Effective listening skills are vital for any music producer to be able to produce a good sounding record. It’s recommended to take advantage of a variety of monitoring levels, to avoid staying static and make sure the music sounds good at every volume level.
The following three monitoring levels have different purposes in making music. Each can be used for their own purpose, as well as doing an overall volume reference of a piece of music, using all three levels.
Loud Listening Volume
Sometimes it’s useful to stay very loud. This is especially true when making music – producing the actual track. During times like these, you simply need to feel the music, transferring your own emotions into a track.
In the initial stages of writing a track, it is almost essential to blast out the music at high volumes, to capture the most of the emotion.
Be aware though, this doesn’t mean you should be listening at very high volumes for three hours straight. Your ears won’t like it, and it’s not healthy for them in the long run.
Think of the loud listening volume as the “creative” or “songwriting” volume level.
Normal Listening Volume
Normal monitoring volumes roughly equal to the volume of regular human speech. If your friends are around, you should hear them talk while the music is playing.
A normal monitoring level is useful for everyday audio editing, audio effect plugin comparison, producing and slight mixing work.
Think of this volume level as the one you’ll be doing the most of your work at. It is the regular level to produce music at.
Quiet Listening Volume
You’ve achieved a quiet monitoring volume when you can barely hear all elements of the track. In practice, it is really quiet. You also need a quiet working environment to be able to work properly.
This kind of monitoring level is handy especially in mixing. When putting together a mix from scratch (all faders are down), it’s recommended to use a low listening volume.
The advantages of quiet monitoring levels are many, such as being able to hear every instrument’s volume in relation to others, therefore being able to place them in the mix more effectively. Also, when a track sounds good and punchy at very low volumes, you can be sure that it sounds banging when blasted out.
Usually, the low monitoring level is used only when starting the final mixing stage, with all production, arranging and songwriting already done.
Stacking the skills…
In the end, as you develop better monitoring skills, you will find yourself using them in every situation that needs them. A good practice is to change your monitoring level every once in a while, especially during long sessions to keep your ears fresh and not fool them by one static monitoring level.
I hope this article helps you in finding those correct volumes to monitor at. While monitoring levels vary from person to person, it’s good to have at least three different levels to yourself – low, normal and high.
If you have any questions about monitoring, please leave them below.