At what levels (loud/soft) do you guys mix?

Aloha guys,

Of course with clients present, mixing happens at whatever levels they want
(and of course I try and talk them down) but when I mix alone
(and after re-reading Owlsinski’s ‘The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook’
for the third time :slight_smile:),

I am now trying to mix at around 85 db. ±10 either way.

My question:
Do you guys mix at a consistent level or are you
‘all over the map’.

Just wondering how you guys handle this part of the job.
With and without clients present.

TIA (thank in advance)

I set everything at 11…

The Spinal Tap approach is one way … :smiley: But I work the way Steve does. I listen several times and set my mixer and effects mostly by trial and error. ( I still believe that my novice skills necessitate this) While gaining some predictability of the controls and other functions, I think Monday nights session will change a moderate amount on Tuesday. Eventually it seems as though I have reached a point of no return and hit Save as.

I have a set of Roland D-90 monitors and they do an OK job for me but the headphones always seem to change the sound to a “crisper” output. I know it is directing sound directly down the ear canal and eliminates some spacial differences but I have yet to discover if I can retain specific qualities if I were to just make the CD and play it thru someone’s stereo

By The Way: As I am thinking about this question, I recognize that there are probably more guys using Cubase that are engineer types than recording musicians.

My road to Cubase was when I actually had a few dollars in 2004 and walked into Guitar Center. The pro audio room was very quiet and my discussion with the person there led to a few demos. He was a keyboard player so with his abilities as a player and as a software seller, he had 30 or so tracks that just played so nicely. He showed me how it tracks and tracks and tracks . I looked at it like a digital multi-track recorder. Walked out SL or SX 2 and a MOTU 896HD

It took me some time to get the first tracks to record and play but after 6-7 years, I started getting the hang of it :unamused:

I have always done this…

Pick a spot on your main monitor level control and “mark” it (label, tape, whatever). I usually go with a spot between 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock.

With my monitor level set at the “mark”, I adjust the level of my powered monitors so that I am hitting 85db at my “sweet spot”.

That way I have a repeatable 85db, and I can adjust my monitors to whatever level(s) I want to during my mixing, but can still come back to 85db for final mix checks and such…

Aloha k,
Not to hijack my own thread but I think not.
I asked this very question back in January.

You can read that here:


From another thread (but works here as well):

BriHar > » > Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:17 am
A regular Nigel Tufnel ehh?


Well that was very enlightening. I’ve thought about this question over the last week or so. I thought about how to ask with out injecting my own bias into it. But it would appear to me that there ARE more computer music makers than musicians. Again, without my own prejudices about just playing a " traditional " instrument…which by the way would normally not need the word TRADITIONAL, I understand the post by Norbury Brook stating that there was little overlap by musicians, engineers and producers.

I’m not talking about the days of tape versus computer recording but persons who played the instruments and those who recorded it.

So with clearly defined work assignments, where do you draw this new line? As for producer, I still don’t think I have a clear understanding of that one.

I will say this much: I am learning much with these discussions, I typically don’t go out much and talk about this kind of stuff as there is not a big local cluster of people to do that with.

Because you are at that ‘learning’ stage
you are in a position to be a lot more objective about
this recording/DAW universe than many of us
older/ set-in-our-ways/this-is-how-it-is done users.

You can see/hear this stuff with much fresher eyes/ears than us.

So speak out whenever you can and then listen.

And when you do speak out, I for one will be listening.

Well thank you Curteye. I just need to let you know…I’m not chronologically young. I’ll be 60, started playing around 1959 when I was 6. My “youngness” comes from the inexperience but new discovery of the current status of music recording. I find it exciting to be able to do the newer things in music that I was taught is only done with either multi-track recorders and several musicians playing " instruments" or live on a stage or pit…but that was HOW it was done, no other options.

So. Set in my ways is sort of my motto. I think my bias comes from my knowing so many great players. I hate to make it sound like bragging as it is not the way i do things but since we’re here open to world scrutiny.WHat the heck…my musical history goes a long way. Being exposed to some great artists not only as a fan and being there as it happened but thru family. My youth was spent with some guitar greats. I was always so inspired and driven. I was heavily controlled ( lets say…guided) as a kid and was rarely allowed to follow my interests. My guardian had very different career paths pre-determined despite my resistance and genetics.

To see someone sit down and tap keys is admirable and the results are good but to watch someone play melodic runs on a guitar neck, piano keyboard or blow a horn, for me, is such a different talent…maybe it’s more depth of soul ? I’m not sure yet as I never thought about it until typing this sentence. I realize anyone might dispute talents. So maybe that’s not the word

Shoot Getting a little too intense, well hope you get the idea. Maybe it just stubbornness

Might be of some interest. Check out Chris Lord-Alge’s take on mixing :

Check out what he says about mixing levels/monitoring:

-specifically from 1:27- 2:50


I’d also side predominantly with various levels, but I do have my references. Early in mixing I will use 85 dB although I am now changing to 83dB SPL as recommended by Katz and Dolby etc. This level I will use to mix more from a frequency aspect as at this level the ear hears the spectrum at it’s flattest (see Fletcher Munsen). Later I will mix more generally at about 72dB, and I am a great fan of dimming which is a great tool provided your studio is quiet. Since building the new studio, I find the 72dB adequate but, and perhaps it’s also to do with age, need to drive it up, and 83 seems ideal - 85 almost too loud now.

Hey Jeff, Nice link! Makes me want to do some remixes…NOW

Good Topic too.

Well Curteye showed me his question regarding engineers, producers and musicians and which might be more prevelant users of Cubase… Maybe the question is " Who is over 50? and who is Under 50 ?" :laughing:

Lots of answers have age related outcomes… yup, me too.

I try to keep it as soft as possible. Every now and then I turn up the volume just to make sure it sounds OK also when it’s loud.

Never measured dB values, but I would guess it’s around 75dB.

Pretty much the same as Jarno… i remember reading an interview with the late great Andy Johns many years back, as well as one or two others, i think Bob Clearmountain was one of them… which basically said that you should be able to have a conversation at a normal level with someone sitting about two feet away from you… seems about right to me, just turn it up occasionally to check out what the lower bottom end is up to.

Well conversational speech is listed as 65db spl. You may have a good plan as you describe it

Same here, i also turn down the volume every now and then, to check if all the improtant elements (like vocals) are still audible.

I use the K-14 spec and try to keep the “normal” volume at the threshold between green and yellow on the BlueCat Peak Meter Pro spectrum. For sections that are supposed to be a bit louder, I’ll go midway in the yellow band but never into the red band.

Off the top of my head I can’t recall what these colors correspond to in terms of dBs. :frowning:

When I’m creating I want it loud I need to feel sound and it’s not because it feels good. We’ll get to that in a minute. When I’m mixing it depends upon what my ears are doing for the day. Define loud. I’m dealing with a handicap. I’m partially deaf, and it’s not caused by sound levels over the years. I worked and lived in quiet environments. My background is piano. I played 50 years. My studios were pretty dry and I didn’t damage my hearing in them. I have normal hearing loss in on ear (age related). My other ear fluctuates and drives me crazy. So headphones are out. I mix in mono at whatever seems to be a reasonable volume which is usually around I guess about 80 dB.