Chris Carter’s Tips for Setting Volume While Mixing

What are those pieces of tape on my monitor controller you ask?!??!???

Well, let me explain. I spend almost all of my mix time monitoring at one volume. It’s roughly 83-84ish dB.

I don’t use the “dot” on the knob of the controller. Instead I use the right dot that is under the orange piece of tape that used to say “max” but it rubbed off a little. I have my monitor controller calibrated so that the exact middle of my controller (with the knob dot at 12:00) I’m mixing at that 84dB level and this is purely so that I have plenty of room to turn the knob left or right if I need to.

So once there, I stuck a piece of orange tape such that the left side of the piece of tape, when placed on that ‘max’ dot, sets me at that 84dB level. Since the tape goes all the way to the bottom of the knob, and that area is within clear line of site from where I sit, I can hit that mark easily. Obviously, for this to work properly, all your mixes generally need to be the same volume, but that’s easy (and good practice as well!) Now for the blue mark. When I mix, I mix about 12dB quieter than a typical mastered record. There will be some variance from record to record, depending on who did the mastering and how loud the label wanted it. I shoot for 12dB below what I think the mastered level should be – which if nothing else will be within a dB or so of just about any record out there (despite what people proclaim, there’s really not THAT much difference in volume among major label releases of the same genre).

So if I want to listen to something mastered, I just go to the blue mark,

which is 12dB below the orange mark which would give me the same volume from the speakers. Coincidentally, most of you know I’m a fan of these little tiny 2 inch speakers I have and they only spit out about 65dB max. I have the controller calibrated so that on the orange mark they are doing about 60dB. Again, switching between a mix at orange and a mastered mix at blue on the little speakers will obviously give me the same volume out of the speakers. Special note: the fact that the blue tape lines up with the “-inf” dot is PURE coincidence.

You will see lots of mix engineers do this (or some variation of it) and you’ll particularly see mastering engineers do it. There’s a reason: IT WORKS!



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