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Finally, let's just take a minute to talk a little bit about different listening levels. What's so great about near-field monitors is that you can listen to your work at a fairly reasonable level without it being so loud that it's damaging or so quiet that you have to strain to hear it, and that's what a reasonable level is. I can't give you a magic volume to set everything to. You have to find the one that feels comfortable or you feel like you're hearing everything you want to hear. If you listen to stuff that's too loud for too long, your ears actually get tired, and then they aren't sensitive, it's called hearing fatigue. Your ears actually they get tired more or less, and they don't hear as accurately.
Your speakers can go on forever, but your body actually gets tired and starts to change the way it responds. So, try to find what feels like a reasonable level and a level that you can work at. Now, good speakers actually reduce listening fatigue quite a bit. They make it easier to listen for longer, because they're designed to actually help you listen longer. A few things you can do in terms of listening levels when you're mixing, just turn it up or down to kind of get a sense of some of the different frequencies. Generally, if you're doing a mix with vocals, if you want to turn them down so it's pretty quiet, you want to make sure that that vocal balance is there.
If you turn it down and the vocals are still there, you can still hear them at a very low level, that means that they are at a pretty good level. The opposite is true kind of for the bass. At a low-level, a lot of that low ends is going to go away, and that's okay. You want to check the bass when you really crank it up a little bit and see if you really feel it booming and thumping. Now, these are just kind of temporary tests where you do a little check here, then go back to your reasonable level and make some changes, then go back and adjust these levels again to see what the balance feels like, and see if there's a difference in what you've done, and see if the levels are more appropriate.
Ultimately, better speakers and good headphones will really benefit your mixes and the overall quality of the sound you're producing, and they'll also be good to your ears.
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