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Nx Virtual Mix Room and Abbey Road Studio 3 suggestions

In 2020, I purchased Nx VMR, ARS3, and the Head Tracker. I think they are fantastic, but have a few suggestions for both of them.

ARS3:

  1. Add the left to right and front to back motion support to ARS3. I believe that Nx VMR is the better of the two plugins for this reason. This motion allows the peaks and valleys in the frequency response to move around so that you can get a flatter average as happens in the real world.
  2. This is possibly related to #1 above, but in ARS3, I noticed a pretty big boost in the Far field monitors between 40 and 80 Hz , and a bit of a cut between 80 and 200.Hz. The Mid field monitors have a pretty wide boost between 50 and 150 Hz. These are big enough to really throw your perceived bass content off.

Nx VMR:
I believe it would be very useful to have room / speaker simulations of different real world non-studio environments. Essentially, Audified’s Mixchecker done right.

I like your different monitor suggestions for NX. I’d also like to see a bigger selection of headphone calibrations as well.

Although, I also follow the school of thought that as long as you have decent set of speakers that are relatively flat and without any hype of huge dips in its frequency response, then as long as you’re familiar with how music sounds on it in general, then it’s enough to get the job done. It’s all about points of reference, and if your ears become accustomed to hearing all music on it, than that effectively trains the ear into how things “should” sound.

Of course rooms themselves can contribute significantly to huge peaks or dips, which is why a good set of headphones would always be the preferred method for me in that particular situation. Plugins like NX or ARS are like icing on the cake for me while using headphones. It’s like it offers another perspective in a different space, essentially like using a second set of reference speakers. Because my ears have been trained to see my headphones as “neutral” it still reveals a useful perspective to me.

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Hi Simon.

As most people’s auditory memory is terrible, I am a big believer in the technique of listening to recordings of music you like through your system, and then adjusting a separate monitoring EQ so that these recordings sound the way you want them to (mostly adjustments of bass and treble). You then create your mix through this monitor EQ (the monitor EQ is NOT part of the final mix). By doing that, your mix will sound like you want it to and will most likely fall inline with the rest of the world.

As for mix rooms, the designers try to keep the peaks and dips to a minimum, but due to floor reflections, console surface reflections, and standing waves, it’s impossible to do. For that reason, I believe that mixing on a system like Nx VMR can actually be better than a real room. As Nx uses an algorithm, these acoustical anomalies can be kept under control. This in fact is what I see when comparing the flatness of Nx with ABS3.

So, once your “mixing room” has been flattened, it makes sense to me to then provide the engineer simulations of real world listening environments, as these are the actual environments your customers will listen to your mix in. I realize that this would be a big project, but would give the mix engineer a much better “view” into the real world than a few additional sets of smaller speakers. The Nx system is perfect for this.

Tom

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Yes I believe these “real world listening environments” are important for a reference framework. This may even be as something as simple as laptop speakers and ear buds, because that IS how the real world is listing to its music.

You can’t make a bad system sound good, but you can make sure your mix translates well is it possible on a bad system without any negative impacts on on better systems. While NX and Abbey Road Studios are great resources to reference what something would sound like on a good system in a good environment, I’d still like to see some other environments being emulated. Things like the aforementioned laptop speakers or earbuds. Personally I think they are more relevant today than the “car check” as teenagers don’t drive.

Hopefully the Waves folks will read this thread and make “other environments” a reality. But, those other environments should be done in Nx so that side-to-side and front-to-back motion are tracked. I can’t overstate how important head tracking is. Many people consider it a gimmick, but it isn’t. It’s part of how we compensate for acoustic imperfections in the real world. Run pink noise through Nx with an averaging frequency analyzer on its output and move your head around; you’ll see what I mean.

For the moment, I’m running MixChecker Pro through Nx as a way to place some “real world” speakers into an acoustic space with head tracking. I believe this is a legitimate thing to do as the Nx frequency response looks to lie within a +/-3.dB range; pretty flat for an “acoustic environment”.

Head Tracking is indeed very important. I’ve spent a great deal of time explaining the reasons to people why across the internet. I always recommend the Bluetooth Head Tracker because its more accurate and it frees up your head movement. Simply scratching your nose could throw a camera tracker.

I agree these other “environments” should be introduced inside NX as it enable you to quickly flick back from one to the other for easy comparisons. Like switching between several speakers in a high budget studio.

I use both the BT tracker and a camera. The frame rate increase when using both is totally worth it. They did a great job with Sensor Fusion, and I don’t find that the tracking is throw off by momentary camera disruptions. Quite the contrary, you get less center drift when using both.

Initially, I tried to use my Macs built-in camera along with the BT tracker, but that proved unsatisfactory. So, I purchased a better quality no-name camera and found that it worked much better. It’s fine in the daytime when there is plenty of diffuse light, but at night it requires more light than is comfortable. I’d like to try a low light or even an IR camera, but what I have works well enough.

I believe that other less perfect environments are better than different sets of speakers in a great mixing room or a simulation. But, it would be a huge project to find the right group of “real world” listening environments. That’s one of my gripes with MixChecker Pro; some of the speaker simulations are just bizarre. I just don’t trust them. I found about about eight of their simulations to be useful.

Oh sure, when using both the Camera tracker and the Bluetooth tracker you do get more high precision tracking.

I was referring to bluetooth being better than camera tracking alone. It’s the camera tracking by itself that might get confused by momentary disruptions.

In terms of reference tests, I’m with the impression as long as you can cut off a heap of lows or a heap of highs or both and the mix still translates, then you’re doing well.

Yes, I agree. If you had to choose one, BT is best.

I think you’re essentially correct about removing lows (below 100 Hz), but the highs are a different story. I think it’s easier to make a low cost speaker / headphones with decent high end than low end. With Mixchecker Pro, about half of the speaker curves I find useful have a pretty steep roll off above 8 or 10.k. The others are reasonably flat in that range. About half of them have approximately 6.dB boost between 100 and 200 Hz.

So, I still think that, once your speakers or headphones have been flattened, applying an EQ that makes most commercially produced music sound right to you is the way to go. Your mixes will by definition end up with spectral content that is in line with commercial releases.

Yes, but you don’t necessarily need “flattened” spears to make the mix translate. If you music sounds just as good as anything else you’ve played on it then you’s be on the money. It’s all about relativity.

The thing is, by listening to other music regularly on the system you set yourself up a “control”. Something that you can decisively declare as “neutral” and everything else can be measured against it. It’s something that you’re ears will start to automatically do after a short period of time.

Without those references, though, you have no way of knowing what neutral “sounds like”. In which case it would then be easy to become biased based on your monitoring. Even with a flat system you can become biased. It’s all to easy to create a mix that translates well on that system and not on others. Thats why reference monitors like the NS10s or the Auratones were introduced to the pro studios to help combat this. So a flat system won’t necessarily help.

As long as you’re familiar with your system, and reference regular music and other speakers you can still do a damn fine job creating a mix that will translate.

Music contains particular frequencies due to the key it’s in, instrumentation, and melody. So for example, if your reference music just happens to contain bass frequencies that sit on peaks in your monitor/room frequency response, and the bass in your music just happens to sit in valleys, you may boost your bass in the mix to compensate. When both pieces of music are then played back on different systems with different peaks and valleys, you run the risk of your bass being too loud on average. So, I think it’s very important that your mixing environment to be as peak and valley free as is possible. That’s what I mean by flat.

Yes that can happen, especially if you’re not aware of the problem. It certainly was the traditional way of thinking.

However, like many ideas and opinions that were formed many decades ago it seems it was form based on a narrow view. We’ve learned more since then, but still old habits and old information die hard. Like the “car check” or egg cartons on the wall for the layman.

I’m not saying its wrongful thinking, just “incomplete”.

Typically, the more experienced you are you start being able to see through these issues which is why most “pros” can mix on just about anything. The large key to this is ear training. To get good at mixing you also need good ear training. You see the parallel here??

So as your ear develops you’re not just identifying what mix moves sound good or bad in a given context, but you are also identifying what a good mix should sound like on a given system. Whether you use several monitors or several references the net effect is still the same, ear training. If you do both the result is potentially even better, more inclusive.

Ear training will happen regardless of how good your monitors or environment is. If you’re paying attention of course and working hard at improving. However, having a good set up could potentially make it a bit easier and possibly a bit speedier to achieve good results.

It certainly does help companies sell expensive speaker and acoustic solutions, however.

Well, I think we’ve hit the point where our opinions diverge. To me, it’s like a movie director with poor eyesight. Through experience he can learn to compensate for what he sees, but with glasses he doesn’t have to.

That said, I am a firm believer in doing whatever you’re comfortable with and works for you. There are lots of successful and productive people in the world who believe in, and do things, that make no sense to me, but they get the job done.

The other thing is, I’m not a professional mix engineer. Although I earned my living as an electrical engineer working primarily in the musical instrument product space for just over 30 years (now retired), my interest in recording and mixing has been aimed solely at my own oddball music. So, I don’t need to train myself to be able to walk into an unfamiliar space and get good mixing results.

As for cost, that’s another advantage of working on headphones. Nx VMR w/ headtracker, a bass shaker, and a decent set of headphones, is way less expensive than a treated acoustic space and several sets of powered speakers.

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Yeah, to each their own. What really matters is the results. What does it matter if you can play golf using a shovel, as long as the results speak for themselves.

I am under the impression though, that there are those who are more capable of “adapting” than others, generally speaking and not just in the studio. There are those that don’t feel like they can do a job without a specific piece of kit or technique, and those who will figure another way.

Neither is wrong really, its just part of what defines us as individuals.

Yep, I agree. But, how’d you know I played golf with a shovel? :golfing_man:

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