MixChecker: Behind the scenes

Posted by Audified Crew on

The more people get familiar with our MixChecker, the more questions from the musicians and producers we get. And that is awesome. We are glad you are curious. Those questions deserve answers. We gathered members of our team and let each of them be answered by the most qualified person...

Where does the idea for MixChecker come from?

Jakub (Marketing Director): Our team developed the technology for MixChecker quite a long time ago to be used for some of our other products as well as it served for the purposes of of the Academy of Performing Arts.
The idea for MixChecker itself comes from the needs some of us experienced in our previous jobs. I – for example – used to work in TV Promotion business. We always suffered from the fact, that our TV trailers always sounded great in the studio but listening from a TV set was a nightmare. So we used a TV set as a reference monitor in that time. And it was a hassle. We wished to find a quicker way to get to better sound.

Later we discussed the topic within the Audified team and thought there are more people with such need. They mix not only for TV, but for radio stations, computer games, mobile OS games etc. And the idea was here. Let's make something, that would make their life easier. Just test and go. No setting up, no exporting, no wiring. And the MixChecker was here.

Is MixChecker accurate?

Lubor (CEO): Mixchecker does not simulate each device on consumer market exactly – it would not be even possible. The goal of this tool is not to create a real model of particular device as such. It shouldn't be used as an effect. MixChecker should be considered a guide that shows you the weaknesses of your mix regarding to various types of devices. For example: if you are mixing an advertisement that will mostly be viewed on smartphones – you cannot determine what particular type of phone will be the most used one. But all smartphones have some sound parameters in common – so MixChecker can give you some realistic picture. 

You may have noticed our guitar speaker simulator (MultiCabinet – the technology is also used in ampLion Pro and GK Amplification 2), in which you may change the position of the listening point (or miking) using three parameters, but this is exactly what we wanted to avoid when creating MixChecker. We wanted to create just one typical characteristics of each device combining the measurements, and it was not easy.

Is it professional?

Lubor: Absolutely. We have used the best possible conditions for measurements – a professional system which costs thousand times more than the best audio interfaces. Also the results were processed in a complicated way: We have even written an application, computing the characteristics from all the measured results.
So even if MixChecker base is a convolution engine, there is a lot of other work in the final product. The above mentioned MultiCabinet is a plug-in doing only convolution. There is much more behind MixChecker.
Vlada (Lead Programmer for MixChecker): In addition to what Lubor says, we used professional software with DSP toolboxes. Each device was measured in echo-free chamber from several distances with different microphone positions. We made well over 300 measurments instances to create MixChecker models. Then we discussed the measurements with audio professionals and even with professional musicians at the academy, so we have great feedback, which measurements are useful.

I never had such terrible sound from my earbuds, say a lot of users...

Jakub: The users of MixChecker are more than likely people who choose their headphones very carefully. The sound of the earbuds in MixChecker is really weak – but it has a reason. We did not include any kind of hi-end audiophile earbuds – because then you wouldn't get the realistic picture on what the average people would hear (using mostly the earbuds that are distributed with their smartphones etc.). 
Vlada: We used a special artificial masuring head to capture the image of the headphones. We believe there is no better way to do it in present days. Also, have you ever thought about the fact how much the sound of your headphones depends on the position and the way you wear them? Well we have. So the models of the headphones and earbuds are the result of the mean of several measurements in different positions and different models. The biggest influence can be noticed on low frequencies – as you may see in the picture. This picture illustrates the measurements of on-ear headphones, five measurements are averaged in this case. After that, the measurement system characteristics is compensated so we get the final result without the influence of the system, including the “ear characteristics” for extra-aural headphones.

Is MixChecker for me?

Jakub: Everybody should be aware of the problem and everybody should check their mixes somehow. MixChecker can be substituted in several ways. You may export your mixes and do round checks on several devices, write down your thoughts and feelings and than make corrections in your mixes and do the same round again. But this may cost a lot of time and time (in professional studio) means a lot of money. In some conditions (broadcast...), you even do not have the chance to do so. So the answer depends on how much you value your time. MixChecker can save a few hours on a project. That can make few days a month or weeks a year. And that is a hell lot of time. 

Is MixChecker going to gain any new features in future?

Lubor: MixChecker is a living product, there will be evolution, but we would like to keep it as simple as it is now. Yes, we have gathered some thoughts for the first update already. And we are open to any more suggestions. Even if they don't concern the MixChecker – we will be happy if you write us.

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