Listen up all you budding mixers, if you’re mixing in a home studio, you’re already at a disadvantage: your room is fighting against you. Most of our home studios are just that, studios inside a spare bedroom or basement in our house. The room was never built out to give us a controlled listening environment so we can make critical sonic decisions.
Have no fear, there’s a lot you can do to compensate, and one of the easiest and most impactful is to create a mixing sweet spot.
Via Emilio Küffer Flickr
Time To Move Your Speakers
One of the biggest things holding back your mixes is simply where you put your desk in your room. There are a lot of “wrong” places to put your desk and likely only one or two ideal spots. So if you really want to churn out better mixes, you need to be OK with doing a bit of rearranging in your room.
It’s pretty simple really. If your room is somewhat rectangular, place your desk along one of the shorter walls and center it between the walls on either side of you. Having your desk, and therefore your monitor speakers, perfectly centered is critical for giving you even reflections and a more accurate stereo image.
If you’re tucked into a corner somewhere or randomly along a wall, the sound from your speakers will become smeared with uneven reflections bouncing all over the place making it harder for you to really hear your mix properly.
Back Away From The Wall
Now that your desk is centered along side the shortest wall in your room, pull it back from the wall by at least a foot. It kills me to see pictures of peoples’ studios where their desk and speakers are right up against the wall. Why? Because you’re creating more bass buildup which causes you to mix improperly.
While mixing you think you’re hearing plenty of bass but in reality you’re hearing the bass buildup from being too close to the wall. Consequently you don’t mix enough low end in your mix, which is why you take your mix to your car or your headphones and you say, “Where did the bass go?” It was never in your mix, only in your room.
Time For The Triangle
My favorite math class in school was geometry, because it was way more visual than say calculus. It was also way easier! So to put the finishing touches on your mixing sweet spot we need to break out some simple geometry. We need to create an equilateral triangle between your head and your two monitors.
It couldn’t be easier. An equilateral triangle is a one in which all sides are the same length. So basically we want your head to be the same distance from each of your speakers as your speakers are from each other. The best way to measure this is with a tape measure and to go from your head to the center cone of your speakers.
So for example, if your speakers on your desk are three feet apart (cone to cone), make sure your head is three feet away from the speakers. That might mean you need to slide your chair closer or further away. If that distance is too close, then you can keep your sitting position the same and instead widen the distance between your speakers. Just make sure they stay centered on the desk.
Finally, turn in your speakers so they are facing your directly, not flush with your computer screen. You should be able to turn slightly to the right, face your right speaker and be looking directly at the face of it. And likewise on the left. And one more thing, adjust the speaker height so the top tweeter is level with your ears. That’s it! You’ve now just created a perfectly equilateral triangle with your speakers.
To get the absolute most out of your studio monitors:
- Move them and your desk to the shortest wall in your room.
- Center them along that wall. Pull them away from the wall by at least 12 inches (or about half a meter).
- Then make sure the distance between your speakers on the desk is the same distance from each speaker to your head.
- Turn the speakers in slightly to face you and adjust their level so the top tweeter is at about your ear height when sitting.
Voila! You’ve now created your very own mixing sweet spot. By doing nothing more than changing the placement of your speakers in the room you have created a more balanced and focused listening position so you can best hear what’s coming out of your DAW.