Let’s make this simple. You can work as you want until you find out that there are differences in the perceived sound, after you lower the volume. I enjoyed the loudness while I was mixing or doing the mastering, I enjoyed in that feeling of 60Hz kick beating in your chest and stomach. And in a short time I figured out that that joy of big bass and kick was not forever, it lasts while you mix in loud volume level.
What is the reason for this different perception on different volume levels?
“The frequency peak in the baby cry is in the range of 3.5kHz, that is the first heard sound, and first and permanent tuning for our ears.”
Our ears are tuned from our birth, mainly by our Creator. The Almighty knows that we will speak with each other as humans, so He tuned our ears so we can best hear in the range that we speak. We speak in the frequency range of 2kHz-5kHz, and because of it, our perception for sound is strongest in that range. Let’s take a look in Fletcher Munson Curve of perceived loudness.
We can easily notice that our hearing is strongest in the range of 2-5kHz. We hear good enough in mid range also, but the main thing is the base thing. Let’s take a look at Base range curvature. We see that the perceived loudness of bass range is almost perceived same as 2-5kHz in louder levels, and vice versa, we can see that the perceived loudness of bass range in low Sound Pressure Level is almost 100% less than 2-5kHz. That tells me that if I do my mix in very loud volume, there will be no base when I’ll reduce the volume level to hear in normal volume.
The Perception in loud levels is fake, the true perception is in loudness that we communicate every day. In that volume level lies the secret of the most balanced perception. As I said before, our ears are tuned to receive what we give, and to endure the levels that are most common for us. In the beginning it is difficult to work like this, but after the first mix, when you will feel the difference, you will never get back and mix again in loud levels. You will feel the bass even in low volume, and you can only imagine what will be the feeling when you crank up the volume of the speakers to check the sound on louder volume. The base will be strong, tight, meaty, and punchy.
Other reason to mix in low level is ear fatigue problem. Let’s make this simple again. You can mix with loudness as much as you want until you work with music 1-2 hours per day. But in real world, with real workflow of 8-12 hours of mixing, recording and mastering you will change your mind. If you don’t, your doctor will. After long time of work with loud volume levels you notice headache, balance problems, strange high buzz sounds, and you will start losing the clarity of sound, especially in range of 5kHz. That is called EAR FATIGUE. With loud volume levels you can do even irreversible damage to your ears. Imagine what happens in the ear when you try to notch out some bad high or harsh frequency in loud volume. You are destroying your main and most valuable tool, your ears.
I have listen to CLA how he says that he does the mix in such loudness that he can hear himself typing on the computer keyboard. And he named that as the reason for his big, clear and punchy tracks with killing bass.
Once upon a time, in my flat, I was doing mastering of an album and mix of two songs and my deadline was two days. I start mixing, and then mastering, that was 48 hours of loudness all the time. My ears were gone. My perception was gone, I went to my doctor and he said that now I must take medicine, and to take a rest and I mustn’t hear music at all for 2-3 weeks. After I learn this lesson, after this personal experience, I’ve never gone back to loud volume mixing. I take care for my ears, also for my speakers, I mix better, my mixes are clearer, louder, with more bass in every mix.
Mix in quiet volume levels because you will have better perception while mixing, and you will be safe from ear fatigue and ear damaging.
Mix in quitter volume levels, to enjoy in the loudness later!!!