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When do your ears get tired?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by jive1, Jul 27, 2004.


  1. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Just got done with an all-night mix down session (tight deadline). I had to take breaks because my ears were getting tired. I was losing my ability to discern subtle tones. If I didn't take a break, I knew I would wind up with a product I didn't like. I find that after about 2 hours, my ears need to take a break.

    How long does it take for the ears to get tired? Anyone have any tips to ease ear fatigue?
     
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    We've been putting in long mixing hours over the past several weeks. 10 and 12 hour days with a lunch and dinner break. If we're doing constant listening I think I'm pretty shot after 4 hours. It seems my ears are beginning to adapt the the long hours though. We never make any final decisions without completely fresh ears. Everything MUST be listened to the next day, on our own systems - not the studio monitors. I feel my ears are growing accustomed to the hours because the next day listen keeps getting more and more on the money. We were completely happy with our last mix in fact - no next day editing at all.
     
  3. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Good question Jive, I'd like to hear peoples opinions on this.

    +1 actually you've touched on a big difference between major-label-big-money recordings and the recording done on a budget. If you've got the time and th money, you can keep going back day after and make as many adjustments to the mix as needed. Sometimes you can do this for months and then someone says "nope, it's not working. Lets re-record the whole thing".
     
  4. Fact.....the phila in the ears will begin to lie down after 4 to 6 hours of critical listening. You need to get up and walk completely away from the board when doing any critical listening sessions. 6 hours and you are shot, nothing is as it appears and you are wasting time and money!

    One thing I can suggest to help with mixing is keep your monitors at or just below 80db in volume, this helps some.

    If you have access to more than one engineer let them trade off when mixing, this can also be helpful.

    Protect your hearing now while you are young, you will thank me when you are my age.......honest!

    Tracking is easier and often yu can go for 10 to 12 hours without an actual break. You get breaks when miking and listening to play backs.

    Turn the volume down and protect your hearing

    [​IMG]
     
  5. bassturtle

    bassturtle

    Apr 9, 2004
    This has always been interesting to me as well. It's amazing because it's something that I usually won't notice right away. Like Treena said, it doesn't seem to big that big of an issue while you are tracking, but mixing is a whole other story. I'm with Joe, I think it's best to have a day to walk away from a project, even when you think you're done.

    A fresh set of ears goes a long way.
     
  6. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    It helps your ears, that's for sure. But there is one exception to this rule. If the fiinal product is more often than not going to be listened to at high volume, it should be mixed at high volume. For instance, I don't know too many heavy metal fans that listen to music quietly.
     

  7. Petebass, I have mixed many metal sessions, and yes most band members prefer to listen to the music at 110db.

    I refuse to listen at that volume while mixing. I setup a mix, using automation. I then walk out of the room after switching the speakers over to the Tannoys and I let the clients listen to the mix without me being in the line of fire.

    I step back to the board and we make adjustments from there.This works for me but not all engineers are the same. I prefer to protect my hearing so I will be able to mix for many more years to come.

    My husband has hearing loss around 14 K from exposure to drummers crash symbols, after many years of abuse something will go wrong, that's guaranteed.

    I recorded a metal group you might be familiar with.

    [​IMG]

    There debute album called Disillusioned, myself, Chris Beard and my husband all three worked day and night on this album using the techniques I've decribed above!

    Check them out if you dig metal, they're happening!

    http://www.metalgospel.org/Interviews/punisherinterview02.html

    [​IMG]

    www.confusion-records.com

    My point is, turning down the volume will work but, it's up to the engineer how much they are willing to sacrifice for a band!


    [​IMG]
    Treena
     
  8. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I used metal as an example, but it's not limited that one style of music. I read that Jamiroquai's engineer insisted on swapping between studio monitors and a dirty big PA system. He reasoned that if discos and night clubs were going to play their stuff at 120+dB, he wanted to make sure the musical vibe was captured at both high and low levels. IMO he nailed it.

    I'm with you Treena. Protect your hearing at all costs. I'm not suggesting anyone mix a loud volumes, especially not for prolonged periods. I'm just saying it's something that should be considered before you settle on a final mix if the end user is likely to play it loud.
     
  9. I use earplugs if I'm in a loud environment, as I've found that my ears get fatigued much quicker at high sound levels. I try and mix at 85dB or less, and take lots of breaks. Also I don't mix the same day as I lay down tracks.

    FWIW -

    - Wil
     
  10. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Do you use earplugs when you mix?
    I would think that you would lose out on hearing some of the highs and high mids. I never have done this, and I tend not mix at high volumes. I might blast it for a final check to make sure there isn't anything that's gonna spike a speaker, but I like to keep things moderate
     
  11. 2 hrs max and my ears are toast. A 30 minute break seems to help.
     
  12. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Well I've never used ear plugs for mixing a recording, but I've used them for mixing live. If it's a loud enough gig, I start without them, then whack them in once I'm happy with the overall sound. The trick is to use ear plugs you're very, very, very familiar with. Mine were made specially for me by an audiologist and offer 15dB of cut, with very minimal change to the sound. They do however add a bit of 1k and 100Hz, so I take that into account. I also take them out before I make any drastic EQ or level changes, and also once and a while for a sanity check......... but live mixing is a very different animal,
     
  13. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Indeed it is. What you do with earplugs and live mixing is just about exactly what I do.

    I find that live mixing tires out the ears even faster.