Category Archives: Best Practices

Quick tip: Testing your mix on multiple systems

It’s the oldest trick in the mixing book, and any of you that record have probably done it at one time or another. You burn a mix CD or MP3 and then run around to all the music systems you can find – in the car, the kitchen boombox, the home theater system in the living room. This is a really important step and well worth the effort. Once your mix sounds great in the studio, we need to be sure it sounds great on all systems – not just on a $1000 pair of studio monitors.

But what if it does need some changes to the mix? Then you go make then, burn another cd or MP3 and start the process all over again. This starts to get pretty time intensive given the time it takes to render the mix each go around. So how’s about this simple solution that allows you to audition your mix on all of the systems around your house from within your DAW – allowing you the ability to make any need changes real time, and immediately review them on all your music systems without the need to burn CD’s or MP3’s.

Here’s how:

1) Buy an FM Transmitter – it can be as simple as Car FM Transmitter designed for playing your MP3 player on your car stereo, or as elaborate as an FM Transmitter designed for sending your signal around the whole house. The price will range fro $20 to $200 depending on which approach you go with. Of course, the distance that the signal will travel will vary accordingly and if, like me, you have six-layers of sheetrock soundproofing your studio; you will likely need the more expensive solution.

2) Connect a stereo output from your DAW to the FM Transmitter and set the frequency to a free frequency band (one that is not being used by a radio station). Set up your DAW to play your mix on a loop so that you don’t have to keep coming back to hit play.

3) Now you can tune all of radios in your house that are within reach; to this frequency, and audtion your mix.

4) Make note of any changes in the way the mix sounds on each system, and make any tweaks you like back at the DAW.

The other great advantage of this approach is that you get the opportunity to hear how your mix sounds over the FM waveband. i.e. Would my mix sound good on the radio?

I hope this tip helps save you some time, prevents unnecessary drink coaster creation (CDR waste), and helps improve the quality of your mixes.