Last Updated on June 11, 2016 by Andrew Culture
Turn your studio monitors into a range of alternative playback devices at the click of a button.
Here’s a thing – if you read just about any book or article on mixing (or cast your mind back to the last you did) it probably suggested that you listen to your mix on as many different types of playback device you can find from hi fis to smart phones, and car radios to laptops.
And it’s good advice because although you may spend hours – or days – creating the perfect flat mix, no one is going to listen to it on your set-up – except, perhaps, your Mum.
The (rather sad) fact is, that for all the hours professional engineers put into perfecting a mix, most music is listened to on ear buds and other very lo fi devices.
And the problem, as you undoubtedly know, is that the music will sound different depending on what you listen to it on.
So, to save you transferring your mix to numerous devices, copying it to USB sticks and burning it to CDs, Audified has developed a neat solution.
Acting on impulse
MixChecker models a range of playback devices which you can select at the push of a virtual button to simulate different listening experiences.
It does it by measuring the frequency responses and behaviour of the devices and imposing this on the output signal.
Getting a bit more technical, it’s based on impulse responses, a method which became prominent many years ago to impose the ‘ambience’ of a room on a signal to create naturalistic reverbs.
Play it back, Sam
There are 12 ‘playback’ systems: classic studio monitor, classic cube monitor, on-ear headphones, smart phone, tablet, laptop, car audio, TV, micro hi fi, radio, desktop speakers, and in-ear headphones.
So MixChecker gives you an idea of what your mix will sound like when played on these device.
But the question is – does it work and how well?
Ok, that’s two questions.
The answers are – yes and quite well. But of course, with caveats.
Does my mix sound big on this?
If you play your mix on your hi fi, laptop or phone, it’s unlikely to sound exactly the same as the MixChecker output. That should be obvious.
The models Audified used to create the simulations will probably not be the same as your devices so the sounds will be different.
For example – and your mileage may well, indeed, vary – on my system each device seemed to lose some part of the signal. Many were light in the bass, even the studio monitors, but some also lost the mids and/or highs while some, of course, highlighted those areas.
It’s a complex subject.
Also, you may be thinking that as there are variations between different types of studio monitor, what you hear on your system will not be the same as Joe Blogs’ – or Kayne West’s – system.
And you’d be right. MixChecker produces different outputs depending on what you’re playing it through.
It compensates for this a little with a, er, Compensation section which includes 5″ monitors, 8″ monitors, and headphone options. Select the one closest to what you’re listening on.
Oddly, no 6″ option which seems one of the most popular monitor sizes. But there is an Off button which you use if you’re listening on ‘high quality’ speakers, although the manual doesn’t specify what ‘high quality’ might be exactly.
Theme and variations
One of the problems at the moment is that the system adjusts for volume with RMS which isn’t necessarily (or likely) to produce the same perceived volume.
Which means that there is some perceived loudness variation when you switch from one device to another which makes it a little more difficult to home in on the tonal differences.
In fact, every option seemed quieter than the straight output. Audified is considering adding a volume control which would help make comparisons easier.
So these are all things to bear in mind but to get caught up in the minutiae and nuances of the thing is, I think, to miss the point.
If you don’t have a range of alternative playback devices in your studio for quick A/B comparisons, what do you do? Copy to other devices, burn CDs?
MixChecker saves you the hassle. It gives you a ready-made one-click way to ‘try’ a range of playback devices to hear how your mix might sound.
It’s certainly a time saver and, at times, an eye-opener.
You’d still be advised to run a reference check on other devices and not take its sounds as gospel, but as a quick and easy way to see how your mix might sound on other devices, it’s definitely worth a look.
And it will save time and effort transferring audio mixes.
However, you might think MixChecker is a little pricey.
Unless you’re making money with your music it’s more a considered purchase than a no-brainer but you can demo it free of charge for 30 days to see if it’s a good fit for you and your music. After that, you might just not want to mix without it.