Wonky stereo image

Hey guys,

The stereo image is slightly wonky in my room. Things that should be dead center appear to be slightly off to the left, only slightly, but noticeable to me. My room isn’t hermetically sealed from the rest of my house, but is perfectly symmetrical, it has been acoustically treated as best as possible for the room I have (without building a concrete room within my room), however the walls are thin, and on the other side of the left wall i have my kitchen, and on the other side of the right wall i have my bedroom with my bed and sound absorbing mattress against the wall. This is what I think is the cause of the wonky image: excessive sound being absorbed on the right side therefore making the left side comparatively louder.

To correct this I have lowered the volume on my left monitor which has pulled the image to the right and back to the center. My question is this: are there any flaws in this solution that I need to know about and consider?

Many thanks.

The acoustics of your listening environment cannot be influenced by a mattress on the other side of a wall. That would have possible impact on the sound isolation quality, but not on reflections and diffusion in your room. This, assuming that the faces of the walls in your room are hard; wood, brick or plaster board. Also, a room in a room would also affect isolation, not acoustics. So there must be another reason for your stereo skew…

The wall is plaster board. That is it. It is also 10mm thick (thin). the kitchen on the left, being composed of hard objects, are likely to reflect sound back. The bedroom on the right, comprising of a mattress and soft material, is likely to absorb sound. Whatever the reason for the skew, what I want to know is whether dropping the volume of the left monitor (which balances up the image) will cause any other issues for me while mixing? I just want to make sure that this is a sensible fix, or if there is a better solution? Thanks.

While your room is undoubtedly coloring your playback, it may or may not be responsible for your un-centered stereo image. I had a problem with centering that ended up being a problem with a cable. I’d test your centering with both headphones and also by swapping your left right speaker cables. If the centering flips it’s likely a problem in your signal path.

I also doubt that what is behind the walls is the cause (but never say never). However the acoustics of the room itself may well be your source.

If the problem is caused by your room acoustics it should be frequency dependent. Download some test tones and see how the centering is at different frequencies.

Extremely helpful raino. Thanks!! I’ve tried swapping the cables and the image actually does reverse to slightly off center to the right. Does this mean it is a faulty cable, interface, or something else? What do I do next to fix this?

It could be any of those things. This is where it gets a bit tedious. You start changing things out, one at a time, until you find the culprit. The key is to only change one thing so you can see what effects the situation. Kind of a drag. But look at it this way - it will really hone your debugging skills, Good luck and be curious.