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Old 20th September 2019
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by Mark Alpine View Post
All in all, after hearing what problems your facing (small budget, not allowed to drill into walls/ceiling, not being able do too much yourself - thinking of hiring a carpenter), and the fact that your room is practically a cube (which would require a lot of treatment to get right), I think you will be better off (and happier in the long run) with a good pair of headphones. My 2 cents.

My initial estimate on my studio build (two huge bass traps filled with hemp, four floor-ceiling broadband absorbers) will probably set me back some 500-600 euros (the Hemp costing about half of that). And that's just a start. I already have all the tools I need to construct these things...

Think long and hard if you're really spending your cash on the right thing. A good pair of cans cost 150-300 euro.
Actually, I think you'll find that most mix engineers, producers, acousticians, and musicians would not agree with that: you cannot mix on headphones the same way you can mix on speakers, because of psycho-acoustics. With headphones, each ear hears only one speaker, 100% direct sound, and hears nothing from the other speaker, or the low-level ambiance of the room. So there is no ability to localize sound the same way that people localize it in normal rooms. In other words, with headphones the music sound like it is all inside your head, between your ears: the sound stage only extends from ear to ear, since that's the full width of the stereo image. With speakers, the sound is "around" you: your left ear hears some of the sound from the right speaker, and vice versa, so your brain has a sensation of the sound being outside your head, not inside it: the stereo image and sound stage cover the full width of the distance between the speakers and possibly more too, so there is a sense of detail, direction, and "air" that it is physically impossible to experience on headphones.

OK, let me temper that with a little more explanation to clarify, before the purists climb in and say "that's wrong! yu can make it sound bigger!". With headphones, yes, it is possible to SIMULATE an experience where the sound seems to be coming from outside your head, by carefully manipulating the signals sent to each ear, to add the subtle variations in frequency, phase, lelve, and timing that your brain uses to determine space.... but you can't mix like that! That's the point I'm making: your ears must hear the actual, real direct sound from the speakers, plus a little of the room ambience, to provide the pleasant, neutral, natural, clean, uncolored sound that you need to mix and master. You can fake some of the missing information to fool your brain electronically, but if you try to mix like that, you will fail and your mixes will not translate, because anyone listening on typical speakers in a typical acoustic space (house, car, office, shop, club, church, etc.) would say that it just sounds weird...

If it was possible to mix wonderfully on cans, I think the major studios, producers, mix engineers, musicians, mastering engineers, song writers, and others would have figured it out by now, and they would not bother spending big money making carefully designed and tuned control rooms.

- Stuart -