How To Set Up Multiple Sets of Monitors For Mixing
One of the things I like to do when mixing is to reference my mixes on various sets of speakers. Sometimes I’ll mix on a small set for awhile, then mix on a big set for awhile, or mix on any set I have available, including computer speakers and home stereo speakers.
I also like to send my mix to the speakers in the live room, then go out there and mix with my iPad and V-Control.
Or, I’ll stay put in the control room, and listen to the mix playing on the speakers in the other room through the open door. This is a very powerful technique for making sure your mix “translates” to other speakers systems correctly.
Listening through an open door reduces the mix to a single perceived source, away from the sizzle of the tweeters and width of the stereo image. This gives you a chance to take the “far listener view” and make adjustments to any vocal level inconsistencies, intelligibility problems, and bottom end boominess the listener might experience listening from a distance or in a big room.
While there are many techniques and software tools available for you to check your mix in various ways, using real speakers of various sizes moving air is a great way to check the mix under real world conditions.
Each set of speakers tells it’s own version of the story, providing you with valuable information about mix translation, levels, tones, etc.
By making sure that the mix is working on large, medium, and small monitors, including phones and laptops, you are increasing the chances your mix will sound the way you like it no matter where it is played.
Some speaker systems come with ways to tune the speakers, and you can even switch between settings to audition various emulations of different types of speakers in much the same way that certain plugins can make one microphone sound like another.
But for most speakers, that option is just not available. Here’s a way that you can use your set of powered monitors with any number of passive monitors plus mini speakers to help make your mixes translate better.
To do this, you’ll need a power amp and a speaker select switch box, and your monitor section should have 2 stereo outs plus headphone outs.
Hook the powered monitors up to stereo output 1, and connect the power amp to stereo output 2. Connect the power amp to a speaker select switch box, then connect the passive (non-powered) speakers to that. Now you can switch between any set of monitors that is connected, and mix on those.
Finally, use the headphone output to drive a small set of computer speakers for another view on your mix. I like to mix on small computer speakers for periods of time because many times the first place listeners will hear the mix will be on an internet-based player. It has to sound big and clear on those.
Happy mixing! ~Sean Shannon
Mixing The Band (www.mixingtheband.com)