Mixes not doing so good

Room tuning?

I was curious if any of you guys mix each others stuff via e-mail. I’m having the typical trouble i’m sure most everybody else has had at some point. My stuff will sound good (according to me anyway :D ) in my monitors & my shelf stereo then, put it in my truck stereo, my walkman or somebody elses stereo…STIIIIIIIIIIINK!!! I’ve padded up my room <----now that duz sound psycho don’t it! :p anyway i did that to control the echo i was getting from sheetrock walls. I used some 1" x 2’ x 5’ foam strips & a couple of old sleeping bags & it works to control the echo just fine but i still have the problem of moving around the room & getting that heavier bass response over here & over there. I listen to a lot of stuff (comercial CD’s) through my monitors & think my stuff is pretty equal EQ wise to that but other systems sure says it’s not. 1 of my problems may be that i still haven’t learned to make things sit in the mix in it’s own place. i don’t know alot about the frequencies & all that stuff yet. I know i heard some good recordings from links on this forum & 1 that i heard, i don’t remember who posted it, wasn’t my kind of music, it was more of a pop song, but that recording was absolutely incredible, it was pristine!! can anybody help me out w/ this room tuning stuff or give me some direction? I’ve been doing this for bout 3 yrs now & started out on a stand alone & switched to a computer rig hoping to get better results & it ain’t happenin’. BTW my room has a pan handle shape to it, it don’t look exactly like oklahoma but it’s close :O :laugh: I have N-4.0 16 bit, P-4 3G, 512 ram, 160 HD. HELLLLLLLLLLLLLP!!..please. before i end up in the nervous hospital. :laugh:

Can you post some stuff so we can have a listen?

Might be able to give some constructive comments then.

Hi psychobilly:
You’ve described your Aches-and-Pains very accurately… Every one on this Board can sympathize with you…

In our minds… we know exactly what we want to achieve, but getting that accross, in our mixes, is at times, beyond our imagination…

Sometimes, we become our own worst enemies… We expect more from ourselves and are overly sensitive to our tracks… when we hear them repro’ed…

Mark A has put some pretty nice sounding guitar tracks together, from some of the stuff I’ve heard from him… In my opinion… of course…

I’m thinking that if someone would open a topic on the Board here… Call it How to Make Guitar Tracks… or something… And get everyone to add their Two-Cents worth of ideas. Mabey, we could Raise-the-Bar a Foot-or-Two… on makeing Guitar Tracks… Well… depending on the style of music, that is…

We could post our individual guitar tracks before they get placed in the mix of the project… that is… and then… post the finished product… :O ???

In the sense of being Positive-and Supportive… that is…

We could then discuss just what makes a guitar Track… a Guitar Track… :O ???


I’m sorry to say i really don’t know how to post music here right now, let me do some pokin around & try to figure it out & maybe i’ll have somethin later today. Thanx guys for the replies!!


Grab the doctor phoo wavelength utility and give a whirl. It’s not too user friendly but it can give you an idea about the expected standing waves in a room and where they may be. Measure you room and compare them in the graph. It won’t make much sense, but if you post you room dimensions we can see what’s what a little.

Move the slider until the N full wave length matches one of the dimensions.

For example my room is about 15 feet long. Putting the slider so it’s close to that shows the full N frequency as being 73hz (whatever close enough). When I go stand in the very back of the room there is an obvious boost to the very deep lows. That’s a standing wave pretty close to 73hz. There will be similar lesser standing waves at the N2 harmonics though out the room. Walking forward toward the speakers shows that. My speakers are on the opposite end of the 15 feet length.

Keep tabs on this frequencies and lengths. Move the slider so the N full frequency length is close to one of the other dimensions, such as the width of the room and do the same thing…then the ceiling heights.

By comparing the frequencies, N
x harmonics and 1/2 and 1/4 wavelengths a pattern will usually expose the trouble spots for your room.

One you see those it’s a matter of dampening those frequencies. Damping can be dome by putting up padding of some kind as specific distances from the wall that match 1/4 of the wavelength of the target frequency.

In my room there is a strong standing wave around 220hz (maybe…it’s something like that). It’s there in all three dimensions in one of the top 3 harmonics. For me to kill that I need to hang adsorptive material about 1.2 feet from the wall - not 1.2 feet thick, but that far away from the walls-ceiling. Anything close is good. This is all very wideband stuff.

Yes, this is confusing and it’s not even close to being halfway perfect. It’s semi-ballpark stuff. :)

First of all, you never gave us your audio specs. How about your audio recording hardware? Your mics? Your guitars, keyboards, etc?

Take down your sleeping bags and foam from packing materials - all you’re doing there is making an ugly room that sounds bad. Sleeping bags are not known for their acoustical properties and, as far as I know, are not sold in music stores like Sam Ash, to trap sound.

Go to your local music supercenter and spend a small amount of money on Auralex sound foam. It comes in many sizes, shapes and colors and can be set up anyway you want. Then type “Home Recording” in google’s keyword box or, better yet, go to Auralex’s website (www.auralex.com) and they will give you tips on how to install the foam. I simply tacked it to my walls with picture nails (small head nails). I put it on 3 walls in nice diamond patterns and then my back wall has Auralex from top to bottom and side to side. Finally, my ceiling has some random strips as well. What did this do? It “deadend” my room - took away all reflections and unwanted echoes - end result - perfect recordings because no added noise to account for. A word on monitors. I have read that some people use headphones while others use monitors. I use both. I have Tannoy near-field monitors that are at unity (0 degrees out of phase, as they are called) so I can hear my mix. Again, the auralex sound foam solves all problems related to accurate mixes because a dead environment is key for that. I also have MOPADS, which are auralex foam pads specifically for monitors and that “shock-absorbs” them well. I do use headphones that I deem accurate after I mixdown to see if it sounds good. I also walk out to my car and see if it sound good in there. Finally, I walk over to my wife’s crappy CD boom box and listen - if it sounds good on a crappy boom box - it will sound good anywhere.

Of course, you also need to turn off all noise-making devices (be careful with your kid - they simply get louder) so as to not influence the recording.

Now, about hardware.

GIGO - read: Garbage In; Garbage Out.

If you start with crappy hardware you will have crappy sound. Eqing and effecting crappy sound makes even crappier sound exponentially so.

You MUST have decent recording gear to record a good song. Recording with a sound blaster live card is not meant for serious audio recording. Even the Extigy and Audigy cards are not well suited for multitrack recording. The Layla, Gina, M-Audio, etc mid-range line are very good for recording. I use MOTU hardware because it is extremely reliable - but can be expensive. I also recently plunked down $500 for EMU 1820m mastering grade interface for one of my PC’s. As I said, I also have a MOTU 2048mkII - all of which have apogee filters and neutrik connectors - that means good quality sound. One can record up to 48khz / 24 bit and the other can record up to 192khz and 32bit - the higher the number, the better the quality and the more resources it uses. Granted, CD quality is 44.1 16bit - but recording at higher bitrate and frequencies makes a BETTER HOTTER signal to begin with - when ramping down to 16bit 44.1 - you simply get a better sounding production.

Now you’re going to say to me - well, sure - you spent all that MONEY - of course it’s going to sound better!!!

www.americanmusicalsupply.com - will split anything you buy over $200 into three EZ payments with NO INTEREST - just pay same amount each month for three months - that means $600 sound recording hardware is only $200 per month - which is affordable for many.

Now, if you are a guitarist, vocalist or need to use mics - DO NOT USE a radio shack special. You need good sounding mics - I suggest AKG or Sennheiser. Even Shure Beta’s are good mics. Do your homework as certain mics are used for certain things. For example, A shure sm57 is not exactly well suited for vocals, as it is best used for brass, wind and percussion instruments.

Lastly, when recording - if using analog gear (instruments, vocals), don’t record too hot. If you have a pretty clean room and record at half-level - you should still have a nice clean recording after normalizing the audio.

I create music scores for games, TV, commercials and corporate events and, so far, no sonic complaints. I feel my advice is, ahem, quite sound.

I hope these tips helped someone.


Thanx for the link phoo!! i’ll check it out.

Hey karmacomposer, thanx for the reply, here’s a rundown on my stuff i use: For Recording: Dell pc w/ a p-4 3g, 512 ram, 160 HD, Audiofile 2496 card, Korg D1200, Roland 30w monitors w/ 5" Drivers, Focusrite trackmaster platinum pro preamp. Mics: i have a sure57, and a samson condenser. Instruments: Gibson SG, Warwick Rock Bass & i use reason adapted redrum for my drum tracks. My cables are just typical 1/4 inch cables, i haven’t spent any money for any cables.

Well, your hardware sounds more than adequate for recording - still lose the sleeping bags and packing materials on your walls - the auralex may solve ALL of your problems.

What is happening exactly that sounds bad? Is it after recording a track? Is it after adding VST FX? Is it upon mixdown? Or is it only after listening on someone else’s audio gear?


P.S. Up your RAM to 1GB - it’ll really help with a lot of things. Windows XP requires 256MB just to run. You may want to get a better mic for guitar recording. The Shure is pretty good, but not the best for electric guitar or vocals. Try Sennheiser for vocals and AKG for guitar.

Cables? Who needs cables? I guess I forgot to mention that I use the best cables money can buy because they are almost the MOST IMPORTANT THING - crappy cables (unbalanced or noice inducing) means crappy signal that gets recorded!!!

Hey Mike, well my main problem is after i mix down & put my stuff on a CD & listen to it in other systems (car stereo, headphones,ect) i always think it sounds pretty good in my monitors. It sounds pretty equivelent to anything else i’ve listened to in them except volume wise & that’s still pretty close. I loaded some stuff (commercial CD’s) in Music Match Jukebox & listen to just that, thinking i would train my ear better just listening to that on my monitors. The EQ inside the jukebox is set to -0 all the way across. On the back of my monitors are (LF Trim, HF Trim & Level) I don’t know what else to say except i had the same problems when i recorded on my Korg D1200 & i don’t know what else to do, but i have to get this nailed & i will 1 way or the other! I want to thank everybody for the replies & info!! Oh, as far as a sound that i’m after, my main stuff i listen to is…AC/DC, SKYNYRD, KISS, JACKYL, Charlie Daniels, Allman Bros. Marshall Tucker, Rossington Collins & some of the newer stuff like Nickelback, 3 Doors Down & I think Silvertide friggin rawks!!! Am i tryin to copy those guys? No. But put all that in a bag & shake it up & that’s what i’m lookin for. Clean & dirty, Kickin the dawg & i’m not into the guitar superhero thing at all. The only thing i’m lackin in is making a good recording. :O :laugh: !!

Hi Karma :D

Very thorough replies, we like that sort of thing around here.



When you say it sounds bad in the car, what exactly does it sound like? Does it have too much bass? I ask that because the little Roland monitors and your shelf system are likely to be kind of weak in the bass, but a car system might have a subwoofer, so suddenly your whole mix gets overwhelmed by bass frequencies you couldn’t hear on your monitors. When you mix on little speakers it is a little counter-intuitive because you have to make the bass sound really weak if you want it to sound right on bigger speakers.


Ted, your welcome and thank you. I tend to love helping people if I can. I am actually a long-time ntrack user from the version 2.2 days, but then went to Nuendo and Sonar. Recently I read massively favorable reviews of ntrack and wanted to try it again. I don’t use it for my main recording, but it brings back memories.

Stringer - That is EXACTLY what I was going to ask. I need to know what he considers “bad” - is it too bassy, trebly, are the mids off, is it muddy? Tinny? Please describe EXACTLY what you hate about your final mixes.

And, if you were having the same problem on another piece of hardware, you can rule out your computer recording device. It must be either your cables, monitoring system, sleeping bags or something else in the chain!!! Try monitoring with a kick ass pair of headphones or get some Alesis near field monitors if your budget is not very high. If you can afford it, buy some Tannoys or Genelecs.


Quote (Karmacomposer @ Sep. 10 2005,16:10)
If you start with crappy hardware you will have crappy sound. Eqing and effecting crappy sound makes even crappier sound exponentially so.

You MUST have decent recording gear to record a good song.

I won’t get into the symanteics of gear slutery… but I have a feeling gear is the least of the problems here. A SoundBlaster may not sound like an Apogee, but if you know what you are doing it still shouldn’t sound bad. I have a feelin gour friend is probably doin gthe typical newbie thing of over doing most everything and under doing everything else. GIGO is certainly true. So how do the base tracks sound? Don’t fix them in the mix. You can do quite a bit with cheap gear… so let’s worry about the basics first and then move on.

And maybe this is obvious, but you are putting 16/44.1 on the CD and not some other format, right? If you have ever heard a CD burnt using 48khz source material, you’ll understand what a mess it can sound like.

WOW! man, all these replies, i’m thankful everybody has came through like this. 1st of all i record in N-Track at 16/48 then mix down to 44.1 (dither?) anyway yes, some stuff came out way too bassy in my car system, but i just ran 1 of my main mixes off into musicmatch jukebox & BAM! it sounds pretty #### good! i was shocked! the only thing is some of my lead parts was just a little sharp as far as volume, maybe i had too much highs on them. But that’s the 1st time i had done that (ran a mix to a CD from Music Match) i had made this CD of this mix from N & was really just putting it in MMJ to save it & compare it w/ other music i had loaded in there. I had always ran it straight out of N or my korg. anyway like i said before the EQ in MMJ is set at -0 & it has volume leveling, so for some reason the CD i made from there was a HUGE difference for some reason. Anyway i hope this works in the future for me. Thanx again for all the tips, I WILL be using some of them soon.

hey, auralex is EXPENSIVE. Unless you’re doing pro recording stuff in a quality room and such, I think you’d be better off buying from one of these two.


Yes, Auralex is probably better. but the percentage of “better” versus the percentage of “cost”, is only something to consider when you’re doing this for money all the time.

Buy the less expensive stuff, use a bunch of bass trapping
(seriously-try the “atom” idea by auralex. put up a 12" cube in a corner, and run a lnrd in each corner from the cube), throw up some wedge foam for flutter echo and you’re good to go.

a couple bits of advice. It is often recommended to completely deaden only the wall directly in front of you. Then put diffusion on the wall behind you. Have someone hold a mirror and slide it along the walls, if you can see your monitors in the mirror, deaden that area. don’t forget the ceiling.

most rooms need bass trapping more than anything. if you kill all the high end with your sleeping bags, you’re simply increasing the perception the bass in your room even more. start killing the bass, then add high frequency stuff AFTER.

If you could further expound as to what the end result sounds like in your FRIEND’S audio player/car stereo - that would help. Don’t run through musicmatch, winamp, or mediaplayer - just through a regular old cd player with no dsp whatsoever. Then tell us what it sounds like.


Hey, thanx for the links man, i think i like the foam by mail stuff.

I bought my auralex at the now defunt Mars music center and it was only $20 per sheet - so how expensive is expensive to you guys?

I bought about 40 sheets.