In a recent Google Hangout I got together a bunch of experienced and talented audio engineers to help bridge the gap between what you are hearing as an engineer and how the room is causing that problem. We tried to cut through some of the confusion between “mix sound” and “room sound”. The following video and transcript comes from one particular section where we addressed the issue “The Problem with Mixing In Small Rooms”. If you would like to see the full hour and a half discussion you can see the video further down the page.
Joseph Baffy (JB): I’ve been in a space right now that had to be rented and it’s taken me a couple of days to get used to it. When I brought a mix home last night I had to record there in their live room and I mixed in their control room and I have a basically average of living room at 14′ by 29′ / 30′ something like that, couple of couches, you know just normal stuff but there’s mostly hardwood floor and a little piece of carpet.
Now when I put that into the player in my living room, the low-end was smeared and the high-end was ultra-bright and I’ve rarely ever experienced that, anything near that whatsoever in my mixing in my normal space, my own space. Why do you think that happened?
Dennis Foley (DF): What was the ceiling height?
JB: Twelve feet
DF: Oh okay, so you had good ceiling height, you had bad width. Fourteen foot is the minimum width that I would spec into any room size and everything else needs to go higher. So I always use 14 foot as kind of a breakpoint in when I tell people when they ask me “What are some of the dimensions I should consider?” nothing less than 14′ and really nothing less than 11′ or 12′ on ceiling height and there’s all kinds of acoustical reasons for that but it’s just you’re probably hearing that 14-foot width would be my guess if the low-end is smeared.
JB: Okay that, my mixing back room was that size the room that I actually mixed it wasn’t that big it was smaller. It had a bunch of what I consider cheap foam without mentioning you know the biggest brand name in foam and the dimensions of that room the actual, the actual specs of the room that I listened in to that I hit the mixed song in the ceiling was 9 feet tall, the room was 9 feet wide and it was 12 and a half feet long.
DF: Well there you go, there you go, there’s your problem right there, you know your microphone didn’t have a problem hearing your room it picked up everything that was going on because of those bad dimensions.