5 Common Misconceptions That Engineers & Producers Have

Matt Sim

There’s plenty of information out there online for producers and engineers about audio mixing. But the majority of them are quite misleading. Like everyone else, I used to go through all the magazines, blogs, articles and youtube videos when I was young, trying to pick up all the “tricks” I can get from professionals. I realized I only know half of the story after I started working in the big recording studios.

There are a few misconceptions by producers and engineers that I observed throughout the years. I have made those mistakes also, and I hope you can learn from my experiences!

1. Speaker stands & Acoustic treatments

monitor stands

A lot of people overlooked the importance of the monitor stand while they complained about how their speaker sounds and how their room has terrible acoustic. The result is a lot of them end up losing a lot of money changing studio monitors frequently, or spending a lot on acoustic treatments. Even myself has made that mistake before, when I was younger. I hope you won’t make the same mistakes again.

You should try upgrading your speaker stand to something like Sound AnchorArgosy, etc. that professional studios use. They are really heavy thus won’t resonate with the speaker easily and will decouple your speaker from the floor very well. Feel free to add an isolation pad in between the stand and the speaker.

An alternative option is to have a very well built and heavy studio desk, it will give you a similar result. With a good monitor stand, the low end of the speakers will be very focused and tight and you’ll have a better overall frequency response from the monitors. Once you have a good speaker placement then you can add acoustic treatment to taste, it could save you thousands of dollars chasing for the perfect sounding monitor and doing unnecessary acoustic treatments.

distance between a pair of speakers

Another thing producers and engineers tend to overlook is the distance between a pair of speakers. There’s a reason why speakers are categorized into nearfield, midfield and mains. You shouldn’t place a pair of nearfield speakers super wide, you will lose a lot of low ends because it wasn’t designed to use it that way. The closer you put the speakers, the more low end you ‘ll get. Depending on your setup, you should choose the correct category of speakers based on the distance between them, nearfield for narrowest placement, mains for the broadest placement.

Parallel Processing

While everyone is hyping about parallel processing, not everyone is executing it correctly. We all know there’s plenty of advantages using parallel audio mixing/processing, those are true if used methodically and carefully. If you are using parallel processing in the analog domain, you are set, you don’t have to worry about anything. But if you use it in the digital domain like me, there are few things you will have to consider and pay attention to.

  • Pay attention to the delay compensation and latency issues between the dry signal and parallel signal. The computer often gives an incorrect delay compensation for plugins, therefore it will cause a slightly out of phase and alignment problem between the dry and parallel signal. I would recommend trying a few plugins on the parallel chain and see what is working accurately without causing phase issues.
  • Make sure you are using linear phase EQ!!!
  • I would recommend using plugins with mix knob (dry/wet) to create a similar parallel processing effect…