should i ignore room resonances when it sounds good on headphones?

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Chizmata
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Post 28 Jul 2022

mixing question, obviously. i create music on headphones (AKG) and double-check the mix on mediocre speakers in an untreated room. usually it works fine, but now ive discovered a nasty bass resonance in the room, while everything sounds alright over headphones. should i just ignore it as a local quirk or should i work on the mix?

thx in advance for your input!

RobC
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Post 28 Jul 2022

Compare your music to reference songs. (See if you notice an audible difference with that one resonance/problem frequency.)
Check on other systems (or in another room) if the problem is still there.
Get a second opinion. (Preferably somebody with more ideal acoustics.)

That said, if you turn your music up, you can easily notice when something is too loud (or too weak).

PhillipOrdonez
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Post 28 Jul 2022

Listen on the speakers at very low levels. Also reference, reference, reference.
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RobC
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Post 28 Jul 2022

Regarding Phillip's thought:

"Listen on the speakers at very low levels. Also reference, reference, reference."

In my case, I meant turning the music up with headphones (or preferably with balanced armature, multi-driver in-ears). Things like a weak bass, and harsh sounds, or overly dynamic drums and alike will become apparent. Because the annoying things get too loud and start bothering our ears first.

Example: I noticed that I turned a mix up, until it got uncomfortably loud, yet I still wanted to push it, since the snare just didn't have that hardness to it at lower volumes. That for example indicates a problem.

The other thing with referencing. It's not about copying, but refreshing our ears and getting another perspective, and how things are supposed to sound. Takes anywhere from just a few seconds, to a few minutes of listening. But when A/B referencing, I of course don't mean doing any rapid A/B clicking, to see what the difference would be.

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selig
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Post 28 Jul 2022

Chizmata wrote:
28 Jul 2022
mixing question, obviously. i create music on headphones (AKG) and double-check the mix on mediocre speakers in an untreated room. usually it works fine, but now ive discovered a nasty bass resonance in the room, while everything sounds alright over headphones. should i just ignore it as a local quirk or should i work on the mix?

thx in advance for your input!
The three important words are “IN THE ROOM”. The resonance is in the room, not in the speakers, not in the mix.
A room like this is useful, but only as ONE way to listen. You need more than one set of speakers, and often in different spaces, to fully judge a mix. You also need to listen at different levels. And maybe even some ‘extreme’ examples, like listening at low level on headphones that are sitting on a desk (no on your head!), or on an old mono PA speaker.

But even more than all of this, you need at least one way to listen (and do the bulk of your work) that is as reliable as possible. If you don’t have this available at home, find a friend, family member, or local studio you can lean on to ‘test’ mixes in progress.

Mix references are helpful too, if you choose them wisely. You want a few mixes that always sound good to you, even if played in a room with resonances. You need mixes you are intimately familiar with so you can tell what changes when listening in different rooms. You need mixes that relate somewhat to the song you are mixing (don’t use a dance floor slammer to reference a chamber music mix!).

You are looking to make mixes that translate, so use mix refs that also translate!
Selig Audio, LLC

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Chizmata
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Post 28 Jul 2022

thx for all your help guys, it definitely helped me identify the problem. it is, even though resonance did happen, deeper in the mix - and i'll have to start over :|

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Aosta
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Post 28 Jul 2022

You might also want to consider some reference calibration?
https://www.sonarworks.com/
You can get the full bundle for speakers and headphones but considering it is an untreated room with lower quality speakers I'd try the much cheaper headphone only option. I use this to headphone mix so at least you are getting a flat, balanced starting reference point and then work from there in different surroundings, speakers etc.
Mixing is one of those things that is full of second guessing and tweaking without a fully set up acoustically treated studio but you can get good results with the right process :thumbup:
Tend the flame

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selig
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Post 28 Jul 2022

Chizmata wrote:
28 Jul 2022
thx for all your help guys, it definitely helped me identify the problem. it is, even though resonance did happen, deeper in the mix - and i'll have to start over :|
Don't forget you also have us as a resource, if you want to post your mix vs your ref and ask for feedback as to how close you are etc.
And to be clear, you're not trying to copy the mix, you're using it because you know/like it, it has some element that is similar to what you're going for (eg, a massive bass that doesn't crap out sub woofers, drums that sound hard hitting on every system, etc), and it represents a mix that translates well in your experience.
While we cannot know your mix intentions, providing the ref goes a long way towards making your intentions more clear IMO.
Selig Audio, LLC

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Chizmata
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Post 28 Jul 2022

selig wrote:
28 Jul 2022
Chizmata wrote:
28 Jul 2022
thx for all your help guys, it definitely helped me identify the problem. it is, even though resonance did happen, deeper in the mix - and i'll have to start over :|
Don't forget you also have us as a resource, if you want to post your mix vs your ref and ask for feedback as to how close you are etc.
And to be clear, you're not trying to copy the mix, you're using it because you know/like it, it has some element that is similar to what you're going for (eg, a massive bass that doesn't crap out sub woofers, drums that sound hard hitting on every system, etc), and it represents a mix that translates well in your experience.
While we cannot know your mix intentions, providing the ref goes a long way towards making your intentions more clear IMO.
i dont really have a reference for this, i would just have to measure tracks for the same bass frequency and then see how my room responds to them - i have no quick tools for that though. but anyway, double-checking the track on different levels and angles has helped me learn that it was not a resonance issue, even though the room did resonate at this frequency, what made the problem even weirder. long story short, somewhere deep down a volume slider went wild and was driving into a compressor way too hard.

but thx for the offer of course!

RobC
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Post 29 Jul 2022

(Play on phone speakers too, for that specific kind of perspective.)

Many people may wonder, why some elements of their mixes just get lost or become a problem on different playback mediums, no matter what they do. What most people forget to suggest is, that there's the need for a bit of sound design. For example to create higher harmonics and clicking transients for an otherwise pure synth kick. (Which can be shaped further with EQ during mixing. But if there are no such harmonics, whatsoever, then there will be nothing to bring out with an EQ either.) Or to control some extreme peaks that may not be apparent at first.

ReasonOCD
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Post 04 Aug 2022

I think the perspective comment hits the nail on the head

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selig
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Post 05 Aug 2022

Chizmata wrote:
28 Jul 2022
selig wrote:
28 Jul 2022


Don't forget you also have us as a resource, if you want to post your mix vs your ref and ask for feedback as to how close you are etc.
And to be clear, you're not trying to copy the mix, you're using it because you know/like it, it has some element that is similar to what you're going for (eg, a massive bass that doesn't crap out sub woofers, drums that sound hard hitting on every system, etc), and it represents a mix that translates well in your experience.
While we cannot know your mix intentions, providing the ref goes a long way towards making your intentions more clear IMO.
i dont really have a reference for this, i would just have to measure tracks for the same bass frequency and then see how my room responds to them - i have no quick tools for that though. but anyway, double-checking the track on different levels and angles has helped me learn that it was not a resonance issue, even though the room did resonate at this frequency, what made the problem even weirder. long story short, somewhere deep down a volume slider went wild and was driving into a compressor way too hard.

but thx for the offer of course!
So, mystery solved?
Selig Audio, LLC

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Chizmata
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Joined: 21 Dec 2015

Post 05 Aug 2022

selig wrote:
05 Aug 2022
Chizmata wrote:
28 Jul 2022


i dont really have a reference for this, i would just have to measure tracks for the same bass frequency and then see how my room responds to them - i have no quick tools for that though. but anyway, double-checking the track on different levels and angles has helped me learn that it was not a resonance issue, even though the room did resonate at this frequency, what made the problem even weirder. long story short, somewhere deep down a volume slider went wild and was driving into a compressor way too hard.

but thx for the offer of course!
So, mystery solved?
yes, as said there was an issue in the mix which i didnt notice over headphones, but which was spotlighted by a room resonance.

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