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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How To Calibrate Your Hearing

hearing image
One of the mistakes that many audio mixers make is not calibrating their hearing before beginning a mix. It's not that you can't get a great mix without it, it's just that doing so makes things easier, since it takes you less time to focus on the details of a mix. Here's an excerpt from the latest 3rd edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook that describes how to calibrate your hearing before the mix begins.

"Our ears are amazing organs that are capable of hearing sounds so faint that they move the eardrum less than the diameter of a hydrogen molecule. It’s important that we first calibrate them in order to take advantage of their enormous capabilities. Here’s how:
  • Try to stay in the most quiet area that you can for as long as you can before you begin your mix. Concentrate on the sounds that you’re hearing and try to identify what they are and the direction they’re coming from. Studies have found that this can make your hearing much more acute.
  • Stay away from a large meal before you mix since it can temporarily make your hearing less sharp. 
  • In order to improve your ability to hear faint sounds, relax your jaw or just smile. There are tiny muscles in your jaw that can actually disrupt the action of your ear drums and eustachian tube, which control the inner ear pressure.
  • If you will be doing work that requires your attention on a computer monitor screen, even small noises can subtly blur your vision. Turn the level down and try to keep the uninvited noises at bay.
TIP: Also remember that closing your eyes while mixing can sometimes improve your hearing by both lessening the distractions and allowing your brain to concentrate additional processing power on that sense."

To read additional excerpts from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook 3rd edition and other books, go to the excerpts section of


Mike Weitz, Boston said...

Plenty of attention/material on how best for musicians to mentally - and physically - prepare for performance, but this is the first time I've read anything on mixing preparation. Thanks to Bobby O, once again.

One more, if your session occurs at night: schedule a nap pre or post dinnertime. Fatigue is your enemy and no amount of enthusiasm or sheer will can compensate.

BigBreakMusic said...

Good points! I would also add no alcohol as it greatly impairs hearing not to mention judgment

Siddharth Raghuvanshi said...

Dear sir
I used to mix too louder like around -10db rms ds much loudness damages ear or listening capabilities thank you

John Wick said...

Try to stay in the most quiet area that you can for as long as you can before you begin your mix. Concentrate



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