sub woofer while mixing?


hey guys just wondering if is it ok to mix with the subs on? do you guys do it? pros & cons please… :D


Subs can make you over/under do the bass. But, they can also show you where the bass is going wrong. THe key thing is to know your speaker and your room in this case and make sure the sub is setup correctly with the mains. If the cross over and balance is not right, you will tend to over or under compensate depending on the situation. Lots of guys use subs, just know what you are getting into and that there is more to it then just plugging in a going.

thanks bubba got the picture…


Bubba’s right.

Also, look at it this way, you can’t mix it with your ears what you can’t hear. But hearing it wrong could be just as bad. Don’t mix the deep bass on small speakers (can’t hear it until it’s WAY too boosted) or headphones (totally unrealistic representation of the way the deep stuff sounds in a room, where most folks will be listing to it), for a couple of examples. Phones do funny stuff to compensate and you miss the deep stuff hitting your body that resonates through your bones, but a subwoofer can REALLY help when setup properly when mixing on smallish speakers.

The idea is to not bring up the lows so you can hear them easily but to bring them up so the lows are extended deeper yet still relatively flat (small speaker might roll off at 80hz, but a sub can extend it to 60hz or even 40hz, depending on the sub). You want to avoid fake bumps in the playback EQ. When that’s there you might end up with less lows than you expect on other systems.

But, most subs are designed around a resonance - the fake EQ bump. Great subs are still flat. Cheaper ones might not be much better than turning up the bass knob on the stereo a little more. They can have a very narrow range, like from 55hz to 65hz for example. Those kinds will add apparent lows but they are not even close to being smooth.

All these hz were pulled out of my hat as examples.

All that said, you still need to use your ears. My ears aren’t even close to golden, but I can usually hear when a sub is too narrow. Play lots of different stuff on them and after a while you’ll notice that the lows of all the different stuff are in the same range (no good for mixing ones) or aren’t (good ones). Most computer subs aren’t good in this department, but that doesn’t mean your shouldn’t listen, or even mix on them. I find that there are thinks I can’t hear it home on the good speakers that are clear as a bell on the cheap speakers at work. These things are in all ranges of the EQ and may even have something to do with the fact that I have seven screaming computers at my feet at work (masking some stuff - I hear what’s not masked).

This kind of stuff is something I’m really interested in. I wish I knew more about. Some of the stuff I was saying might be based on misconceptions.

thanks to you to phoo…


Good points by both!

I find that many subs, especially the ones for general consumer use rather than audiophile stuff, are overhyped, resonant, and not tight. In other words, if you put a sharp “impulse” signal through them, they tend to ring at the low frequencies rather than give off one nice tight thump. Now, some of that may be due to the room.

I’m no purist, and I think a lot of audiophiles fuss way too much about silly things. But the typical low-cost subwoofer is best for the home theater and is probably more misleading than anything in the studio.

However, you want to do comparison monitoring of your mix, and it should sound good in all these popular home systems with tiny speakers and a subwoofer. Even though you don’t want to mix that way.

I made the mistake of sending a guy a mix of a tune I’d made using only headphones that only go down to about 40 or 60 Hz. As it turned out, the mix happened to have some serious energy in the <50 category (from sampled upright string bass), and he played it nice and loud in his studio. Just about sent the speaker cones through the grilles! A case in point about “You can’t mix what you can’t hear”. I shoulda known better, of course.