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acewhistle

PC audio interface for mixing

Question

Hi,

I just like to ask if I purchase an audio interface to use for mixing, like a Behringer UMC22,  will that help me hear the "real mix" before I export it as an audio file?

I've noticed that my mix doesn't translate well by the time I mastered it and I end up making some adjustments again which is I find it time consuming now, after learning how to mix after 8 months, so still a noob.

I know most of you will say that I be better off with a studio monitor, but sadly I don't have that luxury as I work during the days, and evenings are only my free time to work on my craft. I'm sure you can understand that blasting those speakers late in the evening will me end up in a naughty corner with my family. So only option for me is to use headphones and that is connected to my normal PC sound card.

Not aiming to be a professional mixer but at least hoping I can make my mix not sound bit amateurish.

Many thanks for your replies and suggestions.

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There's a lot more to mixing than just hardware.

You need a real audio interface for sure, but one with a proper ASIO driver. The UMC22 ain't that.

2 hours ago, acewhistle said:

I know most of you will say that I be better off with a studio monitor

Yes. And room treatment is even more important. Especially bass traps.

2 hours ago, acewhistle said:

I'm sure you can understand that blasting those speakers late in the evening will me end up in a naughty corner with my family.

Actually, I don't understand. First of all, you shouldn't be "blasting" your speakers. Secondly, your family should be supportive and encouraging of your hobby. If they aren't, I am truly sad for you

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4 minutes ago, bdickens said:

There's a lot more to mixing than just hardware.

You need a real audio interface for sure, but one with a proper ASIO driver. The UMC22 ain't that.

Yes. And room treatment is even more important. Especially bass traps.

Actually, I don't understand. First of all, you shouldn't be "blasting" your speakers. Secondly, your family should be supportive and encouraging of your hobby. If they aren't, I am truly sad for you

Many thanks for the suggestions mate.

Just exaggerating on the last part but it is also respecting their "quiet time" as well :)

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In your situation it might be equally important to find a reference quality headphone set that you can get used to. 

It's important take care of our ears when using headphones, there are sad stories about hearing going down hill fast without the user noticing it. 

I think I read advice that recommend doing the mixing at moderate to low levels, as this makes it easier to notice imbalances in the mix. Loud mixing is more to test that the mix also works at that level, and should be of short duration. When played loud, most things sounds good ... and that level can mask out imbalances in the mix. A good mix should also sound good at low levels. 

Maybe the trick is to familiarize yourself with your headphones,  know how your reference tracks sounds in them and mix accordingly.  Maybe have different headsets, to check that the mix translates well between different ones. 

For that blast testing, you could get yourself a portable blue tooth speaker and head out in the park for some blast testing :) Good with some fresh air as well.

Edit : And about your original question, I don't think the Behringer interface will make much difference sound wise. There really shouldn't be that huge difference to your on-board card. If there is, you should check the  settings of your internal sound, and make sure any 'sound improvement' features are disable ... so that what you get to your headphones is the naked deal coming out of your DAW.

Edited by iRelevant

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I do a lot of editing and mixing on my office computer which is in a spare bedroom right of the main living area. I have a nice small set of Mackie CR4 powered monitors and I’m certainly not bothering my family even with the door open. I shut the door and I’m making less noise than the fridge. I put the headphones on for loud. 
It’s an age old engineering trick to turn down as low as possible and see what you are still hearing. 
Good monitoring both speakers and phones are paramount to mixing. Room treatment is also critical but is not as important at lower levels. 
You can also use your eyes to analyze a mix. I use Span, You lean loudness meter and the pro channels fly out of the Quadcurve EQ. You can “see” which frequencies are miss behaving 

Drop a reference track into a project and solo it. Compare what it “looks” like to your music. 
 

But regardless a audio interface is a good investment for audio playback as it  will give you the proper connectivity for your audio devices. And level control of headphones and speakers if you get some.

Edited by John Vere
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I also use the tools @John Vere talks about here. Their my most important ones in the final mixing and mastering stage of any track. Particularly the Span tool is important for the mix balance. I've learned that for a track to sound good it should have a 'fairly' linear frequency response fall of rate from low to high. Making sure there is no major peaks or holes in the response.

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There are multiple places along the way that can result in a mix sounding different in its final rendered state, and it's best to get a handle on exactly where things are going wrong.

Depending on genre, you can go a long way without needing to get an external interface, as long as you run your onboard one in WASAPI mode.

When you decide you want to record an audio source is when you need to look for an interface 😁. There are whole genres these days where no microphone is used anywhere in the production.

To me, the most important purchase you can make as far as being able to hear your mixes is a decent set of headphones. Since it seems like you won't get as much use out of speakers just yet. Read articles and if possible audition some owned by friends or at a store. I have a set of ATH-M50's, which are very popular and don't cost much over $100. Samson SR850's go for under $50 and are about the minimum I'd personally consider. They sound amazingly good for the price.

If you have a good set of cans and you're not happy with how your output sounds, you're better able ask questions online knowing that at least your listening system is up to the task.

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