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Monitoring and levels
Old 26th August 2006
  #1
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Monitoring and levels

Bruce,
Can you please explain a little bit about your monitoring set up and your process when mixing? Levels? How much time between different sets of monitors?

How has your choice in monitors changed over the years and why?

Thanks,
Michael Greene
Old 26th August 2006
  #2
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Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

Audio Speakers & Amplifiers and volume levels in the control room....

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJGreene Audio View Post
Bruce,
Can you please explain a little bit about your monitoring set up and your process when mixing? Levels? How much time between different sets of monitors?

How has your choice in monitors changed over the years and why?

Thanks,
Michael Greene
Michael.....

Here's a start...

Audio Speakers & Amplifiers and volume levels in the control room....

Over the years I have been very fussy about the volume levels that I use in the control room. I have always tried to observe the American OSHA sound exposure standards.

I like to test my mixes at a variety of volume levels, and on a variety of different speaker systems. This will make sure that the mix will sound good anywhere. If a mix sounds good at a low SPL, it will sound great at higher levels..... Save your ears, we only get two!!!

For both recording and mixing I currently use Westlake Audios Lc3W-12 speaker systems. Glenn Phoenix of Westlake Audio called me one day and said that he had just finished a new speaker design. He suggested that I give it a serious listen. I was a bit skeptical at first about trying any new music-mixing speaker, but I should have known better than to underestimate Glenn when it comes to an audio-design issue.

Glenn brought a pair of his new speakers to the studio, so I could check them out. When I sat down at the console to listen, I was absolutely amazed! I have never heard speakers with more points of sound-source definition in the left-to-right panorama. In addition, the low end is spectacular! The scale of the soundfield is flawless.

To me, the mixing phase of my music projects is very personal and can get a bit intense. Mixing is the last phase of a project where I can make an artistic contribution to the sonics of the music, so the speakers are extremely critical to the success of the project.

Of course, any discussion of hyper-fidelity loudspeakers would be incomplete without an in-depth look at the amplifiers that drive those loudspeakers, and the wire or cable, that connect the amplifiers to the speakers, and the wire, or cable that connects those amplifiers to their source. In most cases that source would be the monitor output of an extremely high quality mixing desk.

Here’s an interesting little story that explains how I found the monitor amplifiers that I have used for music mixing for the past few years.

Early one morning, my good friend Trond Braaten called me from Fredrickstad, Norway and said that in a week he would be coming to the USA and he was going to hand carry on the plane, a very heavy Norwegian made power amplifier that was going to change my life! I thought to myself, “Yeah, sure.” Up to that point in time, all I knew about Norway could be summed up in four words! “Beautiful Boats, and SALMON!”

I Iearned something. Don’t ever underestimate the Norwegians!

A few days later Trond arrived on my doorstep, huffing and puffing, carrying an obviously extremely heavy box.(They don’t call Trond Braaten the “Norwegian Sherpa” for nothing! - “Sherpa” - Means mountain-climber from northern India, able to carry very heavy objects great disances”)

That heavy box contained a power amplifier that did change my life! I stared at the lettering on the box, and thought. “Electrocompaniet, Holy Cow! What a name! Almost impossible to pronounce.”

We hooked up the amplifier to my speakers. Great sound! Trond was right, my studio life has not been the same since! Wonderfully musical sounding amplifiers! Those amplifiers go with me to every recording project.

Here are the standard monitoring settings that I use for all my sessions. To set these values I normally use my Simpson [Type 2] SPL Meter. Or a Radio-Shack Sound Level Meter Catalogue #33-2050....

A-Mid-field monitoring - > Westlake Audio Lc3W-12s....
(Placed on top of meter over-bridge of mixing desk.)

1- To adjust the Westlake speakers for an SPL level of approximately 93 SPL -(Sound Pressure Level).

a-Set SPL meter.

1-'A' scale(OSHA).
2-speed-'slow'(OSHA).
3-range-90.

b-Play wide-range complex program material.
1-Set playback for +3 buss peaks on VU scale.

2-Observe SPL results. (+3 buss peaks = 93 SPL peaks)

c-Make mark on monitor level control.....

Note: This will result in a good loud level for mixing Popular music. It can be used for a total listening time of 4 hours of mixing per day. When I mix at this level for 2 and 1/2 hours and then take a 30 minute break, I don’t experience any ear fatigue when using my Westlake Lc3W-12’s.

Note: If lower record buss levels are to be used, adjust SPL resultant peaks accordingly.
e. g.-If absolute '0' VU buss peaks are to be recorded, then add 3 db of monitor level before marking the monitor level control.

B-Near-field monitoring - > Auratones....
(Placed on top of meter over-bridge on mixing desk.)

1-To adjust the Auratone speakers for an SPL level of approximately 83 spl.

a-Set SPL meter.

1-'A' scale(OSHA).
2-speed-'slow'(OSHA).
3-range-80.

b-Play wide-range complex program material.
1-Set playback for +3 buss peaks on VU scale.

2-Observe SPL results. (+3 buss peaks=83 SPL peaks)

c-Make mark on monitor level control.
Note: This will result in a good Auratone level for mixing Popular music. It can be used for a total listening time of 8 hours of mixing per day. If lower record buss levels are to be used, adjust SPL resultant peaks accordingly.

e. g.- If absolute '0' VU buss peaks are to be recorded, then add 3 db of monitor level when marking the monitor level control.

Do not monitor at extremely high speaker levels. You should be able to carry on a conversation in the control room while you are mixing. If you have to shout to be heard, turn down the speaker level. You will only get one set of ear drums in your lifetime, treat them like the precious things that they are. Who knows, they might be worth a million dollars some day. Go easy on your ears. Permanent hearing loss can occur very quickly in a control room, especially with some of the new, super high-powered monitor systems in use in modern studios today.

That's a start.......

Bruce Swedien






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Old 28th August 2006
  #3
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Good God!!!! Thanks you so very much. I never expected something so complete. Also as a side note, I met you once in about 1989 at a UCLA extension class at Oceanway with Allen Sides. You were literally walking through for something else and spent about a half hour just taking and shooting the breeze and taking questions. To this day it was still one of the highlights of my career.

Thank you for your time then and now. And thank you for "Paying it forward" as they say!!!

Michael Greene
Old 31st August 2006
  #4
Thankyou Bruce.

In a single post, you just answered about 20 questions I've often meant to post elsewhere!
Old 4th September 2006
  #5
vls
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vls's Avatar
 

Hi!

I'm monitoring with Adam P22A's and a Adam Sub12 Subwoofer [electronic music material is played]. When the SPL meter set to A/SLOW, it shows around 83-85 dB, A/FAST shows peaks up to 86-87 dB. When setting the SPL-Meter to C/SLOW, it goes up to 95 and more dB. Am I hearing to loud?

Thanks,

Volker
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