Hey guys Dave Maxey here from HomeMusicStudio1.com. So just had a couple of quick thoughts that I wanted to shoot out to you guys.
You know what if you'd like more content like this, this kind of a fireside chat, just really a shorter content than some of the previous stuff I normally release, definitely let me know in the comments section. I would be happy to do more videos like this.
So of all the questions that I get asked on a regular basis of the top three is how do I train my ears for mixing, ok. You know what my answer to this question might be a lot simpler than what you would think.
I know that if we sit down and Google a little bit of ear training you're gonna find that there are several tools out there to kind of help with this subject.
There are some software out there that will generate tones and kinda give you a quiz on what it is that you think you're hearing and to help you develop, ok this is what 12k sounds like, this is what 60Hz sounds like.
They're also tools online that you can use to test your hearing. It's amazing to me how many people are mix engineers even in the
home studio who have never had their hearing tested.
So those are all important tools and I'm not discounting them in any stretch of the imagination. I want to encourage you to do a little research on your own in find out what might be available to you.
Here's how I first answer the question, how do I train my ears for mixing? The first in very most important thing you need to do is listen to a lot of professionally recorded mixed and mastered projects, ok.
Here's the key with that you need to be listening to those projects in the space that you're mixing in, preferably whether it's the headphones or the exact studio position you're mixing in is going to be ideal.
So what you see around you right now is his home base, this is Home Music Studio 1 if you will, okay so I'm in my basement I got a little bit of acoustic treatment in this room.
I'm not discounting the fact that maybe your space is not perfectly acoustically treated or maybe you've just got a pair of earphones.
Alright, in those situations yes what we're we're officially hearing technically can kind of lie to you a little bit in regards to frequencies versus what's coming out of your monitors or your headphones.
However, if you are listening on a regular basis to a lot of different styles of music that I've been professionally recorded mixed and mastered, you are training your ear to hear what quality sounds like. That's immensely important when it comes to mixing.
Years ago I used to be a house engineer, a contracted engineer and so I would be hired by a company to to bring in a PA and then to be the house engineer for local concerts. Sometimes larger headlining bands.
One of the things I would do that I found worked really well to kind of prepare the fans as they were gathering in their seats and getting ready to hear their favorite concert from whatever band that was playing.
We would have background music playing on CD a little bit lower obviously than the concert itself. I would simply just roll the highs out of those tracks as they began to play people are coming in and being seated make the music in the background a little bit dull.
What I found happened is it made as the band started it made the band nice and clear nice and present. It just made the live music sound better to the listener.
Now why is that the case? Truth be told our ears are very relative alright, in other words have you been playing a track or maybe you're working on a project and it sounds great sounds amazing to you you've been listening for several minutes maybe several hours.
Then you you even hopped on YouTube and you played the newest a Adele release or you played a new high end track from what are your favorite bands and suddenly your project doesn't quite sound as good?
Well our ears get used to hearing tones a certain way and it's relative. In other words you can compare tones to another and a lot of times we don't necessarily listen to enough quality music to train our ears for mixing.
So I want to encourage if you want to get better at hearing what should sound good or what should, what your mix should sound like, what a mix sounds like that is good; then listen to good mixes.
Listen to professional-quality mixes in the environment, preferably right in the space that you're mixing in, and I guarantee you, over time you will begin to train ears for mixing.
You will begin to hear tones in ways that you haven't before and you begin to gravitate toward what qualities sounds like for your own projects.
So hopefully guys this tip has been helpful to you. I highly encourage you to do that. If this video something that it has been helpful make sure to click "Like".
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Yup great video. An experienced engineer told me the exact same thing a few years ago that changed my life, he basically listened to all the great music from the last few decades in your studio for 4 days straight. It sounded crazy but it worked. I had to train my ears how to hear.
I appreciate your down to earth explanations,I can tell you have no egos which just goes to show you know your stuff. Thank you for your wonderful ideas you’ll be richly rewarded at a time you least is expecting it.
Great information and I love how down to earth your presentation. Glad to be a part of your following.
Thanks . Love your Way of teaching
hey your welcome Jason, appreciate the comment!
My references are old recordings and even 50’s TV shows (IE: Ed Sullivan).
I listen to what I would do to clean them a little but in the end I like the vintages sound.
Long story short, rather than plug-ins and “perfect studio” I use a lot of vintage and analog stuff, even my final mixes are to a TEAC 2340 with Aphex exciter. Much easier for me to let the vintage stuff do its “magic” than try and get a digital impression of it.
Your comment on live performance vs records is interesting, people want a “performance” not “Perfection”. That is why concerts sell out faster than CDs off a shelf. Just my opinion.
I’m actually in the studio now recording my first EP. Will try this out. Thanks
Dave, Thanks for the simple and informative words. I find after decades in and out of this arena, simpler is most often better. I recently spent hours reviewing some instruction videos on mixing technique: what frequencies to control, eliminate, EQ, compress, etc. I took one of my songs and reworked it to those guidelines. Yep, you guessed it, crap. Now I understand how good my ears have always been with simple technique. I’m also one who practises moving my work to at least 5-6 other ways to translate playback. For me it’s time consuming, but very worth that effort. (chuck sadosky, playback 101).
Thanks Dave. I’m on vacation right now but when I get home I will try.
Hi Dave, Good advice and something I need to do more of. When listening on your studio monitors, I’m wondering, does it matter if you listen to the professional mixes as mp3 or a higher resolution format?
The higher the quality the better however, even an mp3 will still give you good training on depth and dynamics in relation to where tracks are within any given mix.
Davey … I think you need to add some tweaks.
First, you really need to define properly mixed albums. Personally, nothing in the last 15-20 years has been worth a crap. So if you are going to suggest people listen to an “album”, you might help identify good ones AND why.
Second, a “tuned” listening environment won’t provide the “audience” environment. Sure, the final mix may sound stellar in the studio but toss it into a rattle trap car and it becomes a swing-n-miss. Which is why stellar studios have a variety of playback devices.
The chat about sound dampening was interesting. TD Steve move a number of drum shields into Ben’s office for quieting reflections when doing some VO work. Maybe I should do the same in the video office … but maybe that’s work will go the way of the dino, too.
Hey Bryan! thanks for the comment. Few thoughts… I prefer not to make blankets statements like “nothing in the last 15-20 years has been worth a crap”, ha ha. Truth be told all “good” mixes are relative to the listener. regardless of what we as enginner would like to think, mixes are made for the audience not other engineers. My reference in this video is a general guideline that I believe is very helpful to the upcoming mix enginner in a home studio recording environment, which does differ from a front of house mix enginner.
On an “audience” environment? As one who’s intimately familiar with “Stellar studios” both as an engineer and musician, A tuned room is the first line of defence against a mix that does not translate well in multiple playback systems. We use a variety of playback devices for reference but not for building an entire mix. A mix that sounds great in a studio but not in a car system has likely not been mix well in a room that reveals the true tones, nor properly mastered. A tuned room in a studio environment (as opposed to live sound that is) refers to a room that has been treated both for early reflections AND frequency response. Not just for the gain of each freq but also the decay of each freq (as shown in waterfall graphs). Thus making the room tell a much more realistic picture of what’s happening in a mix.
Mixes that translate well do so because their freq response is very smooth, even when the curve is not flat, the peaks and valleys are smooth. This process starts as a project is first tracked, then when mixed well, and lastly after being mastered. In my experience as a recording engineer, multiple playback systems are the last line of verification and by no means are they the only way to produce a mix that will translate well from a PA, to earbuds, or even a car stereo.
Though I can appreciate the perspective ;), I’m also not trying to address every possible issue in one single video, but the takeaway here, and most important of what was said…, listen to pro mixes in the same setup you mix your recordings in. This fact, will help any mix enginner. We both might agree on a specific pro mix that is “crap” ;) as you say but that same album may have sold half a million copies. So again, this is why I don’t blanket all mixes and trust my audience here knows the difference in most cases.
Great response Dave… I personally think your suggestion is very worthy of implementing. When I can get back in my home studio that’s exactly what I’m going to try. I’ll listen to professional CDs of my genre of music in my mix setting and go from there…
Thanks again for a great suggestion. Every little bit helps ???
I liked this shorter info format.
I find that with my schedule I can assimilate these shorter excerpts of great info into my daily schedule.
Thanks for all you do for us.
Short and sweet. Keep ’em coming!
Thanks Dave. I learnt something today! Great tip.
thank you for the video its greatr
That you for the tips! I recently purchased your Mastering Vocals and learned 3 very useful techniques. Thank you very much!
Liked the presentation, I am sure it will help.
Hey Dave great advice Thanks!
Hi Dave – unrelated question – is your keyboard (the music keyboard not computer keyboard) on a tray that moves in or out or is it in a fixed position? I’m looking all over for a solution to have my 88-key keyboard slide in and out under my mixing station and can’t find anything that isn’t completely MacGuyver’d……
Hi Todd, this is in a fixed position. I built this desk myself for around $60. I custom built it to fit my keyboard and still give me the rack space I needed as well as typing space. Built from 2 by 6″ and knotty pine, than stained.
Quiztones is a great Mac, IOS, and Android app for training your ears for mixing sound.
Great advice. Has bben very helpful.
Thanks Dave… Great tip! I do like the short format and will try this out as soon as I get my room setup again!
Really simple and great advice, everything Dave says has applied while trying and learning how my mixes evolve, and still learning how to train my ears in the home environment!
Very Helpful ?
Such a simple thing to do…great idea. Makes total sense. Going to try this on a mix I’m working on. Thanks David
Often the simplest things can have the greatest impact, thanks for the comment Fred!
Thanks for taking the time to make this video. I appreciate the great tips you gave.
Your most welcome Gary ;).
David this was a great tip. I hear from so many sources that referencing professional mixes and mastered music is a great tool for mixing. Now that i have my studio set up i can start implementing it. I just don’t have the acoustic treatment that you have. It looks good though! lol
Thanks!, On treatment, the smaller the room the more I recommend treating most all of your space. If you’ve got more than a 16 foot distance with 8′ foot ceilings, its more important to treat the early reflection points (where the sound hits first from your monitors). My space is barely a 10′ square. ;) I have more than 80% of the walls treated and floating panels above as well that I made. I actually picked mine up from here https://www.foambymail.com/acoustical-wedge-foam.html Not as high end as others but hard to beat for the money. Thanks for the comment!
Hi Dave, as always, good sound advice (pun intended :)…thanks for sharing!
Thanks Marc ;) Ha ha.
I enjoyed the short presentation. I am one who has been working with sound equipment for years, but am starting to try mixing. I appreciate all the help and information that I can get.
Thank for the feedback Berry, happy to help. Have a great weekend!