Dealing with artists while mixing on your monitors

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yoink
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Dealing with artists while mixing on your monitors

Post by yoink » Fri May 09, 2008 7:47 pm

When I got my first set of monitors I though, wow these sound a lot different than any other speaker I've ever heard. But after a very short period of time my mixes were coming out miles ahead (more often than not) of what they were prior to the acquisition thereof when I was using a consumer 2.1 system and a set of headphones to check. Of course! - you'll all say, and of course, you were all right!

The hardest thing to get used to, for me, was the bass response. I had become so used to hyped (really over-hyped) bass because of a subwoofer (or in other systems, some kind of intense "hyper bass" equalization) that I didn't realize how far off the mark I was starting from.

However, having come to understand that what I heard before was essentially a very mutated version of what was actually there, I began to revel in, and love working on my monitors - modest, cheap and unpopular though they may be.

But lately I've been working on some mixes for a very talented band, and because I like the project and like the guys we've been working together - sharing input while mixing - so they're not just sitting in, they're a part of.

But they're often asking for more low-end than they need. They can't "feel" it enough.

What do you folks do? They get it when I play back the mixes on systems they're familiar with, but nevertheless they are always wanting more and more "bass" when we're mixing and not all that intent to listen to my "that's way too much already" repetitive sound track.

I've taken to re-adjust the levels when they're gone before I print them and send them the current state of affairs.

Any hints/insight?

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Spindrift
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Post by Spindrift » Fri May 09, 2008 8:40 pm

Explain to them that there is a difference between studio monitors and stereo systems. They need to understand that your monitors are a tool that you use to make their music sound great outside of the studio as well as inside the studio and this can mean it doesn't sound as big in the studio

If they still don't get it, do one or both of the following:

-If you're mixes are at a point that you don't mind the artist comparing it to an album they love, put on that CD and let them hear that the records they think sound amazing, also sound bass light on your monitors.

-Hook up a second set of monitors or a stereo system with more low end. When you're happy with how your mix is sounding on your monitors, switch to the loud, bass heavy system. They'll be happy, they'll know you're getting it and they'll let you do your job. Anytime you hear, "It just doesn't have enough balls", switch to the bass heavy system for 30 seconds to let them get a sense of where you're going with it and how it can sound on something else. Not only will this make them happy and get them off your back, but it will force you to check your mixes on more than one system. This is a pretty common practice in big studios where the engineer mixes on nearfields and auratones but puts on the huge soffit-mounted mains when the artist/label need to be impressed.

Hope this helps.
Adam
Last edited by Spindrift on Sat May 10, 2008 8:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by ashcat_lt » Fri May 09, 2008 9:50 pm

1) (least popular answer) Tell them to go home. If they want to pay you to mix, then let you mix. Get them a ref copy asafp and let them check it out on systems they're familiar with. Take their input and tweak your mix if necessary.

2) Offer them your room for mixing at a discounted price if you don't actually have to do anything. They'll pay extra for you to fix it once they realize how poorly their mix translates.

3) Several playback systems in the studio.

4) Graphic eq before the monitors. Put a nice smiley face curve on there and un-bypass it when people start to complain. "That better?"


Edit - I s'pose #1 should probably be "make sure that your room/speakers aren't de-emphasizing the bass"...

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Post by rwc » Fri May 09, 2008 10:38 pm

I seat the artist in the corner or the back of the room. :lol:

The last thing anyone wants to hear from a mixer is trust me, it'll sound great, even if it doesn't now... that is the worst line I could think of to give someone.

If they come to my pad, which is where I do any real mixing.. they hear shit for what it is. I have an honest mixing system, flat like a bitch to 27 hz. :] no poppy mids, no scooped/hyped highs, no "learn how to mix on ****" nonsense.. what you hear is what you get. so what they hear, is how it winds up in their car, on their boombox, etc.

I don't have auratones so I use my TV speakers afterwards just to make sure it sounds right on junk. I use a sony a2000 as a computer screen and it has terrible built in speakers that work for that purpose.
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Bob Womack
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Post by Bob Womack » Sat May 10, 2008 7:10 am

It is a brilliant time for education for your artist, telling him how there's a difference between what you print to a master and how people who play it back adjust their system. However, many artists aren't satisfied with being educated.

That being the case, acoustician Bob Hodas has come up with this recommendation for working with RAP and Hippity-Hop artists who have a habit of cranking expensive, well-balanced studio monitors until they are fried in order to get some bass "pop": Hook up a separate subwoofer and provide the artist with a send control to the subwoofer. I notice you have a 2.1 system, so that means you have a sub around. With the send, put up an album they want to emulate and get them to set the sub to match what they want to hear. Once setup, you can turn off the sub for your mixing and they can turn it back on to hear the bass "pop".

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chris harris
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Post by chris harris » Sat May 10, 2008 7:27 am

just let them get used to your monitors the same way that you should have... play some of their favorite music through your monitors.

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Jay Reynolds
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Post by Jay Reynolds » Sat May 10, 2008 7:34 am

Are the artists listening from the sweet spot on your nearfields, or are they somewhere else in the room? They may not be hearing the same thing you are when you sit at mix position. I've got the opposite problem. The couch at the back of the control room is very bass-ey. When I do have the artist in the room with me, I'll get up and let them listen from where I sit when I'm mixing.
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Post by fossiltooth » Sat May 10, 2008 8:05 am

Develop enough confidence and the client will believe you. There will be no argument. These days, my clients tend to trust my judgment. Why? Because I trust my judgment. If you truly believe what you're saying, the client will believe it too. They can smell whether or not you really trust yourself. When I was beginning, I thought I trusted myself. That's not enough. There's a big difference.

You'll also get less argument if you show the client that you and understand their concerns and that you are working toward their best interest rather than your own. If the client is second guessing you before hearing the translation for themselves, then you haven't earned their trust. If we don't earn the client's trust, that's our fault. Not theirs!


Additionally..... you might want to get some bigger speakers too! Maybe 8" ported speakers? Maybe with a sub? Maybe something even bigger and more gnarly? Sometimes you just need to blow up the client with some sound. And sometimes you need to do the same to yourself. It's fun to get your pants movin'.
Last edited by fossiltooth on Sat May 10, 2008 5:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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@?,*???&?
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Post by @?,*???&? » Sat May 10, 2008 2:58 pm

Artists talking to me when I'm mixing makes me turn their instruments down. I'll get around to their comments in time, but micromanaging the process is an insane waste of time.

Worked with one band that wanted less low-end. I muted they bass and they all responded "That's it!" then they asked what I did to the mix. The sad thing, was the bass player was in the room when I did it so the band looked like idiots to him.

Whatever. Mix how you feel is right. They hired you for some reason- right?

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Post by Mankinda » Sat May 10, 2008 4:05 pm

@?,*???&? wrote:micromanaging the process is an insane waste of time.
+1 for sure
@?,*???&? wrote:Worked with one band that wanted less low-end. I muted they bass and they all responded "That's it!" then they asked what I did to the mix. The sad thing, was the bass player was in the room when I did it so the band looked like idiots to him.
great example... its tough to not get frustrated in situations like these, because you know that to catch them up to speed with what you know of sound or to help train their ears to the level yours are at would take far more time/training than they have money to pay for...

side note: these folks can't be considered morons/idiots or else we (engineers) could not consider our knowledge/understanding exceptional, neither would our studio fees be justifiable, because if they are considered morons for not "hearing" something right, that presumes that this kind of knowledge should be commonplace... and if this audio engineering knowledge is commonplace, WE'RE the idiots for taking all those classes and having to read through all those TAPE OP mags :wink: to finally scrape up the information


Bottom line: you're not an idiot if you don't know, or cant "hear" a mix right... but you ARE an idiot if you insist on your own ill-informed opinion over the expert's...
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fossiltooth
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Post by fossiltooth » Sat May 10, 2008 5:58 pm

Mankinda wrote: these folks can't be considered morons/idiots or else we (engineers) could not consider our knowledge/understanding exceptional, neither would our studio fees be justifiable, because if they are considered morons for not "hearing" something right, that presumes that this kind of knowledge should be commonplace... and if this audio engineering knowledge is commonplace, WE'RE the idiots for taking all those classes and having to read through all those TAPE OP mags :wink: to finally scrape up the information


Bottom line: you're not an idiot if you don't know, or cant "hear" a mix right... but you ARE an idiot if you insist on your own ill-informed opinion over the expert's...
^ Yeah!
Last edited by fossiltooth on Sun May 11, 2008 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Sat May 10, 2008 7:42 pm

I always playback the mix on the BIGASS UREIS Just for the band, if they are that dumb. 15" or BIGGER!!!!

AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!

And Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always, Always,

Do this for the A&R people.

I walk out the room, and tell whomever is sitting at the desk "press spacebar please"

Then I listen down the hall. Usually whoever is in there will come out with a big smiley face.

Plus, they can't hear anything afterwards. It's very funny to see them yelling at each other after this playback nightmare. It's my funtime.
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Post by Shane Michael Rose » Sat May 10, 2008 9:43 pm

i seriously ignore these people. and then play them the same mix on a car stereo or a home stereo. if they are still freaking out, well they arent actually listening.

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@?,*???&?
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Post by @?,*???&? » Sat May 10, 2008 9:48 pm

In a similar scenario, I recall playing back and doing transfers of a Verlaines record (Way out where) and Graeme Downes was in the control room as I was doing them. Joe Chiccarelli had left by that time. Of course, mix transfers of material require X number of hours after a project is actually done and Graeme had been drinking cognac most of the night. Anyhow, at some point in the wee hours of the morning he tells me that the tape machine is running fast. I don't recall if it was our Studer or our ATR, but I do remember it was certainly not running fast- rather, it was late, he was drunk and HE was running slow.

Anyhow, ignore the artist unless they are trying to lay down the performance of their life!! Then use a net and land the big one!

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fossiltooth
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Post by fossiltooth » Sun May 11, 2008 9:54 am

@?,*???&? wrote:
Anyhow, ignore the artist unless they are trying to lay down the performance of their life!!
That goes against everything I stand for.

1) It's not cool
2) It makes people feel bad
3) ...which would cause me to get less repeat clients and referals
4) The most effective way to get someone to shut up is to attentively listen to what they're trying to say.

People repeat themselves a lot when they feel like they aren't being heard.

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