Mixing Room vs. Recording Studio: Differences Explained

The mixing room and recording studio have several differences. Both rooms have unique features that make them suitable for recording and mixing. Otherwise, artists and mixing engineers will not perform as well as expected. 

The primary difference between mixing rooms and recording studios is their ability to block unnecessary sounds, frequencies, and dynamic ranges. Unlike recording studios, mixing rooms need to be altered so that impurities, such as echos and background noises, are isolated and removed in recordings. 

Recording and mixing rooms are specially prepared to support the artists’ vocals and to ensure the track is free of imperfections when it is released. This article will show the differences and why so much effort goes into making these rooms perfect. 

Mixing Room vs Recording Studio

Differences Between a Recording Studio and Mixing Room 

A Complete Recording Studio Equipme...
A Complete Recording Studio Equipment List (Case Study)

Music recorded in a recording studio is different from that produced in any other room. The unique features of the recording and mixing rooms are the reason for the high quality sounds. 

Reflection Points

Sound and vibration reflections are a concern in recording rooms and mixing rooms. However, since the mixing room is used to analyze unwanted sounds that infiltrate the recordings, mixing engineers prefer working without interference from external sounds. 

To keep this from happening, mixing rooms have fixed reflection points. The most important areas in the mixing room are the position of the monitor, speakers, and the listener. Acoustic treatments focus on this reflection point. 

Check out this YouTube video to learn more about reflection points:

The distance between the mixing engineer and the speakers will influence the clarity of the recording. So, a mixing engineer is likely to create the perfect mix if other sounds and frequencies do not distort the recording. 

Acoustic treatments in recording rooms tend to focus on the entire room. The floor, walls, and ceiling affect the sound quality. If this room is not treated to reduce reflections, the mixer will have a harder time identifying the interruptions in the recording. 

Additionally, if the recording room had no acoustic treatments, the recording may not be satisfactory. The artist and sound engineers will spend a lot of time improving sound quality when the problem is not the artist but the room. 

It is important to mention that the vocal booth is a fixed reflection point. Unfortunately, not all recording studios have a sound booth to create a fixed reflection point. 

Room Size and Design

The design concept of a recording room is different from that of a mixing room. When designing a mixing room, stereo balance is critical. This is best achieved by making the room smaller. This will reduce sound distortions. 

It is also easier to create a fixed reflection point when working with a small room. 

A room with the same measurements, a perfect square, is unsuitable for mixing rooms. Sounds and vibrations easily bounce when they can move in a straight line, back and forth. You can create angles to break the movement by placing furniture in strategic areas. 

When using one room as a recording and mixing studio, a mixer is isolated in a smaller space that is acoustically treated to control sound reflections. A small mixing room condenses the sound and reduces echos. 

Space is not a big issue in recording studios. The studio can be as big as you want. However, the walls, floor, and ceiling require acoustic treatments. 

Sound Source

The recording room and mixing room have different sources of sound. 

In the recording room, the sound can come from multiple directions and different sources. For example, the sounds may be from: 

  • Acoustic guitars 
  • Drums 
  • Horns 
  • Microphones 
  • Studio monitors 

This is why sound reflection and distortion are usually present in recordings. The pressure points are diverse, so the entire room needs to be treated to control sound effects. 

The source of sound in a mixing room primarily comes from the speakers. The mixing engineer focuses on sounds from the track while a recording engineer analyzes sounds from multiple directions. 

Qualities of a Good Home Recording Studio

The quality of recording equipment is as good as the quality of the recording room. When you invest in expensive recording equipment, you will only get value for money when you have a great recording room. 

When choosing a room for your home studio, you should:

  • Pick the largest room. The rule of the thumb when it comes to recording studios is bigger is always better. Your collection of recording instruments is likely to keep growing, and having the space will encourage you to keep investing. 
  • Go for the room away from noises. When using a microphone, the sound of cars, birds, crickets, wind, and rain are amplified. You can be sure that all these noises will be captured in your recording, especially if the room is not acoustically treated. 
  • Avoid carpeted floors. Although carpets muffle foot sounds, they are notorious for absorbing high frequencies. The ideal flooring is tile, cement, and hardwood. 
  • Opt for a room with natural acoustic benefits. High ceilings, irregular surfaces, and asymmetrical walls will reduce the acoustic treatments you will undertake for your home studio. 
  • Choose appropriate acoustic treatments. Not all recording studios are insulated the same way. The room design, location, and size will influence how you handle the acoustic treatment. 

If you want more details on acoustic treatments, check out this YouTube video:

Importance of a Mixing Room

Unfortunately, the mixing room is sometimes seen as an afterthought, especially in home studios. Some artists invest in some of the best mics and software plugins but overlook the importance of the mixing room or mixing engineer. 

Commercial recording studios consider the mixing room superior to the recording studio for various reasons:

  • The acoustic treatment in the mixing room isolates sound waves according to frequency, wavelength, speed, shape, and harmony. The specificity of the mixing process is critical and is best achieved in a perfect space. 
  • Mixing is an art and a science. The acoustic design of mixing rooms attempts to balance the art and science of mixing. Creating the right ambiance is critical in the music production process. 
  • The audio mix takes place in the mixing room. The mixing engineer will analyze multi-track recordings, identify the best audio, and then conscience it. This is a vital phase, and as the middle man between the recording and mastering phase, the mixer perfects the recording that is usually slightly tweaked in the mastering process. 

Tips on How To Control Sounds In a Mixing Room

The mixing room is likely one of the most critical rooms after the recording studio. The mixer has to be in an environment where you can make alterations to the track. You can take several steps to make this room suitable.

Improve the Listening Environment

The mixing room will determine how easy or difficult it is to identify issues with the recording. Sometimes, it is a subtle echo. Other times, the problem might be with the sound. 

Sound equalization and compression are only possible if you can identify sections in the recording that require changes to improve its quality. 

You can improve the listening environment in various ways. One way is to adjust the studio monitorsYou can do this by setting a fixed volume to allow your ears to adjust to the sound level. You can easily identify unique sounds when your ears are trained to look out for them. 

Identify Early Reflection Points

It is natural for sound to bounce off different surfaces in the mixing room to create a vibration or echo. The best way to isolate the reflection points is to find the most obvious points first. These tend to be the major problem areas. Once you solve them, you will have an easier time improving the recording. 

Place Absorbers in the Corners To Control Sound Effects

Mixing rooms do not need the high level of acoustic treatment that recording rooms require. Thick trappings in the corners of the mixing room will help reduce low-end sound response. However, for the absorbers to be effective, they need to cover the entire corner, from the bottom to the top. 

By doing this, you are creating a bubble where sound has nowhere to escape. You will then have an easier time identifying sounds and making necessary alterations to the recording without worrying about external influences. 

Choose the Ideal Furniture

Although the furniture you choose for your mixing room will determine your comfort level and the aesthetic appeal of the mixing room, it can also control sound reflections. In their way, furniture can also act as a barrier to sound bouncing off surfaces. So, you can strategically place your furniture in problem areas as part of the acoustic treatment. 

For more information, check out some of my other articles:

Can You Record Music in an Untreated Room?

Many upcoming artists record their music in their bedrooms or garage, and they still release great tracks. Some of these recordings have landed them great deals with professional music producers. 

You can record music in an untreated room, but you should opt for a smaller room over a large one. Place a duvet on a T-shaped mic stand between you and the back wall. Avoid working in a tiled room since sounds bounce off easily from one wall to another. 

While a treated room makes recording easier, it is still possible to produce music in an untreated room. You only have to take steps to reduce sound and vibration interference. A larger room will introduce echoes to your music, while tiles have a greater surface sound impact.

The Difference Between Professional and Home Recording Studios

Many upcoming artists have found ways to turn their homes into recording studios. Even artists who work with record labels have home studios. There are several differences between home and professional studios

  • Commercial recording studios are soundproofed. The acoustic treatment in these studios is top-notch. There is no room for error. While home studios need some treatment to improve the quality of the recordings, the pressure to create a near-perfect environment is not the same as that of a commercial recording studio. 
  • Commercial studios are larger than home studios. Besides the larger number of recording equipment, commercial studios also have more people working in it. So, they have to be large. The sounds also come from different areas of the room, so a larger space is ideal. 
  • The home studio setup is basic, while that of a commercial studio is elaborate. The live room in a commercial studio has microphones, mic stands, mixing consoles, a control room, a voice booth, effects units, and so much more. The different rooms in the studio also have unique layouts. Home studios usually do not have equipment and space on the scale of commercial studios. 
  • Commercial studios have multiple people performing different roles at the same time. There are songwriters, musicians, recording engineers, mixing engineers, and mastering engineers. If you are recording in the home studio, you may have to play all these roles. Unfortunately, this takes time and causes the release of a recording to take longer than a track at a commercial recording studio. 

Why Home Recording Studios Are Popular

Over the past couple of years, home recording studios have become quite popular. Artists even have easy access to information on how to give home studios a perfect acoustic treatment. This has improved the quality of tracks. 

There are several reasons behind the large number of artists recording in their home studios: 

  • Artists no longer need to seek commercial studios because they can now produce high-quality audio from the comfort of their home studios. 
  • Digital technology has advanced and is readily available. 
  • Recording equipment is available in different sizes. Recording artists can choose one that fits their space and budget. 
  • The availability of affordable powerful computers and digital mixers. 
  • Home recording equipment is almost as sophisticated as those in commercial studios.
  • The cost of recording music in home studios is significantly lower than using a commercial studio. 
  • Artists can record a track in their home studio when they get the urge. 
  • Easy-to-use modern music software like Ableton Live, Cakewalk Sonar, Steinberg Cubase, or even the EZALINK Music Software Bundle (on Amazon.com) are readily available. I specifically like the EZALINK Music Software Bundle because it doesn’t require a subscription fee and comes with thorough training videos to help improve recording and mixing techniques. 
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Last update on 2022-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out my article about whether you can produce music on a Chromebook.

Conclusion

The recording and mixing rooms have unique functions. Ideally, recording and mixing should be done in separate rooms acoustically treated for the specific functions. However, when this is impossible, it is best to prepare the room to create a space that balances music production and sound quality. 

Sources

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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