Mixing in a new room or space you don’t work in regularly is one of the biggest (and most fun!) challenges you can face as a mixer. I have to do it from time to time and it’s something you might do now or at least have to in the future. If you start mixing without a care in the world and just “go at it” until you think your mix is done, then you could risk all your hard work falling apart when you play it back outside the studio. But there’s one simple way to avoid this and actually look forward to your days working in a new room.
When you’re mixing outside of your normal environment, there’s a lot to contend with; such as a different desk, outboard gear, plugins, monitors and a space that you’re not used to. Human beings crave familiarity, so you’re out of your comfort zone and while being out of that zone is great in one way, you have to be especially careful that you quickly adapt to your new environment and get the job done. Luckily, there’s a very quick way to do this.
In terms of mixing, what’s familiar to you? It’s your taste and the music you listen to most regularly – those tracks you know inside out. I listen to a lot of music through my studio monitors and in my studio environment, so that’s my baseline for how I perceive tracks. That means that when a track I’m familiar with is played back in another environment, I’m going to perceive it differently. That’s so important to adjusting to the new space because I can actually hear the (sometimes subtle) differences!
These familiar tracks, your taste and what you feel are great mixes should be quantified by your mixing reference set. So, the easiest way to get used to a new room and all the variables that come with it is to play your mixing reference set a number of times as you’re setting things up.
I highly recommend that you have your reference set available to you at all times either on a USB stick, external hard drive, via a Dropbox link, beamed in by satellite, or via carrier pigeon/raven – whatever works best for you!
Listening to your reference set a number of times in the new room helps you adjust in three specific ways:
- You will hear the differences in the room versus your usual mixing environment and be able to compensate appropriately. For example… adding more bass to cater for a poor bass response.
- You won’t waste any time. Adjusting to your room from the start means you won’t have to “fix your mix” or second guess your EQ decisions much later in the mix. That sort of indecision wastes a lot of time.
- Your mix won’t fall apart when played back in another listening environment. By using your reference set to adjust to the room and throughout your mixing process, you’ll ensure that your mix translates with ease.
Mixing in a new room with new people and a fresh environment is great but lots of people dread it. I understand the apprehension, but by going through the process I’ve outlined above, you’ll be able to mix with ease and confidence in your decisions.
What do you think? What do you do to adjust to mixing in a new room? Leave a comment below and let me know.
professional sounding mix every time…