Ever notice how things sound different in a gymnasium than in a closet? - Or in a basement, bathroom or auditorium? Likewise, there are big differences between listening to something on ear-buds, a car stereo, television, or in a movie theater.
Every physical space and every speaker affects the way things sound. A good mix will sound consistently good in any environment and on any listening device.
Achieving a good balanced mix is no easy task. It’s natural for an audio engineer to adjust things to make them sound as good as possible. But, if they’re making adjustments to compensate for shortcomings in the room they’re working in or the speakers they’re mixing on - they could actually be doing more harm than good.
For example - when working in a room that sounds bass heavy the mixer might eliminate some of the low frequencies; when played back in another room this mix could sound thin. Conversely, if a track is mixed on speakers with poor bass response the mixer might try to compensate by pushing the low frequencies - creating a bass heavy mix.
As with most things, computers have radically changed audio recording. Good quality recording gear is now more affordable, and home studios - setup in a garage, basement or spare bedroom - have become common among musicians. While this has been great for recording enthusiasts it doesn’t automatically put them on a level with a professional studio.
Professional studios go to great lengths when designing a recording or mix space. They carefully consider room dimensions and use of acoustic treatments as well as choice of speakers and their placement and then calibrate their space and equipment in order to achieve as transparent and accurate a representation of the sound as possible. Without this - there’s a good chance that mixes will sound unbalanced and won’t translate well to other spaces or systems.
While a solid performance and good song are important – it’s equally important to capture that with a good recording and mix. This insures that the end listener is focused on what’s most important – the music. A good recording can take a song to another level; a bad one can ruin it.