The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Question for Bob Katz regarding getting mixes right before the mastering session Studio Monitors
Old 24th March 2006
Gear maniac
echo unit's Avatar

Thread Starter
Question for Bob Katz regarding getting mixes right before the mastering session

Greetings Bob,

Much of your advice on these great posts here make sense to me. I wanted to tell you about my specific situation over the last 5 years and see if you have any suggestions that may help me to make some improvements to my recorded music.

I record all real instrumetns using a variety of condensor and ribbon mics. I use Neve Portico preamps to record everything into Apogee A/D convertors. The Portico made an improvement to my problem comapred to the vintage Neve 10 series preamps I was using previously. The Portico is more versatlile and offers the HPF, very useful. I record without EQ except now with the Portico, I will roll off the low end on some instrumetns like guitars @ 60Hz, vocals @ 80Hz, Bass guitar @ 40Hz and so on.

When I mix, I put all the faders up at the same time, everything in mono. Fist I balance the levels of the tracks in mono. Then, I pan every track into different locations in the stereo feild. After, I start applying EQ and compression last to tracks. I rarely do any boosting of frequencies with the EQ's on seperate tracks in my mix. Most of my eq is high pass filtering at different points for different instrumetns so they sit together better and some carving out of certain frequencies in certain instrumetns to allow other instruments that are competing for that sonic territory to be heard more clearly. Much of this bell curve cutting at spots seems to be in the lower mids and mid range area between 200Hz and 1000Hz mainly. Cardboard kick drum sounds at 300-400Hz are taken out more than other stuff. Low mids in guitars I attenuate a bit and I usually scoop the bass guitar out a very narrow bit where the kick drum is stronger maybe 100Hz.

My room is treated with an acoustical cloud over my mix position, bass traps in the corners and rugs on the walls kill all the standing waves. I monitor my mixes using Event 20/20 powered monitors. My mix position is set up very well. Spearkers are well away from walls and the mix position is an equalateral triangle.

When it comes time to master my stuff, it's always the same story no matter who masters it. They usually roll off the entire mix @ 40Hz and then they end up having to use a low shelf EQ cutting anywhere from 2.5 to 4 dB at 200-400Hz to get the mix to sound normal and not overpowering in the bottom end and comepltely muddy and undefined in the bottom which is how my mixes translate onto other systems. I am not sure if this is normal? I am not adding low end with EQ in my mixes so where the heck is all this low end coming from? I am using HPF on every single track to delete the unwanted frequencies that are useless and make instrumetns more undefined.

I would like it so that when I mix my stuff, it sounds right and the mastering engineer is just touching up and not doing such a radical thing to my low end and let me tell you.... that low shelf eq which has been the only solution by the way really ****s up the entire mix and screws with the entire low end of the mix scewing up frequencies that need to be heard more but can't because them ones around them need to be attenuated because they are overpowerng and they will make the speakers in your car rattel and shake if not attenuated with a pretty big low shelf EQ. Peaking EQ never does as good a job in my situation as the Shelving does. They both ruin the mix but the shelving cut seems to sound a bit more natural than the peaking cut does. The midrange and upper mids get screwed up and sound harsh after the low end is fixed and then it's on to fixing the Midrange with another band of EQ. AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Any help, advice or ideas on what I could do to improve this situation which has been going on for a long time now would be of great help. Any gear changes or working method changes would be nice to know about if you thing that is the problem. I just can't seem to shake this low end thing so that I turn up with tracks at mastering time that have the right bottom end in them.

Thanks Bob for taking th time to read this. I know you are busy.
Old 24th March 2006
Gear addict
phelbin's Avatar

I'm not Bob Katz, but I'd like to offer an opinion...I hope that's ok.

Have you considered using different monitors? I have a pair of Event 20/20's that my partner bought on a whim. They sit next to my trusty NS10's and don't get used until the very end of the mixing process for comparison. I like to call them "the exciting speakers." They're definitely very flattering. I don't have a good pair of mains for the purpose of impressing clients, so I use the Events.

But in your mixing, it might help to spend more time listening on something a bit more accurate...Genelecs, NS10's, etc.

Old 24th March 2006
Lives for gear
gsilbers's Avatar

ditto, a better/other pair of monitors.

try experimenting when mixing. try adding an EQ to the master out at the begginging of your mix with the curves similar to whaT the mastering engineer was doing to help your mixes. if they turn out better maybe is the combination of your room and monitors that gives u those issues.

there are programs out there that will give u frequency tone sweeps -20 - 20k
and will give a freq response of your room and youll know the unwanted resonances.
Old 24th March 2006
Lives for gear
abit's Avatar

A/B stuff, listen good commercial tracks(better in similar style).
Learn your speakers and your room.
Then U might notice why it happens 2U.
My .02.
Old 25th March 2006
Gear maniac

Perhaps your room treatment is not as successful as you think.
Old 25th March 2006
Lives for gear
abit's Avatar

Sub might help a lot.
It's very common, when U mix,
U do it with a nice fat low range and it's sounds good to U.

But it doesn't mean that this is what really happening with your mix.
So, by adding a sub and a substantial amount of lows that go with it,
U eventually not going to push lows as much as U did.

Listen a lot of music on your system.
Listen a lot of music on your system.

I never experienced 20/20 but may be it's not your pair.

When I started I had the same problem,
trying to squeeze bass out of ns10,
while it's just never been there and I had very boomy mixes.
Old 26th March 2006
Gear maniac
echo unit's Avatar

Thread Starter
Hey Bob,

What's your opnion of my situation?

Do you think the Event 20/20's are only going to ever produce a failed, inaccurate mix or would you say the room is the bigger problem or the gear i am using to record with?

Would a set of Dynaudio monitors produce a more accurate and less overpowering low end than my Events? I was thinking about getting the BM5A's or the 6A's. They seem to be the best monitors for the money at the moment?

Any opinions would be grand.
Old 26th March 2006
Gear addict

Not the Bob you wan't an answer from but.....I think you have alot of great gear so I don't think gear is the issue here..I would agree with the others that its either monitoring or methods..My room is far from perfect accoustically but I listen to commercial mixes frequently to keep myself in check so I don't ride the EQ curve of my monitors and unbalanced room.
Consequently..Dynaudio's are great monitors..and maybee your current monitors are not working for you, a sub can help but they can also create more problems as they can solve unless its tuned perfectly, mine is currently unpluged until I can tune it properly. Sometimes when I think old gear isn't working for me I sell it or replace it and it helps but usually the new gear only breaks me out of a bad habit or turns on the lights and usually when everything is said and done I probably could live with the old thing-me-jig with what I learned from the new thing.
Old 27th March 2006

Originally Posted by echo unit
Hey Bob,

What's your opnion of my situation?

Do you think the Event 20/20's are only going to ever produce a failed, inaccurate mix or would you say the room is the bigger problem or the gear i am using to record with?

Would a set of Dynaudio monitors produce a more accurate and less overpowering low end than my Events? I was thinking about getting the BM5A's or the 6A's. They seem to be the best monitors for the money at the moment?

Any opinions would be grand.

I've been away in Montreal giving a seminar on "Turning down the volume" at the ASPR meeting. Cold city but warm people!

So many of the others in this thread have hit the needle on the head. My experience with the 20/20's is that they are bright and thin, sounds like your mastering engineers are reacting to your mixes done on those speakers. I know you've worked hard to use high pass filters and all the rest in your mix but have you visited any of those mastering studios to hear what your mixes really sound like?

Though sometimes a mastering engineer will roll off the bottom just in an attempt to get more level in the master. I discourage that practice, it probably means you're mastering at too hot a level in the first place. It's all part of the fact that the loudness race has raised the level almost 20 dB in 20 years!
Old 27th March 2006
Gear interested

I know they've all said it but I'll say the same thing. I used to used 20/20 bas and before that passive 20/20s. I used subs at certain points in that. I ALWAYS had problems with low end.

About a year ago I got rid of them, and my sub and got some better monitors. Since then my low end problems have gone away. the sub made me hear more lows (and you'd think that would fix the problem) but it didn't it just made the low end weird and the guessing game continued.
Old 27th March 2006
Gear addict

We share the same monitors. And, yes, they are the issue you are having.
That, and any nulls you haven't come aware of.

I don't agree with A/B - ing with other records.

A.) It's going to slow you down. It's going to slow you down further if
you try matching your mix (which will have been recorded under a laundry list of
completely different circumstances).

B.) You can't a/b problem frequencies, because they aren't being reproduced.
You can judge based on the harmonic content, and how other frequencies are
being effected; but, unless the situation involves
the same kick drum/signal chain/etc. and the same corresponding
instrumentation, you won't have something exact to gauge upon.

Mixing on the Events, I originally found myself with mixes that were dull to the point of shelving down to 14.5 khz (at least) and punchy and thuddy as hell.
Like NS-10's, you can get used to them. But I know I'll have to ditch these when I start getting more proffesional at-home jobs.

Old 29th March 2006
Gear maniac
echo unit's Avatar

Thread Starter
You guys are awesome! Thanks a lot for all the replies! And thank you Bob Katz!


What monitors did you get to replace the 20/20's that were giving you trouble?


What monitors do you think will help to give you a more accurate mix?

Bob Katz,

Many feel that it is my monitors that are giving me trouble. i tend to agree with that and I am now seeking a new pair but i would like to keep the cost down.

Is there a pair of monitors that you can recommend that are around $1000 for a pair or is that price limit just too low to get anything that will give me an accurate mix?

Many people seem to like the newer Dynaudio BM5A monitors and feel that these give a very accurate mix. Have you heard these and if so do you have any comments on their performance?

Thanks a ton folks!
Old 29th March 2006
Gear addict

Well, honestly, it doesn't make sense for me to upgrade with regards to the rest of my gear and my temporary "room". Also, ideal nearfields are just a little too large in size. Anything I'm currently working on won't bring the bread to constitute an upgrade, either.

I am developing my business plan for a specialized and dedicated situation.
If I decide that my plans are feasible, I won't have too much trouble raising the small amount of funds I foresee.

Honestly, it comes down to preference. With my budget, I'd be looking at an Adams model. I have the model number written down, but it's not on hand.
So, this doesn't really answer your question, as I'm under the impression that the
Adams models vary in character.

Old 29th March 2006
Lives for gear
abit's Avatar

I heard dyns5a - didn't like them,
While 15th dyns are good.
I trust quested.
It always good idea to go to places and listen different stuff.
Old 29th March 2006
Lives for gear
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
I am not Bob K, but....

It sounds like you are doing most things right.

You did not tell us anything about the dimensions of your room, but my guess is that you have bass problems in your room, and that bass frequencies are being attenuated in the room at the mix position. This makes it difficult to make good jugements about your low end while you are mixing.

Unfortunately fixing bass problem in a room can be expensive and difficult.

Listening to lots of music in your room is very helpful and its very helpful to compare your mixes to other CDs that you know well. I mix in studios all over the world and I do this all the time to help me learn rooms. I even do it in my own room every day I am mixing.

The Event 20/20bas are great monitors. I was involved in a shoot out where we compared them to about a dozen other speakers, most of which were much more expensive than the 20/20bas and the Events came in second in my opinion (beat out by other Events). I have mixed about 100 records on them and a couple of my pals have done several platinum records on them. I would never discribe them as bright and thin by any means. if anything a little too much the opposite.
Old 29th March 2006
Lives for gear
matucha's Avatar
The amount of distortion clouding my old 20/20p wasn't exactly the best for making a good mixes. It was very hard to judge hights, I always made them somewhat strange and couldn't get it right... until I bought S3A and found out how wrong were 20/20. (note that I had similar expirience with B&W matrix 801 mkIII then, compared to S3A ;-) ).

Definitely change your monitors if you can.
Old 29th March 2006
Gear addict

Half of my reply disappeared. ?

But the gist of it was that many people use those 20/20's,
they can be worked around.

Something of a NS-10's of the modern era.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.

Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread Starter / Forum
RooF / So much gear, so little time
RainbowStorm / Mastering forum
dangeorge6 / So much gear, so little time

Forum Jump
Forum Jump