View Single Post
Old 06-16-2021, 02:50 PM   #22
Human being with feelings
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: PNW, USA
Posts: 508

Originally Posted by Lynx_TWO View Post
This might be a dumb question, but... Why would you want or need a "reference" when music is a subjective human experience? Seems to me a reference would mean you are trying to align your feeling with someone else telling you how to feel.
I think I can take a stab at this:

Unless you're a serious veteran with thousands of hours of mixing and mastering time, and a perfectly tuned listening environment/system that you're well accustomed to, you need references.

The sensory experience of hearing is very fleeting, it changes pretty fast - i.e. your ears hear different things at different times. That can lead you to take your mix in the wrong direction - it might be internally well-balanced or whatever, but it's 'tuned' to whatever hearing state your ears were in at one time or another (along with your playback system and listening environment).

References help to bring you out of that bubble.

It's a lot easier to compare and contrast sounds, like one mix versus another, distinguish and judge differences, than it is to pick the 'right' sound out of thin air. I'm mainly thinking of this as a circumscribed exercise, because early-on in the process it's easier (for me anyway) to pick things out of thin air - and probably the right way to do it. But later in the process it isn't. And really, as the process wears on, you're not picking things out of thin air, but rather, you're judging based on preconceptions established by the mix you've already made - if the mix you've already made is on the wrong track but you don't realize it - because you're just familiar with it, and familiarity is half of what makes something sound 'good' - then subsequent mix moves will be wrong...

So, unless you're mixing only for your personal consumption, it's best to try to have your mix translate to other places, systems, sets of ears, etc. - and references can help you do that...

Not using references would be a bit like this: you're a construction worker, working all day in a noisy environment, you need to yell in order to communicate with co-workers. And you need to swear a lot to make your points. You go to a fine dining establishment after work to meet a 'nice' person you met on Tinder. You keep talking really loudly, you keep peppering your conversation with swear words. Your date isn't impressed.
eq1 is offline   Reply With Quote