Virtual Headhpone Studio Solutions

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
chagzuki
KVRAF
2403 posts since 26 Mar, 2002 from london

Post Tue Aug 31, 2021 12:57 am

I've tried a few options in the last couple of weeks. I must say, so far I'm more confused by what I've encountered than feeling like I've moved towards 'the solution'.
The free Acustica Sienna rooms are quite pleasing to my ears and I did quickly adjust to, and apparently derive benefit from, the sense of bass presence. I remastered a track using it, and the upper frequencies on the mid channel seemed very pronounced: I wondered if Sienna was revealing to me a mistake in what I'd previously done with panning and mid/side relationships, so I used to m/s EQ to rebalance things.

Then I tried Waves Ocean Way. Now it seemed that the mid/side relationships were much the same as the original mix, and based on that one would have to conclude that it's Sienna which is incorrectly processing things, making the mid channel too prominent. As others have commented, Ocean Way gives the impression of being spectrally balanced, however, listening to the original mix through it I got the impression that the lower mids were too cluttered, and I started to wonder if I'd have to go back to the mix and cut spaces out of that area to let it breath... which struck me as odd since I'm pretty aggressive with high passing and separating bass and lower mid instruments, and I'd not felt they were cluttered on any other reference system.

Comparing Waves Ocean Way and Acustica Sienna gives me the impression that OW blurs the lower mids significantly, and therefore represents them misleadingly.
Using either of these two along would lead me to make some bad decisions, or so it seems to me.

The HD 600 headphone correction is similar on these two plugins, and I've also tried Sonarworks. Now, Sonarworks treats HD 600 correction completely differently... and I'm leaning towards the conclusion (though there probably aren't any hard conclusions in this area) that Sonarworks is doing bad things in the 2-4Khz area. A web search brought up one thread with similar concerns... which lead me to start to read a little about the methodologies for headphone profiling, and as _leras says there are many approaches... it seems to be a fairly uncertain field. So I'm not convinced that using any of these plugins along will lead me to make better decisions.

Edit: I should say that the exaggerated upper mid channel in Sienna is the same in the two different free rooms that I've tried, so I don't think it's a quality of a specific room model, but something to do with the core modelling tech.
Every day takes figuring out all over again how to f#ckin’ live.

AC222
KVRian
1055 posts since 17 Jun, 2012

Post Tue Aug 31, 2021 5:06 am

chagzuki wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 12:57 am
I've tried a few options in the last couple of weeks. I must say, so far I'm more confused by what I've encountered than feeling like I've moved towards 'the solution'.
The free Acustica Sienna rooms are quite pleasing to my ears and I did quickly adjust to, and apparently derive benefit from, the sense of bass presence. I remastered a track using it, and the upper frequencies on the mid channel seemed very pronounced: I wondered if Sienna was revealing to me a mistake in what I'd previously done with panning and mid/side relationships, so I used to m/s EQ to rebalance things.

Then I tried Waves Ocean Way. Now it seemed that the mid/side relationships were much the same as the original mix, and based on that one would have to conclude that it's Sienna which is incorrectly processing things, making the mid channel too prominent. As others have commented, Ocean Way gives the impression of being spectrally balanced, however, listening to the original mix through it I got the impression that the lower mids were too cluttered, and I started to wonder if I'd have to go back to the mix and cut spaces out of that area to let it breath... which struck me as odd since I'm pretty aggressive with high passing and separating bass and lower mid instruments, and I'd not felt they were cluttered on any other reference system.

Comparing Waves Ocean Way and Acustica Sienna gives me the impression that OW blurs the lower mids significantly, and therefore represents them misleadingly.
Using either of these two along would lead me to make some bad decisions, or so it seems to me.

The HD 600 headphone correction is similar on these two plugins, and I've also tried Sonarworks. Now, Sonarworks treats HD 600 correction completely differently... and I'm leaning towards the conclusion (though there probably aren't any hard conclusions in this area) that Sonarworks is doing bad things in the 2-4Khz area. A web search brought up one thread with similar concerns... which lead me to start to read a little about the methodologies for headphone profiling, and as _leras says there are many approaches... it seems to be a fairly uncertain field. So I'm not convinced that using any of these plugins along will lead me to make better decisions.

Edit: I should say that the exaggerated upper mid channel in Sienna is the same in the two different free rooms that I've tried, so I don't think it's a quality of a specific room model, but something to do with the core modelling tech.
Brillian post, mate! I agree totally with these observations as well as a previous poster's take on CLA NX having woofy lows on the mains and something being a bit off for th3 ns10s + sub. My feeling right or wrong is that these products offer another reference point but not sure they bring us much closer to ideal monitoring solutions just yet.

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_leras
KVRian
969 posts since 20 Apr, 2005

Post Wed Sep 01, 2021 11:38 am

AC222 wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 5:06 am
chagzuki wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 12:57 am
The HD 600 headphone correction is similar on these two plugins, and I've also tried Sonarworks. Now, Sonarworks treats HD 600 correction completely differently... and I'm leaning towards the conclusion (though there probably aren't any hard conclusions in this area) that Sonarworks is doing bad things in the 2-4Khz area. A web search brought up one thread with similar concerns... which lead me to start to read a little about the methodologies for headphone profiling, and as _leras says there are many approaches... it seems to be a fairly uncertain field. So I'm not convinced that using any of these plugins along will lead me to make better decisions.

Edit: I should say that the exaggerated upper mid channel in Sienna is the same in the two different free rooms that I've tried, so I don't think it's a quality of a specific room model, but something to do with the core modelling tech.
Brillian post, mate! I agree totally with these observations as well as a previous poster's take on CLA NX having woofy lows on the mains and something being a bit off for th3 ns10s + sub. My feeling right or wrong is that these products offer another reference point but not sure they bring us much closer to ideal monitoring solutions just yet.
I agree the rooms are in many ways just a set of reference points - but - I do think they add the reference points of 'good rooms' along with all the spatial information that you miss in headphones.

In terms of making an ideal monitoring solution - yeah hard to say. I think I've accepted that as long as my headphone correction is fixing the major peaks and troughs then I'm happy enough. I think that has been working pretty well without the rooms. And I think the rooms are a bonus and help highlight things that headphones with no cross talk miss, and also let me check the low end quite well, which I think is really helpful for getting bass/kick to sit right.

If you have an 8db peak and compensate, and then a playback room/system has an 8db dip at that frequency, you'll just lose sounds. So I think getting rid of e.g. +/-8db peaks and dips will get you a long way.

I did think the CLA NX mains were woofy, but I maybe had more electronic lows than he would be mixing. It did make me wonder/second guess though - was it woofy because my bass was too high? And the ns10s, I think they are probably good for tweaking the mid range. I haven't really used it except for a quick test, preferring Ocean Way for now. I do plan to listen to some reference tracks with the CLA (and Ocean Way) so I can try to make some unbiased judgments.

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bmanic
KVRAF
9192 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 12:31 pm

The trick is to find a solution that you can 100% trust. Doesn't really matter what the solution in the end is.


So what does this mean?

It means that when you feel something is missing/lacking/annoying in the mix (or arrangement/recording!), on the headphone mixing system you are using, you should be able to 100% confidently apply the remedy and then be 100% certain that this remedy works universally everywhere (car, studio, TV, iPhone, cinema, club etc). You should get to a point where you can just make it sound awesome, without effort, and it'll translate exactly as you imagined it everywhere else.


How do you get to this point?

You do a shit ton of work and reference _everything_ everywhere for months on end.. even years (and ask other people to comment so as to make sure you aren't fooling yourself!). It also means that you practice your skills in critical listening to be able to say what "better" actually means in terms of translation of the mix. The most common trait for beginners and inexperienced people is that they can't confidently say what is "good" and what is "bad", mixing wise.

It becomes even trickier when you realize that in the end it's all subjective. Just like with paintings.. my crappy stick figures with absolutely no amount of experience in painting/drawing may still somewhere, on some strange planet, be considered exceptionally artful and awesome. Yet the majority of people here on earth will no doubt think they suck and that I am a crappy artist.

Therein lies the seed of truth: You don't only need to reference your stuff (and also others! Commercial top mixes) everywhere and come up with what works best for your mixing solution. You need to let go of your ego and let other people's opinions and reflections confirm your experience.

The good news is that there is a universal constant and that is experience. You can get pretty damn good mixes on almost anything that is capable of showing you the most important audio spectrum. This being the frequency area we pay most notice to, so from about 100Hz to about 10kHz. The rest you can sort of eyeball with an analyzer. Got too loud single bass resonances at 40Hz? They will show up clearly on an analyzer like Voxengo SPAN. The "money" lies within the 500Hz to 5kHz range.. aka, that's where "expensive super pro" mixes differ the most to "home made" mixes. Of course the bass is also an issue for many people but that I think is down to experience.


My overall point with this post?

I caution people to fall for marketing and over hype when it comes to these various "studio in your headphones!" solutions. We hear things very differently and thus it is very much worth checking out numerous options before settling on something on a more permanent basis.

Don't try to force yourself to like something just because some authority figure said that this is the be-all/end-all solution. Also, be honest to yourself. Have you made enough cross referencing to be sure that a solution actually works or doesn't work? Do you have enough overall mixing experience to confidently say "this is better!" and "this is worse!" and can you trust that the majority of random people you ask the same question will answer accordingly?


Some food for thought. :D
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

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LeVzi
KVRAF
3682 posts since 8 Jul, 2008 from UK

Post Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:29 am

I feel the last 3 mixes I did with CLA Nx translated better than anything I did prior .

And now I've got much better headphones I'm hoping I can improve that even better.

It'll never be perfect but it will be better than it was before.

I look forward to when I can start using my HS80Ms again for another reference.
"Part Man, Part Machine, Part Bird, Part Drum - It's Robo-bongo-cuckoo-cop" - James Acaster

legendCNCD
KVRian
1180 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from Kocmoc

Post Fri Sep 03, 2021 4:46 am

"Got too loud single bass resonances at 40Hz? They will show up clearly on an analyzer like Voxengo SPAN"

Can also be easily heard on VSX's, something that wasnt there with K712Pro's without a lot of referencing.
Soft Knees - Demoscene - Live 10 - Diva - Omnisphere - Slate Digital VSX - TDR - Kush Audio - Fabfilter - PA - Valhalla - Fuse - Pulsar - NI - OekSound etc...

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bmanic
KVRAF
9192 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Post Fri Sep 03, 2021 5:43 am

Indeed. It helps a lot when you can actually hear stuff, but it is not necessary to have full range audio to still be able to create absolutely awesome mixes.

.. but yeah, it does help a lot. :D


I have to say, the bass response of the VSX headphones is absolutely phenomenal. That patent pending whatever magic design they have going on, really does seem to work. You can sort of "feel" the bass impact. Even really low signals all the way down to about 20-30Hz. It's spooky how good it's represented.
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

legendCNCD
KVRian
1180 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from Kocmoc

Post Fri Sep 03, 2021 10:55 am

bmanic wrote:
Fri Sep 03, 2021 5:43 am
I have to say, the bass response of the VSX headphones is absolutely phenomenal. That patent pending whatever magic design they have going on, really does seem to work. You can sort of "feel" the bass impact. Even really low signals all the way down to about 20-30Hz. It's spooky how good it's represented.
Yep. Its ... effin amazing. The Club is just like we used to do the audiotests in empty hall before the rave started. Thats why I previously said its not just a simple EQ curve. It has to be heard to understand. Too bad its impossible to live without VSX now :help: :phones:
Soft Knees - Demoscene - Live 10 - Diva - Omnisphere - Slate Digital VSX - TDR - Kush Audio - Fabfilter - PA - Valhalla - Fuse - Pulsar - NI - OekSound etc...

simon.a.billington
KVRAF
2143 posts since 12 Nov, 2014

Post Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:44 am

LeVzi wrote:
Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:29 am
I feel the last 3 mixes I did with CLA Nx translated better than anything I did prior .

And now I've got much better headphones I'm hoping I can improve that even better.

It'll never be perfect but it will be better than it was before.

I look forward to when I can start using my HS80Ms again for another reference.
Did you ever compare it with Waves' other NX plugins?? I'm just curious as in to what you think.

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LeVzi
KVRAF
3682 posts since 8 Jul, 2008 from UK

Post Sun Sep 05, 2021 7:39 am

simon.a.billington wrote:
Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:44 am
LeVzi wrote:
Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:29 am
I feel the last 3 mixes I did with CLA Nx translated better than anything I did prior .

And now I've got much better headphones I'm hoping I can improve that even better.

It'll never be perfect but it will be better than it was before.

I look forward to when I can start using my HS80Ms again for another reference.
Did you ever compare it with Waves' other NX plugins?? I'm just curious as in to what you think.
No I didn't , tbh I only got that cos it was CLA , I've got a lot of time for that guy
"Part Man, Part Machine, Part Bird, Part Drum - It's Robo-bongo-cuckoo-cop" - James Acaster

Synth Master Jedi
KVRist
178 posts since 21 Jun, 2013

Post Sun Sep 05, 2021 10:50 pm

Bmanic made a good post above and I agree with much of what was said.

People are fooling themselves if they think that there's any one product or room that will instantly make their mixes sound spectacular.

However, I've found out that with patience, critical listening and some experience, these sorts of tools can be very valuable if you eventually come up with a system or way that works for you personally.

I exclusively use headphones these past years and I've tested some of the virtual rooms from various companies. Some were not for me, I just didn't like the way they sounded in my ears.

I don't mix or track with any of the virtual rooms. I do use sonarworks for my headphones to correct the EQ balance, but I don't mess with any virtual rooms when I'm tracking or mixing. Others might do things completely opposite and that's fine too. Whatever is clever and whatever works for each person. There's no wrong way. What matters is the end result.

I use various virtual rooms (I have all of the Waves NX rooms) for merely checking my mixes.

I'll listen to my mix in different rooms to get a feel for what they sound like in that environment.

My mixes have improved considerably since I started using headphone correction software and using virtual rooms to check my mixes in. I no longer have to guess if my mix is too boomy or if it's too harsh, because I'll check it in a bunch of different envIronments and I'll also A/B it against various reference tracks.

Sometimes when working on music for hours on end, you can lose perspective, your ears can become fatigued, and it's great to switch things up every once in a while and switch the listening environment so you're not fooling yourself and your ears aren't fooling you.

Virtual room plugins might be a relatively new thing, but I don't see this as much different than what people were doing 30 years ago. The band or artist would always bring home CDs from a session or from a mix and play it in a bunch of different places to see how it sounds. Cars were often a very popular test and some software does include various car profiles.

But these days, the majority of people probably consume music via headphones, so it's the people mixing on speakers that are in the minority, because many of their listeners, maybe the majority will never consume the music through speakers.

simon.a.billington
KVRAF
2143 posts since 12 Nov, 2014

Post Mon Sep 06, 2021 5:03 am

LeVzi wrote:
Sun Sep 05, 2021 7:39 am
simon.a.billington wrote:
Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:44 am
LeVzi wrote:
Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:29 am
I feel the last 3 mixes I did with CLA Nx translated better than anything I did prior .

And now I've got much better headphones I'm hoping I can improve that even better.

It'll never be perfect but it will be better than it was before.

I look forward to when I can start using my HS80Ms again for another reference.
Did you ever compare it with Waves' other NX plugins?? I'm just curious as in to what you think.
No I didn't , tbh I only got that cos it was CLA , I've got a lot of time for that guy
You, and many others. He has such a huge following. While he does do impressive work I'm not as such an avid follower myself. To be honest, I don't really follow any engineer avidly. I do, however, like to learn from everyone and take the best from each of them.

Nothing wrong with being a fan, though. He certainly has manage to co develop a few cool tools with Waves. I quite like the MixHub myself, the buckets are quite well thought out.

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LeVzi
KVRAF
3682 posts since 8 Jul, 2008 from UK

Post Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:28 am

simon.a.billington wrote:
Mon Sep 06, 2021 5:03 am
LeVzi wrote:
Sun Sep 05, 2021 7:39 am
simon.a.billington wrote:
Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:44 am
LeVzi wrote:
Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:29 am
I feel the last 3 mixes I did with CLA Nx translated better than anything I did prior .

And now I've got much better headphones I'm hoping I can improve that even better.

It'll never be perfect but it will be better than it was before.

I look forward to when I can start using my HS80Ms again for another reference.
Did you ever compare it with Waves' other NX plugins?? I'm just curious as in to what you think.
No I didn't , tbh I only got that cos it was CLA , I've got a lot of time for that guy
You, and many others. He has such a huge following. While he does do impressive work I'm not as such an avid follower myself. To be honest, I don't really follow any engineer avidly. I do, however, like to learn from everyone and take the best from each of them.

Nothing wrong with being a fan, though. He certainly has manage to co develop a few cool tools with Waves. I quite like the MixHub myself, the buckets are quite well thought out.
I follow a few of them, but I like CLA's attitude to stuff.
"Part Man, Part Machine, Part Bird, Part Drum - It's Robo-bongo-cuckoo-cop" - James Acaster

chagzuki
KVRAF
2403 posts since 26 Mar, 2002 from london

Post Tue Sep 07, 2021 2:07 pm

Synth Master Jedi wrote:
Sun Sep 05, 2021 10:50 pm
I don't mix or track with any of the virtual rooms. I do use sonarworks for my headphones to correct the EQ balance, but I don't mess with any virtual rooms when I'm tracking or mixing.
What headphones are you using? Of all the headphones correction plugins I've tried, Sonarworks is the one that stands out as just sounding wrong on Sennheiser HD 600s. I assumed with their long history the opposite would be the case, but even at 50% the correction around the 2-6Khz range sounds highly artificial... which confuses me as according to the frequency graph the alterations should be subtle. I seem to be getting on better with Realphones in that department.

I'm going to do some cross referencing to see which room sim plugin does best with not screwing up the mid/side stereoism (if that's a word), as there seem to be significant discrepancies.
Every day takes figuring out all over again how to f#ckin’ live.

legendCNCD
KVRian
1180 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from Kocmoc

Post Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:23 am

Have you tried the different filter/quality settings on Sonarworks? Btw, this was the reason why I didnt go to that route, I thought the correction sounded too phasey.
Soft Knees - Demoscene - Live 10 - Diva - Omnisphere - Slate Digital VSX - TDR - Kush Audio - Fabfilter - PA - Valhalla - Fuse - Pulsar - NI - OekSound etc...

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