Avantone Mixcube: Pure Mixing Magic!
This little (but hefty) powered mono speaker is the absolute key to better audio mixes. (And yes, Audio Engineering is a real thing!). In fact, without the magic of audio engineering and mixing, you wouldn’t hear your favorite music.
There are three absolutely critical things with mixing:
- Mix for the “lowest common denominator” which would be midrange on small crappy speakers. Taking it one step further – mix for mono. Hence why I bought only one Avantone Mixcube. Sounds that have phasing problems or noise show up clearly in this little gem of a speaker – and these problems don’t show up on any headphones, or my previous monitors, the iLoud. I have replaced the iLouds with Yamaha HS-5’s. But yeah, when a mix sounds good on the Aventone, it sounds great on a good system – like the HS-5’s
- Use the right Mic and place them correctly. I was smitten with ribbon mics, but they have to be used judiciously. Each mic is a specialized tool
- Be very careful and judicious with effects. Between the stereo frequency field – where sounds compete and rob each other in their use of that fields headroom – and phasing issues, some effects cause serious noise. I’ve learned chorus can be replaced with vibrato and reverb with delay
I’m amazed at what skill you have to have to be a good audio mixer and also what an art and science it is.
Here’s my new workflow:
- Use the right mic with the right placement
- Record using the Volt 276 and Yamaha HS-5 – as I’ve always done – I get a really rough stereo mix at the end
- Mixing starts by setting levels and panning using the SSL2 and Aventone speaker
- Set master to mono
- Reduce masking with EQ using a parametric equalizer
- Eliminate phase cancellation using a correlation meter plugin. Use an invert phase or delay where necessary
- Check panning and levels in stereo
- Add spatial and time based effects
- Check the stereo mix levels and balance again
- Listen on a cheap device like a cell phone
I just went back and followed this workflow to fix what was a terrible mix – Ten Tin Heads. Its light years better, but I can see my choice of microphones wasn’t the best. But the magic of mixing mono is very clear, and I was able to salvage that song.
Now that I understand this approach and process, I’ll use it right from the start and check recorded tracks as I record them. If something is wrong I’ll fix right away.