Today I want to share with you what 3 years and £18,000 of university debt cost me.
The one golden nugget that I actually apply to my music.
For years I’ve felt that my music production degree was a waste of time!
For the most part I still kind of do,
If I could take anything away from the experience It would be one mixing tip that I learned on the 2nd day of my first year.
Think of this as a basic guide on why your mixes sound like sh*t and what you can do to make that change.
Firstly, I want you to realize something, Whats coming out of your monitors is fluff.
But as soon as you know why it’s fluff, you can fix it!
Let me drop 2 truth’s bombs on you!
Get ready for an Aha moment.
Explosion #1 – Your room is lying to you!
It’s not your fault!
There’s so much sound flying around your control room you’re confusing the hell out of your ears. As soon as sound leaves your speakers It’s hitting everything! all of those jumbled up frequencies then come right back at you.
Acoustically treating your room can help! sure, but the fact is! if you’re running a home studio it’s probably out of your bedroom or garage!
Houses are designed to be houses! not recording studios.
The walls are virtually hollow, Think about it!
And the one thing I University taught me that’s put me in debt for a long time is:
Turn down your monitors.
Yep, That’s it! turn down your monitors from the back of the unit or from your interface.
Confusing right, the reason this works is simple, If less sound is coming out of your monitors, then less sound is bouncing around your room. (confusing the crap out of your ears)
Holy hell, Can you hear the difference?
That’s what your mix actually sounds like.
Explosion #2 – What your ears hear changes.
If you have your mix full volume (even a tiny bit), your ears think there is more bass and top end in the mix than there actually is.
Consequently, you make dumb arse EQ decisions (i.e. you won’t turn up the bass enough, and you won’t bring enough sizzle to anything in the mix)
Once you’re done twisting knobs and sh*t acting like the next George Martin.
Start speaker testing, take your mix out to your car or play it on any other speaker set you own, you’ll notice something weird: your mix sounds… Sh*t!
And… it lacks bottom end.
Feel like a douche?
Can you see how important it is to simply turn down your monitors when you mix?
It affects both your ears AND your room.
So you’re probably dying to ask: “How quiet should my monitors be when I mix?”
The simple rule my University tutor taught me was, low enough to have a conversation with the person sitting next to you.
All I’ll say on that matter is, try it out for yourself, as long as you don’t have to raise your voice, your all good!
Take the advice I’ve given you and apply it to one project you’re working on, try it out and tell me how much better your mixing sound in the comments.
If I could conclude the babble I’ve just written in any way it would be this if you want to study music production at university do it!
If my experience has taught you anything, do it for the experience.
All though I haven’t really touched on this side of it, While at University the best thing about it was being around other like minded people, That alone taught me EVERYTHING!
The people you meet at University will be the Mixing engineers that come when you light up the bat symbol up in the sky (that was a sh*t joke).
In other words, this is where you begin to lay your foundations and decide what path you’ll take for the rest of your life. Both Musically and in life.
Maybe I just went to a bad university but In my opinion, everything I know that’s made a difference to my production skill set, I went out and learned myself through networking and forcing myself into situations university promises but 9 times out of 10 doesn’t deliver.
Maybe that’s the lesson University teaches you and we just don’t know it.
If that’s the case I’m not peed off at the lack of learning but £18,000 to make a few friends.
Are you taking the piss?