As producers, as opposed to consumers of audio, we need an awareness of the havoc wreaked on the carefully designed performance of a quality studio monitor once you take it out from an anechoic chamber and put it in an actual room, with walls and gear and people. But listening is an active process and the fact that we can sit at the back of a concert hall and mentally unpick all of those reflections and perceive the dry sound of that instrument on stage is testament to the fact that while a microphone measures, an ear listens.
Can’t We Just Avoid The Effect of Rooms?
Does it matter?
We hear many people say things along the lines of “I know my room and I know my monitors”. Can we just cut the room out of the equation by using headphones exclusively? What about using speaker calibration to correct for the effect of the room? Can you bypass all of this agonising over the neutrality of your monitoring by just mixing your track and then making use of a mastering engineer? After all, great monitoring is expensive. Why buy when you can hire someone instead?
A monitoring system is the combination of the monitors and the room they are in. Great monitors aren’t cheap but a great listening room can cost much more than your monitors and the process of measuring and acoustically treating a room is much more complicated than just buying some nice speakers. It’s no surprise that acoustics came out as the most common frustration we have about monitoring.
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