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  #1  
Old 06-01-2010, 07:22 AM
DJ Hellfire DJ Hellfire is offline
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Question DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

Here's a little debate I had with a guy on the MPC forums a while back that I would rather hear from actual professionals on, not just from the bedroom beat makers. Now I heard of the whole using other speakers outside of the studio to check your mixes and the idea is to make sure they sound good on everything, but by everything, it makes sense that that would mean actual quality or at least decent audio equipment. For example, I'm not gonna play my chit back on my laptop speakers or my clock radio and actually make changes to my mixes based on that judgment. I would use something like a car or home theather or a hifi stereo setup, or maybe even some good headphones. But I wouldn't dare make a change to a mix based on down right crappy speakers or some $17 walmart monitors like the guy in this following thread advises. They only way I would even consider doing something like that is by comparing my mix to an actual retail released known good mix on those crappy speakers. But even still, to me, that's a stretch. My point is why/how try to make your mix sound good on speakers that don't sound good period and make judgment calls based on it? Am I wrong on this at all?

http://www.mpc-forums.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=106617
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  #2  
Old 06-01-2010, 12:40 PM
ondruspat ondruspat is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

In my opinion there is some argument for it.

When a mix is filtered through a lower end consumer grade speaker your going to hear different things in that mix. These days mixing for laptop speakers is not unheard of so why not put your mixes through the best and the worst playback situations.

One guy I know has a single old car speaker set in the middle of his three sets of monitors and he always runs a check of his mixes through that (in mono) along with his others. He feels that a mix should sound good on any possible system, and if it sounds good on the car speaker it usually sounds awesome on the good monitors.
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:45 PM
btdub btdub is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

I think it would depend on the magnitutde of the change you might be talking about. If, after hearing it on crappy speakers,for instance, the bass is making those $20 Altec Lansings rattle and woof, then I might consider reshaping the bass, or turning it down. But, if I can't hear that atmospheric synth wash that is very light in the mix to begin with, I wouldn't worry about it. Bad speakers can sometimes make slight blemishes in the mix WAY too prominent, leading you to believe they are worse than they are. I think if it's a major element, reconsider. If it's a minor element, I would put more value in what those $1,000 a pair speakers say than the li'l ones. Just my 2 cents...

EDIT: Then again, most folks will be listening to your music through crappy earbuds and even worse desktop speakers. I think that has a (negative) impact on what goes on, but you need to be mindful of it.
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:11 PM
flommer flommer is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

If you don't listen on those other systems then you really don't know what is going to happen to your mix on them.

I would say you are mostly looking for glaring "errors" that can be compensated for (maybe as a compromise), but you are not mixing "for" those LQ situations..

It is very similar to listening in mono... If you don't at least check it out then you really don't know if something funky is going on..

This is why these are made..

Also, you will often see a boombox sitting on top of the mix desk in big $ studios, same reason...

Some advice i read along the same thinking is to listen to your mix while lying on the couch at the back of your mix room (you do have a couch there don't you?). Also, crank it up and walk out of the room. Really good mixes will still sound pretty balanced even though the listening environment is whacked.. That's why those guys (you know who I mean) make the big bucks...
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:28 PM
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DrFord DrFord is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

First and foremost, the crappy speaker in mono test is incredibly important. It is so important that many of the most used large format consoles come with a crappy mono speaker built in! Nowadays they don't, but MANY did throughout the 60's-80's. What is most important on the mono test is that you aren't getting cancellation of material in your programme, when sumed to mono. If you are, then you need to apply some minor type of modulation or fix phase coherence using a phase switch usually found on the stock 1 band digirack EQ.

Secondly, the point is to make sure that the Vocals sit above the mix, are clear and not lost on this crappy speaker. Because for Pop music, the most important thing to any consumer is the vocal. I know we want to think our 12 hours of editing pan automation on the shaker is important, but it isn't.

The reality is that people are listening to music on "speaker" through their Blackberries, iPhones, and any other number of devices, which usually don't have great D/A converters anyways (Zoom for example) and then are playing back in perceived mono, because although they have stereo speaker output, the speakers are so close together and so light on power, most devices either sum to mono and then put out dual summed mono signal to make it seem louder, or can have the effect of a mono summed mix because of the tight placement of the device causing phase cancellation.

To not check your mix on a crap speaker is irresponsible for a mixer. Laptop speakers are a standard listening format for today's audience, just as a mono crap speaker in a beat up old truck was the standard during the 80's. Furthermore, you should convert any final mixes to an MP3 below 100khz compression (though 192 is the standard for internet mix downs as it is the "least artifact-y") to see what they are going to sound like when Myspace converts them to its sub par format.

I enjoy youtube for that reason, what is uploaded is what remains.

Checking your mix on high end gear is pointless as things are Enhanced, EQ'd and in the case of Bose, acoustically treated before hitting your ears, and actually is a really bad representation of your final product. Especially because you should always cater to the masses, not the elite audience who can afford bose. Go buy the $40 computer speaker with subwoofer and use that as a B speaker.
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  #6  
Old 06-01-2010, 02:27 PM
elicious elicious is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

the man who created the role of modern mixer, bob clearmountain,
famously (or in ) made rock stars out of the fab cripe ns-10's
when it was revealed he checked all his mixes on these.
(albeit with the equally fab "toilet paper on the tweeters")

at the time,
working my day gig at snooty audiophile salons
we were shocked
cuz, natch, the only "real" speakers came from this country or the u.k.

but he wanted to know how his target audience,
teenage doodz listening in their bedrooms,
would be hearing his work.

and, of course, one listen to "avalon" speaks volumes...

and it seemed, within 6 months of his comments, every studio had bought and installed a pair.
(created quite a market too,
originally those spkrs could be had for less than a bill apiece...
i hope yamaha gave him stock!)

a decade earlier, the top selling band of the era was reo speedwagon
who stated they mixed their fm epics through li'l auratones.
so, this goes way back.

after driving home, blasting my car and the neighbors,
i still check mixes through my imac speaks (and my bose's!)
and will change the mix if needed.
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  #7  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:05 PM
DJ Hellfire DJ Hellfire is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by flommer View Post
This is why these are made..

Exactly what I'm getting at. I'd rather use something like those than use some crap speakers that are gonna sound like crap no matter what you throw at them. I know this test is important, but I think certain speakers just shouldn't be used at a reference to make important changes from. For all you know, the crapness of those speakers could be making you think you need to change something that is actually fine! As for the boomboxes, the ones I've always seen are at least decent boxes, not just straight junk!
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  #8  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:09 PM
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O.G. Killa O.G. Killa is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

One thing to point out that some eluded to but never really hit the issue head-on...

Perceived fidelity is RELATIVE. A person listening to music on an iPhone all day doesn't "hear" the fidelity, they hear any CHANGE in fidelity. Likewise on a computer laptop speaker or earbuds etc...

If the person is a pop rock junkie, they'll be able to hear the difference between a "good" mix done by someone like CLA compared to a DIY home mix done by a local band in their earbuds. How is that possible? Aren't earbuds supposed to sound crappy?!?! Then how can someone hear a good mix vs bad mix? Ahhh... because it is ALL relative to the speakers you are used to listening to.

I challenge ANYONE to listen to music on earbuds for at least 30 minutes straight, then A/B a personal favorite mix against a mix you know isn't that great. I can guarantee you will still be able to recognize that the bad mix isn't "AS GOOD" as the good mix. It will be harder for you to pinpoint why. But nevertheless, after year ears adjust to the tonality of the earbuds, and you've spent some time listening to various music tracks, you will start to hear differences in the mixes.

So, to the OP... what's important is getting a variety of speakers to check your mixes on THAT YOU ARE USED TO LISTENING TO. That's why you should always check the mixes in your car, as opposed to the band's car. How do you know what the band's car sounds like? but you've been listening to music in your car every day for years (most likely) so you really know what it should sound like in your car environment.

Same goes for laptop speakers, same goes for headphones, same goes for cheap PC speakers. It doesn't matter what you get so long as you put the time into getting accustomed to how they sound.

The next point, is that you should always try to have at least one pair of really good, high fidelity monitors and an acoustically treated room to mix in. This is important because you want to be able to hear the "highest denominator" so to speak. You should also know what these speakers sound like in your room and have put a lot of time into listening to music on them. Just because they sound better, doesn't mean you won't be able to hear the difference between a CLA and a crappy home mix. The reality is quite the contrary. You'll not only be able to hear the difference, just like you could on earbuds...but the speakers are so detailed that you can now precisely HEAR what the problems are and how to fix them.

It's more of a top down approach. You should never mix to/for the lowest common denominator/listener. You should mix for the highest. If it can sound perfect in a great listening environment, it will sound good in lesser environments... but if you get it to sound good in lesser environments, it won't necessarily sound good in great listening environments.

So... your tracks sound great on earbuds and laptops...but then you try to get your song placed in a film, and on the AMC theater's $20,000 sound system your mix has a lot of problems you didn't couldn't fix when listening on your earbuds... so the director eventually decides that your track doesn't have the "impact", "fullness" or "emotional drive" they are looking for and passes on your track for one that sounds better.

Or the radio station passes on putting your first single into heavy rotation, because while it might sound OK on earbuds, listeners have been calling in saying the song sounds like crap in their cars and on their home stereo systems...
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  #9  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:14 PM
DJ Hellfire DJ Hellfire is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by elicious View Post
the man who created the role of modern mixer, bob clearmountain,
famously (or in ) made rock stars out of the fab cripe ns-10's
when it was revealed he checked all his mixes on these.
(albeit with the equally fab "toilet paper on the tweeters")

at the time,
working my day gig at snooty audiophile salons
we were shocked
cuz, natch, the only "real" speakers came from this country or the u.k.

but he wanted to know how his target audience,
teenage doodz listening in their bedrooms,
would be hearing his work.

and, of course, one listen to "avalon" speaks volumes...

and it seemed, within 6 months of his comments, every studio had bought and installed a pair.
(created quite a market too,
originally those spkrs could be had for less than a bill apiece...
i hope yamaha gave him stock!)

a decade earlier, the top selling band of the era was reo speedwagon
who stated they mixed their fm epics through li'l auratones.
so, this goes way back.

after driving home, blasting my car and the neighbors,
i still check mixes through my imac speaks (and my bose's!)
and will change the mix if needed.

I wouldn't exactly call the NS-10's crap though! Would you?
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  #10  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:22 PM
DJ Hellfire DJ Hellfire is offline
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Default Re: DEBATE: Using other speakers and crappy speakers to check mixes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by O.G. Killa View Post
1. One thing to point out that some eluded to but never really hit the issue head-on...

Perceived fidelity is RELATIVE. A person listening to music on an iPhone all day doesn't "hear" the fidelity, they hear any CHANGE in fidelity. Likewise on a computer laptop speaker or earbuds etc...

I challenge ANYONE to listen to music on earbuds for at least 30 minutes straight, then A/B a personal favorite mix against a mix you know isn't that great. I can guarantee you will still be able to recognize that the bad mix isn't "AS GOOD" as the good mix. It will be harder for you to pinpoint why. But nevertheless, after year ears adjust to the tonality of the earbuds, and you've spent some time listening to various music tracks, you will start to hear differences in the mixes.

2. So, to the OP... what's important is getting a variety of speakers to check your mixes on THAT YOU ARE USED TO LISTENING TO. That's why you should always check the mixes in your car, as opposed to the band's car. How do you know what the band's car sounds like? but you've been listening to music in your car every day for years (most likely) so you really know what it should sound like in your car environment.

1. This is why I said I would never makes changes based on these speakers alone without comparing my mix to a known good mix on the same crap speakers.

2. This is actually what I do. I use my cars a lot to make the final decisions on my mixes, because I know how things should sound there. But, my cars don't have crap audio systems. I also have a pair of out door speakers at work that I use. They aren't great, but they aren't total crap either. They are decent.
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