Because we at Headliner support the creative community, we decided to get a little creative ourselves this month. We’ve carried out a little experiment that we think might help bedroom producers on a budget, who don’t have the room to bring in their favourite studio monitors, to see if it’s actually feasible to mix a master using only headphones as reference. Think of it as a project studio at its very barest.
Now don’t get us wrong - it’s ludicrous to suggest people don’t need studio monitors. Of course they do; they’re the bread and butter of any recording facility. But we’re going to test a particular set of headphones out to see if the accuracy of sound reproduction and overall dynamic range cuts the mustard; we’ll see how easy (or not) is it to mix at low levels, and find out if and when fatigue becomes an issue when you’re tweaking frequencies and levels for hours on end. For this test, we’ve got the stems from our recent ‘Headliner Helps’ show, which was recorded onto Reaper at 48kHz, using a DiGiCo UB MADI, straight out of an SD11 console. Mics on stage were by DPA (d:facto), and we had BSS DIs on the acoustic guitars. The headphones: Audio-Technica’s flagship M70x.
To make it more challenging, we’re going to do this in three different environments: 30,000 feet in the air; on a bustling train; and on the site of a roman burial ground! We’re then going to send the mixes to Shaun Lowe, who owns Prism Studios in Stoke, to see what he thinks, before Barry Grint, at London’s Alchemy Mastering, cuts us a master. When that’s done, we’ll put the tracks out, donating all proceeds to Jessie’s Fund.
In The Pub
This issue, we’re going to concentrate on the ‘Roman Remains Mix’. I arrive at The Six Bells, an ancient tavern dating back 1,000 years, located on a roman burial ground in the heart of St. Albans. It was also the location of our first ‘Headliner Helps’ event, where we raised £3,000 for our chosen charity, Jessie’s Fund.
Armed with my MacBook, an RME Babyface Pro USB audio interface, and my ATH-M70x cans, I spot a table in the corner, and get to work. The place is very busy, which is what I want, to see how much of a distraction it becomes, and whether it affects my mix.