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Mixing & Reverb with monitors or headphones?

#1 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 11:48 PM

I've been attending Cubase User group meetings down here in Tampa and most of the discussions are around using Cubase.
However, as it is when you get a group of musicians together, the focus changes to other subjects.

I don't even know how the topic came up, but the guy who is presiding over these meetings and who has his own studio mentioned that he always uses his monitors,
among other speakers, to mix with.
However, when adding reverb, which he says he only uses on singers that are not that good, we should use our headphones for deciding just how much to add.
The reasoning is that most of us that have home studios don't have our monitors or rooms calibrated accurately enough to be able to hear the actual amount of reberb that we might be adding.

I was wondering if anyone else had heard of that theory of using headphones for mixing the amount of reberb in your mix.

btw, he likes to use delay, for the good singers, which in Cubase means doubling a vocal track and offsetting the start position of one of the tracks.
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#2 User is offline   Desertrose Icon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 03:40 AM

"However, when adding reverb, which he says he only uses on singers that are not that good"

That doesn't make any sense to me at all. (Not that I'm highly qualified to say really :) ) Reverb can accentuate any little trailings of notes and that's often where people lose pitch - on note endings.
A little bit of reverb, depending on the style of song of course can sound really nice (for those who CAN sing too lol!)
Personally I think you can hear "more" reverb (more of everything really) through good stereo headphones than what you hear through monitors so I guess it's good to use them to check that you're not using too much.

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 06:10 AM

View PostDannyDep, on 03 March 2012 - 04:48 AM, said:

However, when adding reverb, which he says he only uses on singers that are not that good, we should use our headphones for deciding just how much to add.
Is he for real? Poor Elvis :(

Maybe he was referring to the singer’s monitor mix, most singers like a bit of reverb in their headphones when recording.

All I will say about headphones and the dangers of mixing with them is everything is more pronounced. Space, reverb, separation etc. So mixing purely on headphones may lead to a less effective monitor mix. Best thing is to use both. Sometimes if I just want a tad of reverb, if I can hear it in the headphones but not on the monitors I've probably got it about right. Which is probably what you guy is saying, but I don't buy the 'bad singer' bit.

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 06:20 AM

Well, he's being maybe a bit of a snob about the way he's saying it, but he is saying something that sorta kinda true.

The hardest thing to hear in a home studio is the midrange band. Most inexpensive monitors are hyped in the lows and the highs, so when you hear them for the first time you say, "Wow! Dig that bass! And the clarity!" (No offense to anyone who owns them, but KRK's are notorious for this.). An untreated rectangular low-ceilinged room just makes it worse.

So home recordings will sound "muddy" (because virtually everything you record has some low-mid information in it and the buildup of those frequencies turns to sludge), and/or they'll have way too much reverb on them (because most of the effect lives in the band from the low to high mids, and if you can't really hear it you crank it till you can, and then you sound like the 80s, when, as my friend and fellow board jockey Gary would say, "Too much reverb was just about enough.")

It's a good idea to check mixes on every available set of transducers. I have some small M-Audio speakers I use to check what the mix will sound like on TVs, some good Sony headphones for listening close to glitches and fade outs and that sort of thing, and I will plug a set of Skullcandy earbuds into the board to get the iPod perspective.

So, yes, check your mix on phones. Just don't take them as gospel, because they are, by their very nature, hype machines.

By the way, if you're spending money on a home studio, you should consider treating the room where you mix. It's not expensive, and the guys who make good sonic foam (Auralex, for example) will tell you want you need to do... all you have to do is send them a detailed floor plan, and they'll send back a recommendation, and they won't over sell you. I did a really tight job on my control room for about $200 worth of materials.

#5 User is offline   Bruce N Icon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:45 AM

As for "adding" reverb on singers, well it really depends on the style of music eh, on whether they're good or bad singers, you can help bad singers sound better with effects, colour their voice so to speak, on the other hand some good singers can benefit by drying out their voice even more.

Just as some people are photogenic, some fortunate souls are vocal-genic, they don't need much in the way of effects to improve the quality of their voice.

I'm sure most of us would agree that Celine Dion is one the great pop singers around, but get her to try her voice at Oprea and IMO she has a less then fair voice for that style of music, and no amount of effects are going to help her.

Celine Dion - Habanera (Bizet's opera Carmen) http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Angela Gheorghiu sings the Habanera - http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Getting the vocals right on a song with what the singer brings, is probably one hardest things to mix, as the vocal treatment can make or break the song, regardless how good or bad the lyrics or music are.

As for mixing, I'll do the majority of it on my studio-phones, they are Audio Technica ath-m40fs, Frequency Response: 5-28,000 Hz - Sensitivity: 100dB, and with an extremely flat response.

Once I get the mix where I think it should be, I'll do the final mix on my Yamaha HS80M monitors, which does involve making corrections from the phones, but usually only within the depth of field and panning.

While I think room treatment is a consideration, dead air is the best, if you have your near field monitors calibrated and positioned correctly for mixing, room treatment shouldn't be that big of a consideration, if it is, then you don't have the monitors, or yourself positioned properly in the right spot to get the greatest benefit from them.

If you're hearing reflections off the walls or ceiling, your ears are not in the near field sphere, if your ears are within that sphere you simply won't or shouldn't hear those reflections in the room.

You not trying to fill the room with sound from the near field monitors, that's the job of stereo loudspeakers, and where room treatment would be of greater consideration.
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#6 Guest_Gravity Jim_*

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:56 AM

Bruce, it's true that near fields are theoretically unaffected by room reflections. But in practice, reflections and frequency buildup are audible and do effect mixing choices, even at low levels. Most rooms in houses can benefit from some absorption and diffusion.

#7 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:31 PM

View PostDesertrose, on 03 March 2012 - 03:40 AM, said:

"However, when adding reverb, which he says he only uses on singers that are not that good"

That doesn't make any sense to me at all. (Not that I'm highly qualified to say really :) ) Reverb can accentuate any little trailings of notes and that's often where people lose pitch - on note endings.
A little bit of reverb, depending on the style of song of course can sound really nice (for those who CAN sing too lol!)
Personally I think you can hear "more" reverb (more of everything really) through good stereo headphones than what you hear through monitors so I guess it's good to use them to check that you're not using too much.

I think he may have mentioned that singers (not necessarily the good ones) are always the ones that want to add more reverb.
They haven't made an FX effective enough for my voice. <_< :P
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#8 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:35 PM

View PostNigeQ, on 03 March 2012 - 06:10 AM, said:

View PostDannyDep, on 03 March 2012 - 04:48 AM, said:

However, when adding reverb, which he says he only uses on singers that are not that good, we should use our headphones for deciding just how much to add.
Is he for real? Poor Elvis :(

Maybe he was referring to the singerís monitor mix, most singers like a bit of reverb in their headphones when recording.

All I will say about headphones and the dangers of mixing with them is everything is more pronounced. Space, reverb, separation etc. So mixing purely on headphones may lead to a less effective monitor mix. Best thing is to use both. Sometimes if I just want a tad of reverb, if I can hear it in the headphones but not on the monitors I've probably got it about right. Which is probably what you guy is saying, but I don't buy the 'bad singer' bit.

I don't think he was referring to just the singer's monitor mix, Nige. :unsure: But I will have to get a clarification at this months meeting and report.
Maybe I was not clear, but he said we should ONLY use headphones for mixing when we are considering how much reverb to add to the mix.
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#9 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:39 PM

View PostGravity Jim, on 03 March 2012 - 06:20 AM, said:

....................
It's a good idea to check mixes on every available set of transducers. I have some small M-Audio speakers I use to check what the mix will sound like on TVs, some good Sony headphones for listening close to glitches and fade outs and that sort of thing, and I will plug a set of Skullcandy earbuds into the board to get the iPod perspective.

So, yes, check your mix on phones. Just don't take them as gospel, because they are, by their very nature, hype machines.
...........

Agreed. I can't tell you how many times, I've been happy with a mix from my monitors, from my Sony headphones for listening to MP3s and finally I have a listen from my car's stereo and it never fails that I'm not at all happy with the final test and i have to start the process all over again. :angry: :blink:
"Ears, don't lie to me today." <_< :P
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#10 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:59 PM

View PostBruce N, on 03 March 2012 - 10:45 AM, said:

As for "adding" reverb on singers, well it really depends on the style of music eh, on whether they're good or bad singers, you can help bad singers sound better with effects, colour their voice so to speak, on the other hand some good singers can benefit by drying out their voice even more.
.....................

As for mixing, I'll do the majority of it on my studio-phones, they are Audio Technica ath-m40fs, Frequency Response: 5-28,000 Hz - Sensitivity: 100dB, and with an extremely flat response.

Once I get the mix where I think it should be, I'll do the final mix on my Yamaha HS80M monitors, which does involve making corrections from the phones, but usually only within the depth of field and panning.

.................

Yeah, I think that you can hear the inflections and other aspects of a good singer's vox that you want the folks to hear with less FX.

I do most of my mixing on a pair of AKG K240 DFs that are flat response phones.
Then I'll listen to the MP3 version of a pair of Song MDR-7506s as they tend to find problems with adding too much bass in the mix.
If I get a chance to mix with my monitors (M-Audio BX8s) once a week, I'm happy.
Not that it should be an excuse. <_< :unsure:

Of course, this is all irrelevant if you don't have your hearing. :unsure:
Save your ears folks.
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