Some engineers argue for setting up a constant reference monitoring level using a sound-pressure-level meter. Although I remain to be convinced of the value of this approach myself, here's a good Sound On Sound magazine article about it if you want to experiment with the idea further.

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