When we announced MixChecker and then have reviewed it as well, some people have been unsure about whether MixChecker from Audified is a good idea, or if it even works. When we talked to the team at Audified we found they were getting similar questions too and so we thought it would be best to try and answer these questions and also give you an insight into how this plug-in was developed along the way.
PTE: Where does the idea for MixChecker come from?
Jakub (Marketing Director): Our team developed the technology for MixChecker quite a long time ago for use on some of our other products. The idea for MixChecker itself comes from our experience in previous jobs. For example, I used to work in TV Promotion business and we ere often finding that our TV trailers sounded great in the studio but listening from a TV set they weren't so good. Our solution was to use a TV set as a reference monitor but it was a hassle and we really wanted to find a quicker way to get to better sound.
When we discussed the topic within the Audified team we realised that other people had similar problems. They mix not only for TV, but for radio stations, computer games, mobile OS games etc. So we thought let's make something, that would make life easier. Just test and go. No setting up, no exporting, no wiring. And the MixChecker was here.
PTE: Is MixChecker accurate?
Lubor (CEO): Mixchecker does not simulate every device on consumer market precisely, that just wouldn't be possible or practical. Our aim with this tool is not to create a real model of particular device as such. MixChecker should be considered a guide that shows you the weaknesses of your mix when listening through various types of devices. For example: if you are mixing an advertisement that will mostly be viewed on smartphones – you cannot determine what particular type of phone will be the most used one. But all smartphones have some similar sound parameters and so we designed MixChecker to give you some realistic picture.
We use the same underlying technology with our guitar speaker simulator products like ampLion Pro and GK Amplification 2, in which you may change the mic position using three parameters, but this is exactly what we wanted to avoid when creating MixChecker. We wanted to create just one typical characteristics of each device by combining the measurements, and it was not easy.
PTE: Because it uses typical characteristics, is it professional?
Lubor: Absolutely. We have used the best possible conditions for measurements and a professional system which costs thousand times more than the best audio interfaces. We then processed the results using complex techniques, even writing an application, to analyse and process the characteristics from all the measured results.
Even though MixChecker is based on a convolution engine, there is a lot of other work that has gone into the final product.
Vlada (Lead Programmer for MixChecker): We used professional software with DSP toolboxes. Each device was measured in echo-free chamber from several distances with different microphone positions. We made well over 300 measurements instances to create the MixChecker models. Then we discussed the measurements with audio professionals and professional musicians at The Academy of Performing Arts, so we were able to collate a lot of great feedback, to help us refine the measurements.
PTE: One of the comments we have heard is people saying that they have never had such terrible sound from my earbuds so why do I need MixChecker.
Jakub: in our experience, MixChecker users are more than likely to choose their headphones very carefully. The sound of the earbuds in MixChecker is really weak – but it is a deliberate choice to try and get a realistic picture of what the average people would hear often using the earbuds that come bundled with their smartphones etc. We deliberately did not include any kind of hi-end audiophile earbuds because that wouldn't reflect what the average user is likely to have.
Vlada: We used a special artificial measuring head to capture the image of the headphones which we believe is currently the best way to do this. Also, have you ever thought about how much the sound of your headphones depends on the position and the way you wear them? We thought that was just as important to take into consideration, so the models of the headphones and earbuds are the result of several measurements from both different positions and different models. The biggest influence can be seen in the low frequencies as you may see in the the image below, which illustrates the measurements of on-ear headphones, with five measurements being averaged in this case. After that, the measurement system characteristics are compensated for so we end up with the final result without the influence of the system, including the “ear characteristics” for extra-aural headphones.
PTE: We are also seeing users ask if MixChecker is for me?
Jakub: We believe that everybody should be aware of the problem and everybody should be checkin that their mixes translate to other types of playback systems somehow, someway. You don't have to use MixChecker of course. You can choose to export your mixes and do round checks on several devices, noting your thoughts and feelings and then making corrections to your mixes and going round the loop again. But this can cost a lot of time and time in professional studios means money. In some scenarios, like broadcasting, you don't even have the chance to do this. So for us the answer depends on how much you value your time. We believe that MixChecker can save a few hours on a project. That can add up to few days a month or weeks a year.
PTE: Is MixChecker going to gain any new features in future?
Lubor: MixChecker is a living product, so yes there will be evolution, but we would like to keep it as simple as as possible as well. That said, we have already gathered some thoughts for the first update, and we are open to any more suggestions, even if they don't concern the MixChecker – we will be happy to hear from you in the comments below.
PTE: Thank you Jakub, Viada and Lubor for taking the time so give us a behind the scenes look at how you developed MixChecker.