A/B mixing in lieu of room treatment and experience. Discussion.

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by BillMurray, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. BillMurray

    BillMurray SS.org Regular

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    May 24, 2012
    So I'm not talking about normal A/B mixing here.

    I haven't been able to test this idea yet because I'm waiting for some bass strings to arrive.

    I have minimal equipment and not a great amount of experience.

    People often say you should A/B your mix with professionally recorded tracks to check they are in the ball park, but that this is not a replacement for room treatment and experience.

    My idea then is to take a track that is in the ball-park of the genre of music I am writing. Then take a small section of it, recreate the drums and record the guitars and then sit it next to the original track and mix it until the difference is so close that it is a matter of preference as to which one is best.

    Once you have achieved the above you will then have a template to record your song in and it should be pretty close to the professionally recorded track you were A/B-ing (in terms of the mix).


    I'm going to take the song Reptile by Periphery, record a small part of it and then mix it based on A/B-ing with the original track and utilizing the advice of Adam Nolly GetGood.
  2. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Jan 13, 2017
    Sounds like it should help you get cose to what you want. Probably not necessary to recreate anything but it will make it easier to compare when the music is the same parts happening. The point of a/b comparing is really just to take cues from the reference track for general purposes like it's levels, energy, the way the low end interacts, the sound stage, the way instruments are mixed etc. Mostly just so your track sounds more "normal". Good idea.
  3. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    May 3, 2014
    It’ll work to a certain degree. The dips in your room won’t playback certain frequencies regardless if it’s your track or a commercial release. It’s still a great idea to A/B against a song you like the production of. Be sure to level match.

    I think Izotope’s Tonal Balance Control would give you a nice visual idea of your track balance regardless of room treatment. I’m not sure if Ozone Elements has the Master Assistant, but that can be useful as well if you’re new to mixing. It’ll auto add an EQ curve which will essentially show you where you’re mix sucks, frequency wise. You can use that info to go back into the mix and correct the issues.
  4. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    Aug 29, 2019
    To play the devils' advocate, I'd suggest you actually do get a bit of room treatment. Doesn't have to be the highest end material, lord knows I couldn't afford that in my home studio. But when mixing, it is important to be able to hear what exactly you need to hear, i.e. neutral bass, mids and highs. Otherwise, you run the risk of tweaking something to perfection in your room, but once you play it back on some other listening system.

    In that regard, remember: Rome wasn't built in a day. There is absolutely no rush to buy everything all at once. A deflector here, a bass trap there. Keeping to your budget is important, no sense in rushing anything really. Tonnes of people putting out tracks every day of the week. Take your time.

    A good idea is to also understand how your monitors sound. Most professionals with experience have a pair of monitors that they rely on, and they understand which frequencies are hyped, and which are buried, and work with those parameters. No such thing as perfect monitors.

    I'd also recommend you check out Sonarworks products for room correction. Adds a touch of latency when mixing, but you don't need it on during tracking, because you only need to hear the accurate tones when mixing everything. You don't even need the full-fledged version: if you have a pair of supported headphones, get their headphone product and mix using that and cross-reference that with the sound over your monitors. I bought it and it improved my mixes, but after that, I bought some room treatment equipment and it is like a blanket was removed from my speakers.
  5. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Aug 17, 2004
    Somerville, MA
    This would undoubtably be good practice, especially if you play and/or sequence everything yourself, too.

    But it's not really a substitute for an accurate monitoring chain.

    The problem is this - the point of treating a room isn't to make it "better" for mixing, exactly, so much as it is to remove as many "blind spots" as possible from the room, areas (both literally, sections of the room, and frequency ranges in general) where phase cancellation is masking them, or extra flutter or echo or ambience sounds, or places where sound waves are hitting additively, not cancelling, and exaggerating certain frequency ranges. I'm trying to search for a good metaphor here, but it's sort of like trying to catch a baseball with an eye patch on, leaving you with no depth perception... except you don't know you're wearing an eyepatch. So, you can go and watch a video shot in the first person of a pro catching a baseball, and then try to replicate that experience yourself... but without depth perception, you don't actually have any clue how close to you the baseball is, and you're still just flying blind. You might luck out and catch it, but more likely than not you're taking a baseball in the teeth.

    So, if you replicate a professional mix as close as possible using your own tracks and try to use that as a mix template, you might get good results... but you might also have a big pocket in your room cancelling and/or severely weakening anything below 350hz or so, and your mix might be absolutely flooding this area, or the Periphery track might be fairly scooped around 350hz but have a lot more punch at the 50-60hz range that yours is lacking, and you'll have no clue because you can't actually hear what's going on in that area with any degree of accuracy.

    Your best bet, in an untreated room, is yes, to check your mixes for overall balance against a couple reference mixes while you're working... but then dump your mix onto something portable and play back on as many different systems as you possibly can, on the grounds that the odds of them all having the exact same blind spots are awfully low, and you can iteratively figure out what's wrong that you're not really able to hear on your own system. It's a pain in the ass, but you CAN get good results working like this.

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