So, you’re latest masterpiece is completed and you’ve done your mixing and mastering and it sounds awesome in your home studio – Fantastic!
Now for the bad news – how does it sound on other devices? How does it sound on your phone with it’s single speaker or on your headphones that colour the sound. Or worse still, what about in your car where the acoustics really suck?
These are all considerations that you need to take into account whenever you have a final mix of a song ready.
The Humble Headphones
My first recommendation and one that I use all the time when mixing is to use a good set of over ear headphones or in ear headphones. Why? because they will generally colour the sound in ways that you may not have planned for. How does the bass sound? Too low? Too harsh or simply not there?
These are common problems when you mix on smaller monitors that lack the extended bass range that headphones may try to interpret. So, while your in the process of mixing, try listening to your work in progress on normal headphones. They don’t need to be £500 top of the line reference ones, but a decent set of headphones will generally warm the sound up, possibly boost the mid range or add some harshness to the top end that you didn’t intend or even know was there.
The Mobile Phone
Oh please god no, tell me they aren’t going to listen to my perfectly balanced mix on a mobile phone. Sorry pal, more and more people are listening to music on the go with just the crappy little mono speaker in their mobile phones. Yes, you heard me right – mono speaker!
So, when you’re mixing, get your hands on a phone to listen to it on. Or better still, try something like the fantastic little X-Mini portable speaker. Yes it will extend the bass slightly and be a little louder than the phone, but it is still mono and will give you a good idea of the placement of your instruments in mono space.
I Like Driving in my Car!
This is probably one of the most important environments to test your mix in. Yup, in the car. The humble family wagon will be less than ideal acoustically, but millions of people listen to music in their cars every day. So, for your mix to stand up to scrutiny, it needs to play well inside that tin box on wheels.
Burn off a CD, pop it on a memory stick or use an MP3. It doesn’t matter how it just matters that you test it out in that environment. If it works, you’re a goddamn genius and you don’t really need to be reading this site – Whoa! Calm down, I didn’t say to leave…
I’m sure there are many, many, more environments and devices you can check your mix on; and the pursuit of perfection could be a very long road (if you’re driving, don’t forget to take you latest mix to listen to in the car!). But, with a little time and effort you will soon learn how to modify your mix to get great results across all of these generally less than ideal devices and environments. Consider it this way; when you buy a new set of monitors or use old ones in a new environment, you need to learn the nuances and characteristics that they present. This is the same.
Good luck with your future mixes and I hope this little article and video have helped out!
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