Easy Mixing Advice: Introduction & Distrust What You Hear

This new blog series is for you, if you’re a sample composer of orchestral works who (as I do) wants to compose and not spend your time mixing and mastering. If you haven’t got the budget for a studio or an engineer, you might find this upcoming series of blogposts useful. It took me years to understand some things, and my purpose here is to save you valuable time that you might rather spend creating music than polishing it. So, without further ado let’s start with my first bit of advice:

— Distrust What You Hear! —

Yes, that’s what I wrote. I didn’t say “Distrust Your Ears” because your ears are probably working just fine. Problems with the mix start with the device that you use for monitoring, be it nearfield monitors or headphones. My advice is: Mix on quality headphones which

  1. have an even frequency response curve. Imagine your headphones have a considerable knee at 100 Hz which is the double bass/cello range (see frequency chart). In that case you will probably play/record/program the double bass to be louder than it actually has to be. That can happen with a lot of instruments in any frequency range, and that’s why you want headphones that are close to the truth – but not too close, because they also have to …
  2. produce a certain sound that’ comes close to what consumers usually listen to. It’s no use if your mix sounds superb on the two devices in the whole wide world that reproduce frequencies as they actually are, when everyone else listens to your stuff on smart TV or smart phone. You probably want your music to sound good on consumer devices. So if your headphones can do that, too, wonderful. They probably can’t, because consumer devices rarely have an even frequency response curve, so this is the point where you have to put up with the idea of using two headphones and switch regularly between them. Of course both headphones should
  3. be comfortable to wear. Otherwise you might get sore or even get a migraine.

My approach: I use a pair of Sennheiser HD650 for composing, then switch to AKG K 490 NC when it comes to mixing. For occasional headache I take a acetaminophen compound. 🙂

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