3 Tips For Getting Better Mixes In Your Home Studio

If you’re anything like me, you love to look at pictures of big, fancy recording studios – the gear, the look, the size… it’s all so attractive

Then you compare those studios to your home studio situation… it’s small, might have clothes all over the place, no acoustic treatment or fancy outboard gear.

“If only my room was designed like that big studio, then I’d be able to get pro mixes so easily”

The truth is… although all of the gear and acoustic treatment would be cool to have, it shouldn’t stop you from being able to make great mixes from home – even if your setup consists of just a laptop and a set of monitors or headphones.

The biggest reason why your mixes might not sound as good could be because of the way you’re listening to music in that room.

It all comes down to 3 things:

  • Monitoring position
  • Mixing at lower volumes
  • Using reference mixes

Monitoring Position:

Where you place your monitors in your room has a significant impact on the way you hear mixes. The wrong positioning can trick your ears into thinking you have a good balance, when in fact you don’t.

To get your monitors in the right spot:

  • Place your desk and monitors in the center of a wall
    • By doing so, you will have a balanced stereo image on both sides rather than dealing with uneven reflections which will make It harder to mix
  • Pull your monitors away from the wall
    • When your monitors are too close to a wall, you get tons of bass buildup. This may make you think the low end in your mix is big; when in fact, you don’t have enough because the bass buildup is tricking your ears. Your mix won’t translate onto other systems because the bass is only in your room and not in the mix
    • Move your monitors at least 12” away from the wall to help reduce this
  • Create an equilateral triangle between your head and speakers
    • Use a tape measure to make sure you have the same distance from your head to your monitors as you do from speaker cone to speaker cone.
    • For example, if your speakers are 4ft away from each other, then your head should be 4ft away from each speaker
    • Point your speakers inwards so they are pointed at your ears

Mixing At Lower Volumes:

If your room doesn’t have proper acoustic treatment, you run the risk of having it deceive your ears with lots of bad reflections – especially at high volumes.

By mixing at lower volumes, you can drastically reduce the amount your room is influencing what you’re hearing. You’ll have less deceptive bass and top end influencing your mixes

Plus, scientifically, when you mix at louder levels, your ears perceive more bass and top end than there actually is supposed to be.

Reference Mixes:

While you’re mixing, it’s always a good idea to compare your mixes to reference tracks.

By using a professionally recorded, mixed and mastered reference track, it will create a standard to aim for in your mixes. It’ll also allow you to gain a sense of what a professional mix should sound like in your room.

If your room has any weird resonant frequencies due to poor acoustics, at least with a reference track, it will let you know how a pro mix should sound in your room with those frequency spikes.

I created a video a little while ago on how you can use reference tracks to help you with your mixes.  You can check it out HERE.

Don’t let your room bring you down. And if you need to reorganize your room to try these ideas out – do it!

I guarantee it’ll improve your low end and your mixes will translate much better on other sets of speakers

– Mike

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