This tip came from another of those happy accidents. I was working on a mix one day when a client arrived to hear what I’d done. As he sat in my chair to hear the mix, I hit play and then stepped outside the control room to grab a drink. As the door closed I decided to remain outside, mostly so he’d listen to the entire mix before picking it apart. (The minutia this guy would tweak to is legendary in this town) But while outside the closed door, I began to hear the mix differently. I began to hear a number of things that no matter his impending novella of comments, there were things I wanted to fix as well. (Yes I’d given him a legal pad to write on. Something one should always do...and always make your clients listen to the whole mix before commenting.)
As the playback finished I came back in and we went about our changes. But this closed door listen was a good lesson and I was amazed at what I heard listening from there.
Since then, I’ve continued to listen that way on a regular basis. This is a bit related to Tip 32 regarding monitoring with my small monitors off to the side. You can hear a lot when you’re head isn’t stuck between the speakers. And there’s something else that happens when the door closes. The acoustic filtering of the door and walls allow me to hear balances that I don’t hear when inside the room. I read that George Massenburg would listen to mixes outside the room with the door open. I tried that as well, but I like it better with the door closed
So now, even before the clients arrive, I’ll grab my own legal pad and listen to the mix outside the closed door. I found it especially good for vocal levels and oddly enough, it helps me hear if the bottom end is right. It’s now a secondary listening spot. The third of course, my car. (I’m working on a way to mix from there!)