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Sound Design, Mixing, & Studio Techniques Need to know how to make a specific sound? Want to improve your mix? Need advice on micing-up a drum kit? This is the area for you.

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Old 27-03-2017, 05:43 PM   #1
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Mixing Help

Hi there,

I use Propellerhead Reason to produce. I'm used to producing / mixing / EQing using headphones. Is this a bad idea? Should I be using speakers? I have KRK's, but I like the feeling of being "in the track" that headphones gives me. Am I wrong to work in this way?

Everything sounds so bassy on KRK's, even professional releases, not just my tracks. Is this normal?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 27-03-2017, 05:56 PM   #2
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Re: Mixing Help

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Originally Posted by Wave Dweller View Post
Hi there,

I use Propellerhead Reason to produce. I'm used to producing / mixing / EQing using headphones. Is this a bad idea? Should I be using speakers? I have KRK's, but I like the feeling of being "in the track" that headphones gives me. Am I wrong to work in this way?

Everything sounds so bassy on KRK's, even professional releases, not just my tracks. Is this normal?

Thanks in advance!
If you are able, you absolutely should at least check your mixes on monitors. Personally using headphones is a last resort for me. I really hate working on them.

I had some Gen 2 KRK Rockit 6's. I found the highs very harsh and the low mids muddy and too present. I wouldn't be surprised if the 8's were a bit boomy. You just have to learn them like any other tool. For example on both my monitors and headphones I know that if I can just here the top end of the bass distinctly in the mix, that is usually the right level, not where I want to put it to get that full bass sound. If I do that the bass will sound garbage and eat the mix on a system with more low end.

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Old 27-03-2017, 06:39 PM   #3
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Re: Mixing Help

you should use both.
if you know your headphones well then they are probably going to be your best option for monitoring, but you should reference on as many playback systems as possible, including your KRKs.

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Old 28-03-2017, 03:34 AM   #4
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Re: Mixing Help

What Parricide said. Referencing your tracks on as many speakers/headphones as possible is the best thing to do.

However, with my preferences, I like using headphones when writing music and designing sounds. It allows me to be more intimate.

When it comes to mixing, though, I used my monitors instead. I feel like tracks mixed on speakers translate better on headphones but the same can't be said the other way around. The only time when I used my headphones during mixing is when I'm EQing, because my speaker set up isn't really the best for subtle processes like that.

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Old 28-03-2017, 04:10 AM   #5
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Re: Mixing Help

It's pretty well accepted that KRKs are about as colored/bass heavy as you get. I've heard bookshelf speakers with flatter response. Rokits are awesome for listening, terrible for mixing.

Totally agree with everyone else - lots of sources, learn your equipment. It's technically possible to learn your KRKs, you're just going to have an uphill time of it compared to flatter monitors. Keep in mind that the primary listening venue is now phones and laptops, which along with clubs end up being pretty mono. Absolutely check your mixes in mono. As well as Apple ear buds, nice headphones, average car systems and on your phone.

Another thing you can do is reference tracks. Find pieces you think sound good and compare your track to theirs. The more you can dial in that sound, the more your piece will sound like that piece (as far as EQ and levels and whatnot, obviously not compositionally). It's a fairly common professional practice and works well when you're not sure about mixing direction. Might be something to try.
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Old 28-03-2017, 10:33 AM   #6
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Re: Mixing Help

I use both too.
Sennheiser HD205: I use these for a more detailed low end.
Yamaha HS7: Monitoring in general.

I work this way, since my Homestudio is small, and don't really wanna bother my neighbours. So, my yamaha's are allways on low volume. And there is, not much of a low responce.

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Old 28-03-2017, 08:32 PM   #7
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Re: Mixing Help

FWIW if you think you might be replacing your monitors and work in an untreated space: I found that less is much much more when it comes to bass. Switching to better 5 inch monitors than my Rokits was a whole new world. Not as "fun" in the moment because I don't have that really low bass anymore, but the mixes are 100% better.

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Old 28-03-2017, 08:59 PM   #8
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Re: Mixing Help

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
FWIW if you think you might be replacing your monitors and work in an untreated space: I found that less is much much more when it comes to bass. Switching to better 5 inch monitors than my Rokits was a whole new world. Not as "fun" in the moment because I don't have that really low bass anymore, but the mixes are 100% better.
Relic touches on two really important points:

First, bass is fun but it's rarely productive past a certain point unless you're specifically mixing for people with quality subs such as a club environment. My laptop probably does fairly accurate reproduction down to about 300Hz. A decent car stereo might go down to 150-200Hz and those are at fairly low power. The point here is that having a huge bass presence in your mixing setup and spending a lot of time adding sub bass to your mix is going to be lost in a lot of environments. Moreover, you can lose a lot of presence in your mix by adding those lows and then losing them unless you specifically compensate for systems with little bass response. If you mix with a sub it's absolutely crucial to check your mixes on subless systems.

Second point, room treatments matter, almost more than the speakers themselves. I'd rather have Rokits in a treated room than Adams in an untreated, because you lose everything that makes those speakers great when you build up reflections and standing waves and lose the trueness of the sound. Treatment's don't need to be extensive or expensive to be effective - a couple of well placed bass traps and wall hangings tend to be sufficient. You're almost always better off buying speakers that are a little less and budgeting for basic treatment. DIY is totally viable here and you can get a basic set done for less than $100.

To put this in perspective, if you have a standing wave interference pattern in your room it's the same as applying a notch EQ cut to your master and not being able to turn it off. Better speakers won't change that, best you can hope for is that it moves the frequency to one you don't care about. Fix the room, then worry about the speakers.

Last edited by Artificer; 28-03-2017 at 11:54 PM..
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Old 29-03-2017, 03:56 PM   #9
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Re: Mixing Help

Quality responses guys!

relic:
Which 5 inch speakers did you move to??

Also, can anyone recommend headphones that they feel gives them a "true" representation of the mix they are working on?

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Old 29-03-2017, 04:51 PM   #10
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Re: Mixing Help

Equator Audio D5s. At least in the US, the price/quality ratio is pretty high. However, I know that in the UK they are more expensive (imported from US). I agree with Artificer that having really expensive monitors in an untreated room is kind of a waste, at the time I bought my D5s they were better and cheaper than the a new pair of Rokit 6s. So, it only made sense. I want to say when they came out they were 300USD for the pair.

I had about a month to A/B the two sets of monitors and the D5s basically made the KRK 6s sound like mediocre powered PA speakers.

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Headphones. I love my AKG 702s. Many people find the bass lacking. I like mixing on them though. There is absolutely no mud in them and the high mids and highs are what do it for me. No fatigue--I have a problem with high end and ear fatique even on monitors so I'm pretty picky. I can work on the 702s all day (with breaks of course).

I rarely see electronic musicians mention AKGs, but I'm a fan.

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Old 29-03-2017, 08:05 PM   #11
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Re: Mixing Help

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Originally Posted by Wave Dweller View Post
Also, can anyone recommend headphones that they feel gives them a "true" representation of the mix they are working on?
I've got a couple recommendations at different price points.

At the cheap end, I've used Sennheiser HD280 Pros for years, and I love them. Lots of people would also recommend similarly priced, closed back Shure srh 440, Audio Technica ath-m50, or Koss Pro Dj. Those are all around $100 and should have pretty similar sound. Nothing stellar, but they will get the job done.

Above that, I'd spring for open headphones to get a better sense of the "space" you construct for your music. AKG's have the biggest soundstage I've heard, so they do that very well (I use the q701s for that).

If you have more money to blow, I'd also get a little dac/amp like a Schiit Fulla (they're on version two now, I have the original). It's going to make any headphone a bit more detailed.

If you have even more money to spend, then I'd go with the Sennheiser HD 600/650 (your choice really) or the Hifiman HE-400i. I use the 400i and it really doesn't roll off the sub bass at all like most headphones and the highs are there, but they don't have any noticeable resonance. I haven't heard another headphone that covers the whole frequency range with as little color as the Hifiman. If you go with one of these, an amp at least as good as the Fulla is required to get everything the headphone can offer. With the amp, you're looking at around a $400-$500 price tag for any of those. I don't know of any headphones above that range that are really suitable for pro use, every company gets into their "house" sound, and they all have a non-linear take on what sounds best.

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Old 29-03-2017, 09:52 PM   #12
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Re: Mixing Help

+1 on AKGs for sound stage and Schitt Audio. I have their ~$99 headphone amp and its great. Really brings out the richness the AKG 702s (same guts as Q701 I think) are capable of.

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