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What are IEMs/Ms supposed to sound like.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by ThatBrianGuy, Jan 29, 2019.


  1. This is why studio monitors exist and referencing your mixes on different sources. I only use over ears or in ears mixing for quiet tracking and when I'm checking stereo imaging on a final mix. To be noted my signal is ran thru a splitter before I go to our in ear monitor rack and foh so I have two completely different mixes. Live if I can I try to dial my sound for the front of house seperate from my personal in ear mix. The sound isn't drastically different between the two mixes but it is enough to not sound ideal on either source if I don't mix them independently.
     
    ThatBrianGuy likes this.
  2. guts

    guts

    Aug 13, 2018
    Very cool. I like your scope.

    From what you described your needs as I don't think that getting your headphones working properly will be enough to fix your problem expediently.

    If you were just recording, or playing they'd be fine, but if you're going to do any mixing or mastering at all I definitely recommend a pair of monitors. It's very difficult to learn how to mix music so that the sound you want will translate properly to other people's systems without them.

    I'm not saying it's not possible to learn it on headphones, but it is a huge pain in the ass.

    The basic process for learning how to make a mix that translates well is to mix something on your monitors, then listen to it on every type of system you can get your hands on. Comparing the sound on every pair of headphones and every stereo in every car and living room you can hear your mix on will give you a better idea of what you need to do on your particular set of monitors in your particular room in order to produce a good mix.

    Once you have your monitors down pat, what you do is listen to a bunch of your own mixes on your headphones and compare them to your monitors until you get an idea of what a good mix is supposed to sound like on your headphones.

    That's the easy way.

    If you don't have monitors you're just going to have to mix on your headphones and compare that mix on every system you can find. The only thing is that, depending on the headphones, this can mean a lot of guessing. A whole lot of going back and forth from your headphones to other systems, mixing and remixing and remixing again and again until you finally internalize what it needs to sound like in order to work on as many systems as possible.

    This is especially difficult on IEMs as they present the sound in a way that is so different from a set of speakers. All headphones display sound in a binaural field, as opposed to a stereo field, but IEMs generally have a very limited ability to display the direction, distance and motion of sound in space. They tend to compress the binaural field so that it doesn't sound like it's moving around your head, but inside your head, and the amount of movement, distance or difference in direction have to be dramatic, almost drastic in order to be able to hear it.
     
  3. ThatBrianGuy

    ThatBrianGuy

    Nov 14, 2017
    Right on.. ok . Well, looks like I'll be looking at a set of desktop monitors then. They aren't that expensive, but I was just trying to avoid it.

    Brian
     
  4. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    If only someone had suggested this in the very first post after the OP... :p ;)

    If you’re buying monitors be sure and understand the fundamentals of placement, which includes some extremely limited trigonometry and proper height which may require stands. Lastly, if you want the monitors to present anything resembling accuracy you’ll need to invest in some acoustic treatments, most notably bass traps. These can be obtained or built for relatively low amounts of money, but be sure you’re buying the genuine article as there are a lot of snake oil salesman in the world of acoustic treatments.
     
  5. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Here
    No , not what I'm asking ;)

    Reference as comparing.
    A reference is something you base all comparaisons against.
    As in :
    A good pair of of speakers becomes your reference speakers.
    A good pair of phones becomes your reference phones.

    I can guess that now , your 7506 are your reference.
    (good phones , I've used these for many years)

    If it sounds good through your phones before recording and sounds cr*p when played back , then your problem may be your recording process more than the phones ?
     
    ThatBrianGuy likes this.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I didn't read every post. So maybe someone mentioned it. You need some Comply tips. Amazon has them. Without a good seal, those things are useless.
     
  7. ThatBrianGuy

    ThatBrianGuy

    Nov 14, 2017
    kjh***
    Yup got those. Good suggestion though.
     
  8. ThatBrianGuy

    ThatBrianGuy

    Nov 14, 2017
    Yeah, that's fair to say that the 7506's are my reference. I also don't think I was clear on the play back thing. Playing back on my recording and playing back on my IEM sound the same. Recording and playing back on my 7805's sound the same. Recording on my IEMs, and playing on another system (sound bar, crappy computer speakers, car, whatever my band leader uses, whatever my brother uses, 7506's) sounds like a completely different mix. Recording on my 7506's and playing back on (see list above) sounds like a totally different mix.

    For example: Let say I mix on my IEMs. In order to hear the bass at all, I have the bass track turned up a bit and the EQ set so I can hear the bass. It sounds great. When I play it back in my 7506, the bass EQ is WAY too high and it sounds like the bass track is more/less soloed. Opposite is the case for recording/mixing with my 7506's.

    I'm beginning to think this is the big challenge with recording...this is why pros are pros.
     
  9. ThatBrianGuy

    ThatBrianGuy

    Nov 14, 2017
    LOL! SOMEONE did. :) Yeah, I know I just don't have a good room, I can't be playing music loud in the house, and blah.. you get it I'm sure. If real desktop monitors (and some room mods) are the answer, then I really have two options. Deal with that I have, or get into some monitors.

    Brian
     
  10. guts

    guts

    Aug 13, 2018
    It doesn't necessarily have to be some major investment. You don't have to totally treat your whole room in order to produce a decent mix.

    The main thing is just to get the monitors and to set them up properly or as properly as is possible for your situation. Then you can work on whatever treatments you actually find you really need.

    For example if you make a bunch of mixes in your untreated room and compare them on a bunch of other systems and you keep finding problems in the low end that you just can't adjust for then you probably need to do some low end treatment. But you don't want to go doing a whole variety of treatments to your room before you even hear what your mixes sound like. If you do that theres a good chance you're going to be wasting your money on a bunch of stuff you don't really need.

    Room treatments are solutions to specific problems. You have to actually hear a real problem that you can't fix without them in order for them to be of any use.

    I spent years working with a set of monitors set up too close to a wall in an okay shaped room that was too small with absolutely no treatment. It only took me a few weeks of comparing my mixes and masters on other systems to internalize what my music needed to sound like on my monitors in my room in order to sound good on basically any system out there, but I have yet to find a system that the masters I produced in those years don't sound great on.

    The most important variable in the mixing and mastering process is the person doing the mixing and mastering. If you can learn how to use your ears and your brain to internalize the sound you need to shoot for in your mixes, then you're all set. All the other tools out there could make the process easier, but it will still come down to the same issue, how well you've internalized the sound you want.

    For example you need to internalize the fact that the bass needs to be more present on your 7506s in order to sound right on other systems. You need to learn exactly what the bass needs to sound like on those cans.

    And as for not being able to play loud music in the house. You never want to do your mixing at high volume. You always want to work at the lowest possible volume that allows you to hear all of the details of the music you're working on. If you work at a high volume you will very quickly fatigue your ears and after that everything you do will be suspect. You'll have to redo all of the work you did when your ears were tired.
     
  11. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I absolutely do get it. So much so in fact that I sold a house, bought a different one, tore down a garage and built a dedicated music studio for myself! My New Studio Build (perhaps overly detailed)

    For the record, I don't recommend this approach to anybody :p
     
    DirtDog likes this.
  12. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    This. Excellent advice.
     
  13. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Here
    It means that your IEM aren't reproducing low end as much as the 7506 or vice versa.

    But knowing the 7506 very well , my guess is the problem is in your IEM wich don't produce enough low end to be realistic.

    Why don't you stick with the Sony ?


    And BTW : you could face the exact same problem with monitors.
     
    ThatBrianGuy likes this.
  14. ThatBrianGuy

    ThatBrianGuy

    Nov 14, 2017
    I sensed that I would have the same problem with monitors. This is why I don't stick with the Sony headphones. One reason it stupid, the other is kinda technical.

    1.) I don't like the head band part messing up my hair. I don't have much up there these days, and when it's standing on end it's not great.

    2.) When I'm mixing a song in my DAW and I'm wearing my Sony's, the bass level and tone is much higher and more full of a sound. So, I tend to pull the volume down and tweak the tone a bit. Then when take that recording and play it on normal speakers, the bass eq is off and the level is way too low. When I'm mixing with my IEMs, the opposite is true. The bass level seems too low, and it's a really flat thin sound. So I crank the levels and boost the EQ to compensate. Then when I play the recording on normal speakers the bass is WAY too loud and boomy or muddy.

    This is where I'm confused. I think with some monitors on my desk, I'll get more bass response naturally (from the room, walls, desk, air, larger cones), but still have a flat eq overall. Which then the mixdown result won't swing so wildly between end users speakers/gear. That's my hope anyway.

    None of this really matters because I'm not a pro or anything. These are just reference tracks (as I call them) or something to share with my band mates/leader to be like, "Hey, I did this on this song while I was practicing at home, should I go down this path or is it too much/little etc?
     
  15. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    This is rarely the case. If anything you'll get reduced bass response compared to most headphones with monitors in the room. Low frequencies tend to have cancellation problems in rooms, especially untreated rooms, which is why many professional mixers in wonderful studios will still check the low end of a mix on a pair of headphones. A flat EQ overall is often the goal, but for most rooms is anything but what occurs.

    If you want to truly remedy this situation the cheapest and most effective solution that I can devise goes like this:
    1. Get some monitors. They don't have to be uber expensive ones, but get something that has a decent reputation.
    2. Figure out how to get them positioned correctly. Assuming your room is small you'll want to have the backs of the monitors as close to the front wall as possible without actually touching it. You'll then want the high frequency driver on each monitor elevated to be in line with your ear when in the mix position, which is presumably seated. Lastly, you want to spread them out and angle them such that they form an equilateral triangle with the angle point between the two monitors landing just behind the back of your head. This may necessitate putting the monitors on stands separate from the desk. Ideally the triangle would be centered in the room and would fire across the longest dimension of the room. The triangle and centering is less critical than the placement relative to the front wall and the height, but if you have the room it's worth getting it right.
    3. Purchase or build bass traps to put in the four vertical corners of the room. Purchase or build a pair of broadband absorbers to put at the first reflection points of the monitors using the "mirror trick" which you can find online. There are lots of guides online for building DIY traps and panels that will save you money compared to buying commercial products. You don't need a ton of treatments, but you do need the right treatments. What I've suggested may or may not be what's right for your room, but it tends to be a good starting point for most rooms.
    All told you could get this done for well less than $1,000. If you're crafty you could probably do it for ~$500.
     
    ThatBrianGuy likes this.
  16. ThatBrianGuy

    ThatBrianGuy

    Nov 14, 2017
    Dang... yeah. I'm not that in to it I guess. My home office is multi-purpose so it's pretty much what it's going to be. My desk has 3 monitors, my personal computer stuff, and my work computer stuff. Behind me is a workbench for mostly electronics projects and the occasional bass/guitar repair or build. So there's shelves, cabinets and parts drawers hanging on the wall.

    With all the advice in this forum I think I have a good handle on what I SHOULD do, and what I'll probably end up doing and just dealing with the imperfections - at least I'll know why and what I need to do to remedy them.
     
  17. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Such are the limitations of non-purpose-built spaces. The next best thing you could do is to get some decent (see criteria above) monitors, do what you can to get them placed properly in the room, ignore the treatments, and then use a pair of headphones that you know very well to check the low end. There are TONS of records made this way, and in the face of space limitations there aren't many other options. Monitors to hear how the mix sounds in a room, headphones to check the bottom end and stereo imaging, and then send a bounce to your smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. which can be a very revealing way to hear how your use of reverb and delay is sitting in the mix.

    After using this setup for a while and learning how it translates into the real world you'll likely reduce the amount of checks you need to do on headphones, iPhones, etc. That's all part of the process and should be expected.

    EDIT: Also, get to know spectrum analyzers very well. The visual representation of your audio signal is an invaluable tool to understand in less than ideal audio environments. It can reveal things that you might not be able to hear on your monitors/headphones, but could be problematic on other systems.
     
    ThatBrianGuy likes this.

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