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Must I compromise on Audio or Ergonomics?
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balaftun
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13th January 2008
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Must I compromise on Audio or Ergonomics?

Hello.

This is my mixing area (and while I prefer giving mastering jobs for others, I end up doing quite a bit of mastering here too).

Altough I have heard many great CDs that were done in places where the speakers were on a shelf, I understand it's better for them to be on stands.



Problem is that if I put them on stands (and say byebye to my desk), the screens will be somewhere between my ears and speakers, which is also not a good solution.

I saw the photo of studio A in Bob Katz's book, and while this is a solution in terms of sound, in terms of ergonomic, it looks to me like a disaster.

In fact most control room photos that I saw are either an audio or ergonomic compromise.

Any ideas?

Thanks.
Shay.
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I think that sacrificing audio for ergonomics isn't wise in this business. Ultimately when someone listens to a record they can't hear how ergonomic the setup is, only if the audio affects them or not.

Ergonomics is partially the result of knowing where everything is at and how to use it. Once you have a setup in place and you learn it the quicker and efficient work flow will come from doing.
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James, Obviously the sound is important, but, as it happened to a friend of mine - if due to bad ergonomics, you suffer, and cannot work for 6 months.. I was just wondering if there is a smart way of doing things, minimizing the compromise in both audio and ergonomics.
Thanks
Shay.
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Ergonomics if is just a bit of audio compromise!! if you are confortable and have everything in control and handy ..you can work better!

of course as long as ergonomics are not over the top and compromising crucial aspects!
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Also why u can not have stands and a desk????

and why the monitors can not be in the center or over the desk without being across the speakers??

remove the base of the monitors to be lowerput them a bit forward
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMIEL View Post
Also why u can not have stands and a desk????
While many experts (who know about this much more than I ever will) have told me that I can have the stands behind the desk, I find it hard to believe that this desk, between the speakers and my ears, even though it's lower, will not affect the accuracy of my monitoring system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AMIEL View Post
and why the monitors can not be in the center or over the desk without being across the speakers??
remove the base of the monitors to be lowerput them a bit forward
Over the desk is too far from the eyes, removing the base of the screens means they are too low, and you have to look down, which is not ergonomic.

Many thanks.
Shay.
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I have monitors on desks too but a very thick marble is between the monitors and desk. I still don't like it because I realized (at least for me) the sub that effect the desk is felt from my hand while mixing(from the mouse I mean). This harms my judgement of balancing the sub-bass area. I have p11a so this should be even worse for you.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I have monitors on desks too but a very thick marble is between the monitors and desk. I still don't like it because I realized (at least for me) the sub that effect the desk is felt from my hand while mixing(from the mouse I mean). This harms my judgement of balancing the sub-bass area. I have p11a so this should be even worse for you.

actually the bottom of all the surfaces of the desk has a layer of led,
so it doesn't vibrate (if I understood your post correctly, that was the problem you refered to. ).
Thanks.
Shay.
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I see setups all the time where compromises have been made in order to accommodate video monitors. It's a cunnundrum of the DAW era. I personally prefer to have the video monitor behind the near fields, I find that if the speakers are behind the monitor, the audio is affected in a negative way. I think if you're going to use mid-field monitors, you have to either invest in a larger monitor, which can be placed farther back (one local studio has a 36" LCD tv used for pro-tools, which is a little odd at first, but allows it to be several feet behind the monitors,) or setup so that it doesn't get in the way. It seems that SAE mastering here in town has a small monitor on the desk (like a 10" screen) well below the egeineer's ear-level, the speakers are floor to ceiling models in the far corners, with a second monitor to the engineer's far left, almost behind him. Of course, they're a mastering facility, so the computers are used primarily for sequencing and as simple two-track recording devices. If you're doing 64 channels in pro-tools, these small monitors would be a pain.

The most optimal setup would probably be video monitors at a very low angle, sunk into the desk. From an ergonomic perspective, having the monitors at or above eye level is actually hard on the neck. I don't know too many people who would hold a book or newspaper straight up in front of them at eye-level. A monitor should be placed at the same angle and approximate distance that you'd hold a newspaper, perhaps farther back if large enough to be comfortably viewed.
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John. What you are saying is contradictory to what I heard about screens position,
but is very good news, since it means that no compromise should be made - I can have the speakers on stands,
and the screens near me, at the paper reading position which is way lower than the speakers.
Thanks!
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Who has a hundred grand laying around? I will build a DAW interface using Microsoft's "Surface" and everthing will be out of your way. (Of course we will will have deal with the flat reflective top, but one thing at a time!)
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14th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balaftun View Post

I saw the photo of studio A in Bob Katz's book, and while this is a solution in terms of sound, in terms of ergonomic, it looks to me like a disaster.

In fact most control room photos that I saw are either an audio or ergonomic compromise.

Any ideas?

Thanks.
Shay.
Yes, for mixing, the ergonomic of my Studio A would be a disaster. But for mastering, a number of people have adopted this approach. I can reach all the outboard, I can see the computer, and I keep a wireless keyboard with trackpad I largely keep on my knees. Doug Sax's room in Ojai has (reportedly) an open area in front for perfect listening and all the equipment is behind him and he has an assistant operate it. That's the story I heard. But regardless, it may be an ergonomic problem, but it's a great acoustic issue.

In our studio B we've taken the approach of improving the ergonomics for mixing and slightly compromising the audio, but I can tell you the audio in there is excellent, because we've reduced early reflections considerably, the desk angle and height is optimized, its size is as small as possible, and the video monitors are flush with the desk top and do not form an obstacle. The outboard gear racks are rolling low-boys, one on each side of the mix engineer below his knees. And a third tall rack behind him with equipment that's not touched as often, that he can reach by swiveling his chair backwards.

So, the short answer to your question is that audio has to be slightly sacrificed for ergonomics, but it doesn't have to be much of a sacrifice if you do it right.

BK
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balaftun
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Dear Bob.

Sounds like what i need is close to what you have in studio B (ok, with cheaper stuff, but same idea regarding ergo.

Is there by any chance a photo of studio B anywhere?


All the best.
Shay.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsmith View Post
Who has a hundred grand laying around? I will build a DAW interface using Microsoft's "Surface" and everthing will be out of your way. (Of course we will will have deal with the flat reflective top, but one thing at a time!)
phew! that surface looks so cool! 100K you say..
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsmith View Post
Who has a hundred grand laying around? I will build a DAW interface using Microsoft's "Surface" and everthing will be out of your way. (Of course we will will have deal with the flat reflective top, but one thing at a time!)

was doing a little search, found info saying it's actually going to be around $10K! I'd still rather buy a few mics for that money, but.. it's worth drooling on.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balaftun View Post
Dear Bob.

Sounds like what i need is close to what you have in studio B (ok, with cheaper stuff, but same idea regarding ergo.

Is there by any chance a photo of studio B anywhere?


All the best.
Shay.
Good idea. I've been meaning to take a good photo, but I'm waiting till my API 2500 and 5500 arrive for STudio A, then we move the Trakkers and a Pendulum OCL-2 into B and the studio will be ready for a nice photo!

BK
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Wow! The Microsoft Surface is impressive.

I wonder if I'll be able to calibrate my ATR 1/2 with it? I wonder if they have something like a D to A/A to D device?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Krehm View Post
Wow! The Microsoft Surface is impressive.

I wonder if I'll be able to calibrate my ATR 1/2 with it? I wonder if they have something like a D to A/A to D device?
I think it would be cheaper to hire an assistant with a screwdriver while you tell him how to turn the knobs!

BK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
I think it would be cheaper to hire an assistant with a screwdriver while you tell him how to turn the knobs!

BK
Ha, ha! I already have one but he knows a lot more about it than I do.

But come on, you've got to admit touching that screen and changing your mastering world has to have some appeal.
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I haven't sacrificed ergonomics OR acoustics, but I guess we are one of the fortunate ones to be able to do that. There are no LCD monitors sticking up and no reflective surfaces that measurably interfere with the acoustics

Regards,
Bruce
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSD_Mastering View Post
I haven't sacrificed ergonomics OR acoustics, but I guess we are one of the fortunate ones to be able to do that. There are no LCD monitors sticking up and no reflective surfaces that measurably interfere with the acoustics

Regards,
Bruce
Oh my... a perfect studio! I've never seen (or heard) one. Even in our "perfect" studio A there are some audible (and measurable) compromises, but they are EXTREMELY small. C'mon Bruce, where are your little bodies buried? :-).

BK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
Oh my... a perfect studio! I've never seen (or heard) one.

C'mon Bruce, where are your little bodies buried? :-).
BK
Oh Bob... there are plenty of things that are not perfect in my world. I could list a half dozen things that I "should" have done better. I'll do better next time, I promise.

The crawl space under my home has a 7 foot ceiling height. That's where I store all my boxes/crates and Bodies!!

Regards,
Bruce
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I took Mr. Katz Approach
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Georgetown Masters has been in operation with this layout since Denny Purcell opened the room in 1984!
It's a great way to listen. The better you can hear, it's much more important in mastering. Where are the controls of the processors, Bob O.?

BK
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You just turn around to adjust them.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
You just turn around to adjust them.
And for me that means seriously compromised ergonomics. Obviously OMMV!

Best regards,
Steve Berson
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To the original poster, I'd offer a few thoughts

1. if the computer screens are between the speakers, but not really obscuring the path between you and the monitors, it might not be worth losing quite so much sleep over. Their presence there might have more of a psychosomatic effect than a true acoustic one, since they appear to exist where your brain perceives some of the sounds to be coming from. Obviously, they might really be in the way ... just sayin'.

2. if you're going to continue using the same, flat desk for your screens, keyboards and clutter <g> with the speakers on stands right behind it, you might not sufficiently improve (heck, could even exacerbate) any existing problems with reflections off the desk's surface.

3. if you're looking to improve your monitoring setup, there's been some good advice given here, and you seem familiar with some of the other things you could do. If, however, you're doing well with your monitoring in there, get great mix translation despite the issues, know it like the back of your hand, etc.. and are only looking to mess with it because you think that you "should" in order to feel less apologetic about your occasional mastering work, you might reconsider, and trust your strengths until you're ready to make a more wholesale change in your working setup.

MMV, of course. But best of luck!

-dave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
I'm waiting till my API 2500 and 5500 arrive for STudio A, then we move the Trakkers and a Pendulum OCL-2 into BK
OT but I'm interested if this means you'll replace the Trakkers and the OCL-2 with the 2500 for your day to day mastering duties?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
And for me that means seriously compromised ergonomics. Obviously OMMV!

Best regards,
Steve Berson
I tend to agree with STeve. But I'm not adding ANY more processors in front of me. I'm now working on adding something to the side if necessary.

The lowboy rack in front of me in Studio A has no audible effect on the early reflections from about 100 Hz on up due to its height, angles involved and its size, but it does have a measurable effect on the bass response to the ears and I had to compensate for it. There's no such thing as a free lunch!

BK
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