Mix Like Monk

Have you ever watched one of those great detective shows like Monk or Columbo where the he asks seemingly random questions and then, without fail, he solves the mystery?

Mixing can be a lot like solving a mystery sometimes.

If you have mixed with me at any time you know that I’m a big fan of cross-referencing mixes. But I want to talk to you about cross-examining your monitors.

Sometimes when you are talking to someone about a story, the story gets skewed depending on who is telling you their version.

I think of my speakers and my headphones and my car as witnesses that each have a slightly different version of the story… and therein lies the truth of the mix.

Pictured: Barefoot MM27Gen2 and Not me.
Pictured: Barefoot MM27 Gen 2 and not Kevin Ward… or Monk or Columbo.

For example, I have a great set of Barefoot MM27 Gen 2 reference monitors. You’d think that with the price tag they came with, they would tell the complete truth all of the time. They don’t. They give a great story about where the low end is.

I have a set of NS-10Ms that I use for mixing too. The have been pretty much a staple in the industry, but they don’t tell the whole story… they tell me where the vocal and snare drum sit in the mix.

I have a set of Yamaha RHM-5a headphones. Now you would think that given the price ($50), that you really couldn’t believe what they say, but you can. Especially if you interview these witnesses and compare their story with the others.

I also have a Honda Element that is proving to be much more than a solid form of transportation.

If I over compress… even a little, my “most expensive monitors” will tell me that I need to go back and lighten up a bit on the limiters.

ColumboIf you are learning to mix, do yourself a huge favor and “go Columbo” on your mixes.

Figure out which questions your speakers can answer the most accurately.

Doing this consistently will tune your ear to what really sounds right in most places… and over time, you will become quicker at hearing the truth when you hear it.

So what am I missing? What speakers are you using and what is their story?

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