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Old February 20th, 2007, 04:30 PM   #1
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Monitor Placement

Just changed how my monitors were placed (proper mic stands as opposed to sitting on my desk next to my screen) based on an article by Douglas Spotted Eagle entitled Mixing Audio for Digital Video for the Sundance Media Group.
(http://www.sundancemediagroup.com/tu...s/mixaudio.htm)

I was really surprised how much of a difference it made. Thanks Douglas, looking forward to part 3 & 4.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 05:37 PM   #2
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Quote...."Having a set of computer speakers in an office or converted bedroom won't cut it under any circumstances, so let's get that concept out of the way to start with. Not even GOOD computer speakers will suffice for the pro-sumer." Endquote

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Although I have a dedicated room for video editing, I think it is possible (but difficult) to use another room rather than "under any circumstances" not use an office or bedroom. Even in my studio environment, I was fortunate enough to have a couple of clients take my mixes into several different audio environments and report back. The end result was to make my speakers be at what I call a "default setting", I had to invert the bass and treble settings two notches, the inverting probably was necessary because one of my speakers was near a slight sound trap (a corner). That's the irony of having a none square room, suddenly those extra walls create extra corners which can create sound traps. After I made the base and treble adjustment on the amplifer to compensate for the corner, the sound I recorded in my editing studio seemed to match nicely with other environments.

I'm suggesting that even if you do everything as describe in the article, the speakers and amps you use may not have a base and treble "default" position that lines up to the twelve o'clock positions.

I also am a firm believer in checking stereo mixes in the mono position. The separation and clarity one gets in stereo can be muted in mono if mix levels are off. Also if competing sounds are two close together, such as a "voice over inflection" and a "background music hit", the two sounds, if they happen at an identical moment in time, can cancel each other in mono yet be audible in stereo. If you can make your stereo mix sound good in mono, you have a winner.

Last edited by Alessandro Machi; February 21st, 2007 at 12:31 PM.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 11:00 PM   #3
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Last edited by Arthur Kay; February 21st, 2007 at 09:14 AM. Reason: never mind :)
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Old February 21st, 2007, 09:03 AM   #4
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Probably like a lot of people who edit video on & off, I had simply place my monitor speakers (their small shielded reference monitors, never mentioned computer speakers) on my table next to the video monitor, but following some previous discussions on reference monitors, Douglas had commented on the importance of placement (and not just the model/brand of reference monitors one is using). Having gotten around to investing some time in placing them properly (including mic stands and moving some book shelves), I was very surprised by the dramatic effect it had on the sound. Playing some of my favorite CDs, especially live recording, gave me a glimpse of some nuances in the music I had not heard before.

cheers
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Old February 21st, 2007, 12:27 PM   #5
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If one created the perfect recording and listening environment and had three sets of speakers to put into the room, it's quite possible that the center detent position of the bass and treble settings on the amplifier may have to be altered depending on each set of speakers. This aspect of sound may be the most difficult to master.

I was lucky to have two clients (very early into my setting up my studio) that were picky enough that they took work done in my studio and replayed it in several other environments. They called to tell me that my sound was "thin". Even though my speakers were mounted above and I had a non square room and accoustic foam on the ceiling, I still had to reset my bass and treble settings on the amplifier. I had to change bass and treble slightly rather than keep them at the standard default setting of 12:00pm. Since the sound was thin when played in other environments it meant I had to add treble and reduce base on the amplifier (the opposite of what one might think had to be done) to make the speakers sound "flat", meaning they did not favor either bass or treble, this would then cause me to mix in bass and treble more accurately when I actually did a mix.

Once I made that bass/treble adjustment on the amplifier, the mastered sound was in spec with other playback venues. For instance, a low budget feature video feature that was edited in my studio was screened at the Panavision screening room (it was a really nice screening room with amazing sound playback and a huge screen), and the sound sounded virtually identical to how it sounded in my studio, that was how I knew I had correctly reset the bass and treble settings on my amplifer. In my studio, I do not keep the bass and treble settings on the amplifier at 12:00 pm, they are now set to 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, and the result is the sound coming out of the speakers is no longer incorrectly colored.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:07 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessandro Machi
If one created the perfect recording and listening environment and had three sets of speakers to put into the room, it's quite possible that the center detent position of the bass and treble settings on the amplifier may have to be altered depending on each set of speakers. This aspect of sound may be the most difficult to master.

I was lucky to have two clients (very early into my setting up my studio) that were picky enough that they took work done in my studio and replayed it in several other environments. They called to tell me that my sound was "thin". Even though my speakers were mounted above and I had a non square room and accoustic foam on the ceiling, I still had to reset my bass and treble settings on the amplifier. I had to change bass and treble slightly rather than keep them at the standard default setting of 12:00pm. Since the sound was thin when played in other environments it meant I had to add treble and reduce base on the amplifier (the opposite of what one might think had to be done) to make the speakers sound "flat", meaning they did not favor either bass or treble, this would then cause me to mix in bass and treble more accurately when I actually did a mix.

Once I made that bass/treble adjustment on the amplifier, the mastered sound was in spec with other playback venues. For instance, a low budget feature video feature that was edited in my studio was screened at the Panavision screening room (it was a really nice screening room with amazing sound playback and a huge screen), and the sound sounded virtually identical to how it sounded in my studio, that was how I knew I had correctly reset the bass and treble settings on my amplifer. In my studio, I do not keep the bass and treble settings on the amplifier at 12:00 pm, they are now set to 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, and the result is the sound coming out of the speakers is no longer incorrectly colored.

Allesandro, I'm a little lost. Are you saying you use a home stereo amplifier for your power system for monitors?
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Old February 21st, 2007, 02:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
Allesandro, I'm a little lost. Are you saying you use a home stereo amplifier for your power system for monitors?
Yes. I also had to figure out what the default amplifier setting was as well. If the amplifier volume is set too high, as you say, it can mess up how the tone and bass sound. When the amplifier output is set correctly, then when the sound sounds loud, it's probably loud on the master as well, and if it sounds soft, it's probably soft on the master also.

Additionally, the volume output setting for stereo versus mono is different as well.

Last edited by Alessandro Machi; February 21st, 2007 at 11:44 PM.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 05:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessandro Machi
Yes. I also had to figure out what the default amplifier setting was as well. If the amplifier volume is set too high, as you say, it can mess up how the tone and bass sound. When the amplifier output is set correctly, then when the sound sounds loud, it's probably loud on the master as well, and if it sounds soft, it's probably soft on the master also.

Additionally, the volume output setting for stereo versus mono is different as well.
There actually is a calibration procedure to set the power levels on the amp driving the monitor so you have the right volume to properly adjust the tonal balance. All you need is an inexpensive sound pressure meter such as the one from Radio Shack. Set the amp's tone controls flat. Since a hi-fi amplifer's loudness control varies the bass response with different volume settings, defeat it - if it can't be defeated, get another amp. Set the sound cards or Windows mixer output level controls to full scale. Generate a -20dBFS sine wave from the toolkit in your NLE and adjust the output levels on the playback meters etc accordingly. Going one channel at a time, replace the sine wave with a -20dB RMS band-limited pink noise tone. Peak reading meters might not read -20dB any longer but don't worry about it. Without touching any of the level controls in your editor, adjust the amp's volume control (or the monitor's level adjust for powered monitors) until the sound level at your listening position is 79dB SPL (mixing for video release) or 81db SPL (mixing for theatrical or DVD release). Mark the spot on the amps volume dial where you got this level so you can set the amp to the same place every time. Now you'll be listening and mastering at a proper volume to judge tone balance, properly recorded dialog will be playing back at an average level of about 80dB SPL when it's reading 0VU on an analog meter (probably somewhere around -12dBFS on your NLE's peak-reading digital meters) and you'll have adequate headroom to allow for peaks without risking clipping in the downstream delivery processing chain once it's out of your hands.
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