EAR FATIGUE IS UNAVOIDABLE BUT WITH PROPER TECHNIQUE YOU CAN MANAGE YOUR EAR HEALTH THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND AVOID THE MIX MISTAKES YOU WILL MAKE WITH WITH TIRED EARS.
As you know, the most important tool for your mix is your ears, so you need to be careful in looking after them. I‘m not so much talking in the long term sense, I‘m talking on the actual day of mixing. Chances are that, if you have normal ears, you‘re only going to get several hours of premium and critical listening ability in one day so you need to take every step possible to minimise ear fatigue. Tired ears can‘t judge balances and subtleties properly in a mix, so if you mix with fatigued ears your mix is mostly likely going to fall out of shape. One simple way of knowing if your ears are tired is the following: if you find your self going back and forth between whether a part is a dB too loud or quiet, or too bright or not etc..and you can‘t decide, then your ears are tired. Here are some vital tips to follow to keep your ears happy during a mixing session:
- Work at a comfortable low volume. If you keep the levels at a low comfortable level you will be able to judge all the balances, levels and subtleties better, and you‘ll also be keeping your ears fresh for a longer period of time. Avoid the temptation to crank the volume. Loud music only creates artificial energy and excitement, the goal is to make your tune sound fantastic, punchy and exciting at a comfortable level. Aim for a level which you can still clearly hear your keys typing, or buttons being pressed over the music, and can easily talk over the music. If you need to raise your voice to talk over the music then it‘s going to be too loud for a quality mixing session.
- Don‘t repeat sections of the song needlessly. It‘s a common symptom, you‘ve just created the most awesome drum track and you keep repeating it over and over marvelling in your glory. Don‘t do this. Not only will you be tiring your ears, but you‘ll also be loosing your vital clean perspective and overall vision. Keep your workflow productive and always push forward. Once you‘ve nailed a solid section move straight on to the next. You won’t over saturated your perspective and you‘ll find it easier making overall decisions about the song and mix.
- Take regular breaks. Taking a break on your mix at least every 45 minutes is not only good for keeping your ears fresh, but it‘s also good to rest your psychological perspective of the mix. You‘ll always come back from your short break with a better ear and some better ideas on what to do next.