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Clients not familiar with monitors when evaluating the mix
Old 11th March 2014
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Clients not familiar with monitors when evaluating the mix

I'm sure i'm not the only one with this problem:
clients come to the control room, they're not familiar
with the monitors, they ask you to modify something
that you KNOW it's gonna translate badly
outside of the studio..
So best case scenario, you have to redo the mixdown
without the mod they asked, but sometimes
they enter a neverending cycle of mods
because they get paranoid and/or they're just not
objective anymore.

How do you deal with this?
Do you keep a set of monitors/consumer system
for them to listen to?
Old 11th March 2014
  #2
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Blaine Misner's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
i keep a dropbox folder with all the current versions of the songs. i share said folder with each member of the group, so as i update things it affects them too. Of course, i prefer to get started/do the nuts and bolts in private and bring the group in for the final tweaks. but this affords me the ability of having the artists reference the mixes in their preferred listening environments. I feel that this helps their input be a little more relevant as they will have (hopefully) played it in a variety of places... car, hifi, ipod etc.
Old 11th March 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Yeah I too send versions and such, but sometimes
some artist don't pay attention till they're in the room with me
or they "approve" the ones I send and then they come
for the final mixdown in the room and they want to change
something last moment *because* they're listening
my monitors and they just don't understand that
that's a completely different environment and system
than they're ipod or laptop speakers..

I'd make more sense to me if they asked for mods
based on when they listen to that instead of the studio
monitors.
For example, I have adams, two pairs and we all
know you have to get used to the ribbon tweeter
and they're not
Old 11th March 2014
  #4
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
That's a tough one... I try to brief the client, I let them know ahead of time what to expect, that studio monitors are less flattering and more neutral in the studio. That things will sound less processed coming off the monitors, but that consumer grade speakers will generally have more of a smiley face eq sort of built in to help make things sound better. I generally also warn them about my low end and where not to sit in the room if they expect to hear the same thing they would in their car. I switch back and forth from a pair of tiny 3" woofer Alesis speakers often as well so they get more of a perspective of the bass on small speaker, or lack thereof. I also play finished mixes on both sets of monitors in my room, which many times will be ones they sent me in the first place that they like. If I've used their references and matched as much as possible along the way and sort of interject the notion that 'hey, that's a million dollar room, you're not paying anywhere near that price to get as close as we are to that finished record'...they usually chill out then

Essentially there are a ton of little tricks that psychologically prepare them and make your life a lot easier...Good luck!!
Old 11th March 2014
  #5
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
1. never mix with the band guys in the room
2. don´t do things that you can´t stand behind cause someone else wants you to, things will fall back on you.. i don´t mean small changes in the mix, i mean if you have to do a mix you can´t stand behind.... if you get in this situation tell em to let it be done somewhere else...they won´t imo and you´ll gain credibility...if your mix is good... people will come to you later for your opinion
3. smiley curve speakers may help to get some people satisfied, 1031 aren´t bad for this
4. If you got a bar in the studio go there with the label guy first... or do some little fake failures like vocals too low...people often just want to have the last word, they want to be important
5. go your own way

i know this isn´t the easiest way, but in the end it will work
peace
Old 11th March 2014
  #6
Deleted 1846071
Guest
I would get PA speakers or hi-fi speakers or something flattering. Or even play the mix in another room.

I have been in a control room where the band was listening to playback just after tracking, on NS-10s, and the engineer kept saying, well, it isn't mixed yet, it'll sound great, just wait... The band were quiet, the producer was apologizing on behalf of the engineer, and it was awkward!

Better to get things slamming from the get-go and keep the customer satisfied.
Old 12th March 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I have three sets of monitors and right up front I play back one of their favorite songs and ask them which set of monitors they prefer. I can mix on any of the three so if we work with their preferred monitors they're less likely to misinterpret what they're hearing.
Old 12th March 2014
  #8
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jorby's Avatar
Get some commercial headphones, like the Sennheiser HD 280s. They aren't terribly expensive and will help people get what the are missing from reference speakers. That, or get a second set of monitors that are more suited to untrained ears. I commonly have people feel there isn't enough low-end when listening back on my Yamahas; however, if you play the music through headphones or on something like Alesis M1 MKIIs which have a broader sound, people can get a clearer picture of their music in a commercial sense.

Or you send them tracks like everyone has said, then they can listen to what they are used to.
Old 12th March 2014
  #9
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madgansound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Dutchman summed it up well. Never mix with the band in the room - they either trust you or they don't. It amazing how everyone becomes an expert when sitting at the console... Spend a couple decades there practicing critical listening then you can have a voice regarding the process. I do not get paid to teach and I have run out of patience explaining to people why do eliminating all the mids from distorted guitars (listening while solo'd of course lol) and cranking the lows on kicks isn't the fail-safe recepie for the heaviest metal album ever produced.
Old 12th March 2014
  #10
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
IMHO, you are making a mistake if you don't mix with at least one or two band members in the room (no non interested parties or hangers-on). If there isn't a designated producer, then the band is the producer. It's just asking for a lot more alterations to the mix, which will either have to be charged to the band, or given to them gratis, neither of which is a good thing.

I've been exactly through what you are talking about a lot, basically on every mix. The solution that I found was, before the mix starts, to professionally and politely explain to people present that all speakers, even extremely hi end and expensive ones, and the rooms they are in will all give slightly different results. That you've heard many mixes in this room and are familiar with the translation. And before giving lots of suggestions on the small details, to please trust you to get the basic meat and potatoes of the mix going. Also, that you have one or two other consumer systems (your car, your consumer stereo there, their car) that everyone can listen on for a different perspective.

Another somewhat related suggestion, I've found that many times after two or three songs are mixed, the overall mix for the rest of the songs become better. So I recommend to the bands to decide on the order of the songs on the album as much as possible ahead of time, and to mix them in backwards order. Depending on budget, spend a little less time on the first half (which are at the end of the album) and more on the ones mixed last (which will be towards the beginning of the album, and their most important group of songs).
Old 12th March 2014
  #11
Gear Addict
 
telejustin's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
If it's the first time a client has come to my place I spend 10 minutes with them listening to music that's familiar to him/her. Just pull up Spotify and let them jam out to a bunch of stuff they know. Explain that you want them to calibrate their ears. Sometimes I'll also play the rough mix. More experienced artists and producers may not need as much to calibrate. Just today I had a producer in who has been doing it for 30 years. He loves the way my room sounds and trusts it, so he just went straight to jamming on my mix. But that's not the norm and I usually encourage--no, require--people calibrate their ears.

I love having clients come in to listen to mixes. It's easier to gauge their reactions and make changes. That said, so many of my local clients want to listen at home on their own systems, on their own time, that I've stopped pushing people to come in. It's just the reality of the world now. So now everyone is a remote client.
Old 12th March 2014
  #12
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gear is cool's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Or have a control room that translates, poof goes your problem
Old 12th March 2014 | Show parent
  #13
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gear is cool ➡️
Or have a control room that translates, poof goes your problem
...not only easier said than done, but that may not be the problem...the client may listen, get used to, and like the sound of record in his bedroom, which, of course, are going to be way off. You battle against muscle memory of the mind. They've heard things on PA's or their dad's living room system probably more times than they've been in a proper studio many times.
Old 12th March 2014
  #14
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gear is cool's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Or the engineer needs to listen to the client, lots of variable . Thanks for pointing another out. Peace!
Old 12th March 2014 | Show parent
  #15
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gear is cool ➡️
Or the engineer needs to listen to the client, lots of variable . Thanks for pointing another out. Peace!
Can't really tell if you're addressing me, but my guess is you are. In any case, I'm a little confused as to how listening to the client is what you get out of that. If a kid is used to hearing his dad's bose tower speakers in a drywall'd room with no acoustic treatment, and he is now the guitartist in a band I'm working with, I'd be less inclined to listen to his aesthetic as it's more likely be skewed. If after listening to his favorite songs on my system and I'm comfortable with his calibration toward my room, then he and I can come to an understanding. With all that said, since I've gone primeaocustic with Sonodynes in my room with additional bass trapping, I'm finding these issues to be at a minimum
Old 12th March 2014 | Show parent
  #16
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik ➡️
...not only easier said than done, but that may not be the problem...the client may listen, get used to, and like the sound of record in his bedroom, which, of course, are going to be way off. You battle against muscle memory of the mind. They've heard things on PA's or their dad's living room system probably more times than they've been in a proper studio many times.
+1. Translation is relative in some ways. Sometimes it's just them noticing a detail on their system or the consumer system that they didn't notice on the high end system. This could be more of a mind than ears issue. Maybe they don't have an expensive home system with a properly treated room to listen in, or their car is not up to snuff (what car environment is?), but they compare it to their favorite commercial recordings so they know how loud they like the vocals, how bright the guitars should be, etc etc.

Playing a few select songs that they are familiar with on your system is a great idea on how to 'calibrate' their ears though. If you could easily flip from their ongoing mix, to an mp3 out of the mini headphone jack of an ipod/ipad or Kindle tablet, to a commercial 16/44.1 CD through a high end DAC outputting +4dbu (all while matching levels), then to multiple sets of speakers (some high end, some mid level consumer, and a small boombox with RCA or 1/8" inputs) it would be a perfect world if mixed all in the same room.
Old 12th March 2014
  #17
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BillSimpkins's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Maybe they don't trust you. Earn their trust.
Old 12th March 2014
  #18
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nickelironsteel's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Few things i wanna say: never do this and always do that almost never works for every situation.

My tools to keep the time low with things like different monitoring: a tascam cd player (spotify, seriously??) they can pop their reference cds in and i switch back and forth with that and their mix. I always have a sony zs-m1 in the control room and via airplay another one in the lounge for the band to listen to under real life conditions. Theres also a small PA if they prefer that. The mm27 and the ns-10 are my babies and their ears are not tuned into those and i make that clear from the getgo. If i wanna make tweaks, i sometimes burn a cd and send them up to the parking lot where they can check in each of their cars..
Old 13th March 2014 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
telejustin's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickelironsteel ➡️
(spotify, seriously??)
Just thought I'd point out that Spotify streams 320kbps OGG Vorbis for premium subscribers. (160kbps with a free account). Not commenting on sound quality...just pointing out that the convenience of nearly all of recorded music is available at a much higher data rate than people realize. Whether that's good enough for clients to reference is of course a personal decision...
Old 13th March 2014
  #20
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I was demoing softsynths today and they had bx5a, sounded great......

Last edited by Vintageidiot; 17th March 2014 at 05:31 AM.. Reason: correction.....
Old 13th March 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Haven't you heard the adage:

Q : how many opinions are there?

A : as many as there are musicians in the room.

Unless one or more is also 'producer' or 'recording engineer' and then it increases exponentially...

lol
Old 13th March 2014
  #22
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ARIEL's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I dont really have that issue , just once or twice a long time ago - Once I finish tracking - they all go home . I mix away - upload the mixes for them to DL and listen to on teir systems - wait for any stuff on changes - like bring up backing vox in chorus - Or gtr solo up a hair . Backing synths up in chorus or down for a more subdued vibe - It usually just minor level tweaks nothing to do with eq or anything else . Keeps it fast and simple .

I also have a HI FI system playback which is what I will play back to them with a sub - And it sounds great ! So they get a real world pic of the mix . I dont ever mix with the band in the studio , none of them want to be here either . If they insist , it still never happens until I am done Also any crazy changes that a bass player once asked - more bass in the mix - I said it will be way too much . Burned the cd test mix , he played it in the car , came back in then agreed .

It can be a touch battle for sure . Myabe just do that - upload final mixes for them to DL , make list of any changes and go from there .
Old 13th March 2014
  #23
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beingmf's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I realized that listening to a mix on Auratones* first and THEN switching to the mains is sooooo good :D

* pretend to "check some levels", so they get accustomed to that boxy sound and won't ask why you're doing this
Old 17th March 2014
  #24
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I have to make a correction: Relistened to softsynths today and the Protools rig was not previously playing through the bx5 monitors. bx5a's actually sound very good.....
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