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Replacement for Car Checks Studio Monitors
Old 28th April 2015
  #1
Replacement for Car Checks

Car checks are a big part of my mixing process. I don't feel comfortable sending off a mix before I've heard it in the car a couple times at least. It's my most trusted reference in terms of low end content.
Unfortunately, I will be moving to New York in a few months, and will be selling my car when I do. What can I possibly do to replace car checks? Have any of you successfully moved away from car checks for similar reasons? If so, how?
I was thinking maybe buying some really bass-hyped consumer headphones might do the trick.
I get the bass right 97% of the time with just my Focal's, but those tracks with a lot of sub-40hz content still come around every now and again, and Hi-Passing isn't always the appropriate solution for me, sometimes I want those low end harmonics to be present, just more controlled, rather than filtered out altogether. That is where my car comes in, but that will be leaving my possession very shortly. I need a solution soon, one I can start practicing, be it a new method, or new reference source to learn, so that I may build the confidence to work without car checks altogether.
Old 28th April 2015
  #2
Hall checks.

Take a pad of paper and and a pen and listen out of direct range of the speakers in the next room or hallway. Rule - you can't be in eyesight of the speakers, you must be "around the corner". I used to make my clients (bands) do this and I would join them.
Old 28th April 2015
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Hall checks.

Take a pad of paper and and a pen and listen out of direct range of the speakers in the next room or hallway. Rule - you can't be in eyesight of the speakers, you must be "around the corner". I used to make my clients (bands) do this and I would join them.
Interesting. There is a garage right below my studio, and going down there, I can actually hear exaggerated sub frequency energy that is not always obvious in the room. I will have to try this in the landing outside my studio or in the adjacent staircase (the closest thing I have to a hallway), to see if I get similar information. Thank you for the tip.
Old 28th April 2015
  #4
Come to think of it, even going into the bathroom attached to my studio allows me to hear plenty of exaggerated low end info. Idk why I never thought to use this to my advantage
Old 28th April 2015
  #5
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Silent Sound's Avatar
I have a few home theater style stereos in different rooms that I use. The way I see it, the room and the speakers both play a big role in the sound you hear, so changing as many variables as possible is always a good thing. Besides, I know these rooms and speakers well and have listened to tons of other music on them, so I'm familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. To me, that's the best part about using my car stereo to check a mix. I listen to music on it everyday, so I'm extremely familiar with the "room" and speakers.
Old 28th April 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
I bought a Klipsch KMC 3 for a party outdoor boom box for boys weekends.

Fidelity isn't amazing, but the bottom end is massive for a (relativity) small speaker.
Old 28th April 2015
  #7
Just keep going to different car dealerships with media in hand... the car stereo quality is a major component of your "purchase."
Old 28th April 2015
  #8
I've never been able to come up with a replacement for car checks, and I don't think listening around the corner (while a good idea that I also do) is the same thing. In your car, you have a small enclosed space with mostly rounded angles and a fair amount of absorbtion. My car stereo seems to exaggerate the bass and low mids, revealing slight problems I haven't yet learned how to detect on other systems.
Old 28th April 2015
  #9
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mbvoxx's Avatar
I read once that Roy Thomas Baker used to mix on car stereo speakers to get the mix dialed in and always thought that sounded like a good idea. Auratones are close to that but a smaller speaker may be even better. Maybe the closest thing to that now is a set of
smallish computer desktop speakers.
When analog and tape were the standard we would capture test mixes on cassettes and go out to the car and listen in the studio parking lot, make notes, then come back in and remix. I still have a CD/Cassette player in my truck and sometimes I car test with a cassette just because it's easier to record over the tape than burning cd after cd as I'm tweaking a mix. It's a bit hissy but I still get what I need from it for tweaking.
Old 28th April 2015
  #10
I've got a small portable battery operated Tascam digital recorder just for the purpose of going back and forth from the car. My car stereo has an auxilary input. The reason the car works has more to do with the shape of the enclosed space than the speakers. If you moved the very same car speakers and receiver/amp into the studio, it would not function the same at all (I actually tried this once long ago).
Old 28th April 2015
  #11
Lives for gear
 

I'd say, don't worry.... when you move to New York, you'll meet someone with a car. Depending on their connection, aux/cd player/ cassette player , you'll have what you need for testing.

I'd say though, "car checks" are SO 20th century. As was being discussed last week on an audiophile/mastering forum I regularly visit, 21st century protocol is "earbuds check". Invest in a bunch of variations of those if you haven't already and maybe move into that mindset.

Having said that, I've done car checks since 8-tracks were standard fare in cars. I still do them and will probably never change. But then, I live in LA.
Old 28th April 2015
  #12
Here for the gear
 

I use Airfoil to stream my mix to my iPhone now and find that the tiny phone speakers are very revealing. This has eliminated the need for a car check for me.
Old 1st May 2015
  #13
All very helpful, thanks a bunch guys. I am getting better and better at the low end with my Solo's (I'm still pretty new to them), and I find I am catching many of the issues I would normally catch in my car with my Focal Spirit Pro cans, which is building some confidence. Apple Earpods and my friends terrible Beats headphones have been great reference checks as well. I do agree though, there is just something about car checks that can't be replaced. I actually know of a guy who has a stripped down car chassis in a room of his studio that he checks his mixes on. At the end of the day, people still drive, and the unique acoustic nature of car cabins is hard to emulate anywhere else; closed back headphones with exaggerated low end seem to come closest in my experience, but still aren't exactly the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aural Endeavors View Post
Just keep going to different car dealerships with media in hand... the car stereo quality is a major component of your "purchase."
This is a great idea lol!
Old 1st May 2015
  #14
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loujudson's Avatar
Wouldn't the modern equivalent be iphone earbuds? I have never used them, but prhaps mpre people will hear you mix on earbuds than car stereos...

Just a thought.
Old 1st May 2015
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
Wouldn't the modern equivalent be iphone earbuds? I have never used them, but prhaps mpre people will hear you mix on earbuds than car stereos...

Just a thought.
Literally just said I already use them in a previous post, but I respectfully disagree with this notion. It is an important reference for how the average listener will hear your music, but it is not the same as car stereo checks, people didn't stop blasting music in their cars when apple released the iPod, and I have experienced pleasing low end on Apple earpods that wasn't so pleasing when played in a car.
Old 2nd May 2015
  #16
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
just got back from having lunch with a friend, i am working on his daughters music, and had a listen in his car after .. i so miss that .. my car stereo is garbage right now .. i made 2 slightly different mixes and was nice to hear the difference instantly .. just dropped a little 500hz by a db ..

when you are in your car are you listening flat or are you listening with EQ that makes commercial music sound correct in your Mobile Box .. Car .. my buddy had the low end at 0 but had his high end cranked to +5 (max) and it sounded correct ..

good thread ... cheers john

and fyi: the Hall works great .. i use the garage below and the washroom as my hall ..

also: earbuds everyday .. good to know if you are blowing up your Lowend ..
Old 3rd May 2015
  #17
270182
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnBoy View Post
Car checks are a big part of my mixing process. I don't feel comfortable sending off a mix before I've heard it in the car a couple times at least. It's my most trusted reference in terms of low end content.
Unfortunately, I will be moving to New York in a few months, and will be selling my car when I do. What can I possibly do to replace car checks? Have any of you successfully moved away from car checks for similar reasons? If so, how?
I was thinking maybe buying some really bass-hyped consumer headphones might do the trick.
I get the bass right 97% of the time with just my Focal's, but those tracks with a lot of sub-40hz content still come around every now and again, and Hi-Passing isn't always the appropriate solution for me, sometimes I want those low end harmonics to be present, just more controlled, rather than filtered out altogether. That is where my car comes in, but that will be leaving my possession very shortly. I need a solution soon, one I can start practicing, be it a new method, or new reference source to learn, so that I may build the confidence to work without car checks altogether.
Perhaps you should get a car you are familiar with, put your fav stereo in it, park it, drain it in a room off to the side of your studio. Connect the audio system to your DAW, use an iPad to control the transport and mix in the car.
Old 3rd May 2015
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
just got back from having lunch with a friend, i am working on his daughters music, and had a listen in his car after .. i so miss that .. my car stereo is garbage right now .. i made 2 slightly different mixes and was nice to hear the difference instantly .. just dropped a little 500hz by a db ..

when you are in your car are you listening flat or are you listening with EQ that makes commercial music sound correct in your Mobile Box .. Car .. my buddy had the low end at 0 but had his high end cranked to +5 (max) and it sounded correct ..

good thread ... cheers john

and fyi: the Hall works great .. i use the garage below and the washroom as my hall ..

also: earbuds everyday .. good to know if you are blowing up your Lowend ..
Thanks man, I have had my current car for about 7 years, and to this day it is one of the best stock car stereos I've heard, and now know it's sound intimately.
I been getting better with the low end without it this past week. I've been going much longer between car checks, and when I do find something wrong, I look for that same flaw on other references before I fix it, in an effort to learn how to better catch it before the car check (or without it). So far my Focal Spirit headphones have been a big help, and the hall checks really do help as well. Only five days into this new approach, but I think am getting more comfortable.

Also, I think I can just hire an Uber driver to drive me around and blast my music in their car if I really feel like I need it when I get to NY lol
Old 5th May 2015
  #19
Gear Head
 

I don't think there is any suitable replacement and should just be included as another "check"

My car speakers are notoriously undetailed. They sound great, and I have a 12" sub, but they lack detail.

The sub helps to confirm what is going on in that region as sometimes I can miss out on that flabbiness that occurs. But the loss in detail I get is always a shock especially after a long mixing session. I find it best to get some sleep, then do a car test.
Old 5th May 2015
  #20
Seriously, someone should invent and produce a semi-rounded enclosed shell type thing (a pseudo car) with room for one seat inside, with a fairly good car stereo installed in it. I'd buy one and set it up right outside the control room.
Old 5th May 2015
  #21
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
it is called a Smart Car .. haha
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