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Making beats is something we all love to do, as it allows us to be musically creative and express ourselves from the pads and keys, with the results blaring out of the speakers.
But making beats is not the only thing that beatmakers and producers have to do to obtain a completed product.
Mixing. Yes, mixing. For some, mixing can be tricky and even a struggle, and that's understandable but it's also a necessity.
I used to loathe mixing as well but now I really enjoy it because I just dove right in and embraced the whole concept of mixing. I'm not a mixing genius, but I'm much better at it now than years earlier.
I've always given recommendations and tips about mixing to anyone that will listen, but one thing that I haven't really touched on is soundproofing your room.
What Is Soundproofing?
First, let's get this out of the way: I am not an expert at soundproofing. Far from it! However, I do know that it's extremely important once you take your mixing more seriously.
Soundproofing is where you treat your room with various pads, carpets, and blankets in order to get a better sounding result from your speakers. It also involves the positioning of your speakers in the room, as well as any subwoofers you may have, plus your actual equipment.
It All Depends on Your Room
Everyone's setup is different. Some of you may have a separate room in your house or apartment where you make your beats, but most of you probably just have a small setup in a room that you use for other things. This is okay, and actually it's even more reason why you should do some sort of treatment of your room.
You could go as far as tearing down some walls and putting special treatment behind those walls:
Or even drive yourself crazy by putting padding all over the walls, floor, and ceiling!
The most common type of padding is where you have certain size pads on your walls and the corners that can minimize your sound bouncing off of the walls. What do I mean? Well, it's like this:
Let's say your room is completely empty and you put your desk and all your recording gear on it then hook it up. Your speakers are on stands or on your desk, and you start making beats. What do you think is going to happen?
The sound will echo all over that room.
The reason is because the room is empty. Now if you start adding things into the room like furniture, a carpet, and curtains over the windows, then guess what? Now the sound from your speakers is more "muffled" and not bouncing all over the place.
So this is the same concept with having pads on the walls. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not an expert at soundproofing, but from what I know, the types of pads you put on the walls and where you put them depend on your room setup. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show you how and where to place pads and bass traps, such as this one:
You can put some behind your speakers and your computer monitor, and also in the room corners. You may also need some on the walls on either side of you, and possibly behind you.
The reason why I'm saying "maybe" and "possibly" is because it depends on your room. For example, with my setup, my right speaker is in the corner so it tends to have more bass on it, so I would not put a pad behind that speaker unless I had to. Also, behind me is a window that takes up almost the whole wall so I make sure I have the blinds closed to help with the sound bouncing around.
One trick you can use is to put pads on the walls facing your speakers. The concept is simple: the sound coming from your speakers are aimed at the walls on either side of you, so make sure there are pads there to absorb the sound waves.
The Ideal Setup
Most of the time you will see pictures like this:
That's a great example of where you could possibly put some pads, but most likely you don't have a setup dead center in the middle of the room like that.
This is why the first thing I recommend is you get these Auralex Acoustic Isolation Pads. I bought mine a few years ago and it makes a big difference.
I had my Mackie MR-5 speakers sitting on top of these monitor stands and it was a nice setup. I love Mackie products and those speakers always give me a great reference when mixing. So when I got those stands, it seemed great. The problem is that when I would mix and there was lots of bass pumping from the speakers, it would resonate down into the metal stands.
What happened? My stands were shaking! I could hear vibrating metal from the stands so I knew I had to do something about it.
So the Auralex isolation pads did the trick. They're not expensive and yet they're one of those things that so simple yet such a great investment.
The pads are just foam but they're made in a way that it traps the bass from the speakers so it doesn't resonate down into the stands (or desk) they're on. It's such a simple concept, yet it works.
They come in two pieces where the top part comes off. The reason for this is you might want your speakers to sit flat on the pads, or if you want your speakers to tilt down towards you (that's my choice), then you just don't use the top pads.
You may hear people say that you should use bass traps in your room. Yes, that makes a big difference as well. However, I would really only get those if you have a house with a room just for your studio. If you only have a small setup (as I mentioned above), then I wouldn't bother. This is why those Auralex isolation pads are a great idea.
They Also Cut the Bass
Besides trapping the bass and preventing it from travelling down below to the surface, the Auralex isolation pads also just seem to "cut the bass". It's hard to describe but it's like it just flattens the bass so it's even-sounding with the other frequencies.
For example, when mixing, you want to make sure you have a good pair of studio speakers. The reason for this is because they will give you a flat response of your sound, meaning you won't get extra bass or anything like that, that you would get with just a regular home stereo speaker.
So with the isolation pads, they just make the bass less "bassy", so it's even with everything else. This, in turn, helps you get a much better sounding mix.
The best part of these Auralex pads is that they can be used for any speaker, even for a home theater setup, because there's different sized pads and you can piece them together.
Soundproofing will definitely make a big difference in how your mixes sound. All it is really is that you're trying to minimize how much the sound coming out of your speakers bounces off the walls. That's it.
I've been in tiny isolation rooms that were used for certain instruments or for a very tight vocal recording, and the room was treated so much that it could drive you insane if you stay in there too long.
That's how important room treatment is, so make sure you start adding some things to your room to help with your sound. Even if you don't have a serious setup, there's always something you can do that will help, but the first step would be to get those speaker isolation pads!
If you have any questions or if you just want to show your setup, post below with some pictures.