“How loud should I monitor when mixing?”
This is a very common question, especially for engineers that are just getting into mixing audio.
Now, everybody has there own opinion on this matter, and all that I can do is give you mine, but this method has worked very well for me over the years, so here goes!.
When mixing most types of music balancing the respective leves of sounds rich in mid-high frequency material is a completely different challenge to mixing sounds with a large amount of bass frequencies, and so it makes sense to vary your monitoring level to suit.
When balancing the mid and high rich elements it is much easier to make informed decisions at lover volumes, and even at very low volumes on restricted bandwidth speakers (eg Yamaha NS10′s etc). Monitoring quietly and listening closely to the relationships between these sounds at this volume will allow your ears to hear the balance of the audio signals and not be affected by the natural compression of your ears.
Your ears are much more sensitive to frequencies in the 1K – 4.5K frequency range and this difference is amplified as the amplitude of the sound is increased
As shown here:
In contrast the human ear s less sensitive to bass frequencies at lower volumes, meaning, making judgements on bass instruments at a quiet volume is very difficult as your ears find it harder to hear bass frequencies at lower volumes. This coupled with the fact that a large part of the sound of most music is the feeling of bass frequencies physically moving the air so, at low volumes this is just not happening.
So in conclusion, try to vary your monitor levels, monitor at a decent level (about 80-85dB) to get things going, then spend a good amount of time monitoring very low, maybe 55-65dB (depending upon your listening environment) to make the all important adjustments to the relative volumes of the mid-frequency rich sounds.
Try not to make too many bass adjustments when monitoring quietly.
remember, your listening environment will affect the sound of your mix, so try to get the room that you mix in to sound as neutral as possible, it is extremely difficult to create a good sounding mix in a bad sounding room, so do not under estimate the value of a well treated listening and mixing environment.
If you would like to hear any of the mixes that we have produced here at Univibe please visit our SoundCloud page and have a listen.
If you have any queries or there is any advice that you would like regarding recording/mixing please ask and we will try to include it in future tips.
Thanks for reading!