Mixing on Headphones with Nx: Devin Townsend

“Nx has been a lifesaver”, says musician and producer Devin Townsend about using the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin to produce and mix his latest and most ambitious album Empath.

Mixing on Headphones with Nx: Devin Townsend

 

Few music makers are as diverse as Devin Townsend. The Canadian musician and producer covers staggering ground, whether it’s musical genre—from metal brutality to meditative beauty—or an unparalleled set of skills, as a songwriter, singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger and mixer of his own music. His latest album Empath saw Devin undertake some of his most ambitious production and mixing challenges yet.

Empath was a massive undertaking, with many moving parts,” Devin says. “I’ve worked on it over a long period of time, in different locations and environments, travelling between different studios in different cities and countries. I do a lot of my own mixing myself, and for this project I needed to be able to mix while I was away from my studio. Mixing remotely on headphones with the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin—on the plane or whenever I was travelling—was an absolute lifesaver. Nx enabled me to use my headphones as a reliable reference that would translate well to speakers once I was back at the studio.”

“I started working with the Nx Virtual Mix Room almost two years ago,” Devin told us, “when I was mixing my live album with the Devin Townsend Project, Ocean Machine – Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv. It’s helped me overcome the usual problems when mixing on headphones: unreliable translation to speakers, inaccurate sound field, and even ear fatigue.”

“When the Nx plugin is bypassed after you’ve had it on for a while, you immediately notice the shock as to how much the mix space on Nx-less headphones does not provide the same accurate sound field. Also, with the ‘virtual’ space that Nx creates on headphones, not only do I get that accurate sound field—my ears can ‘breathe’ and the fatigue that I’ve usually experienced on headphones is almost entirely eliminated.”

Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin: 5.1 Surround component

The Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin

Powered by Waves Nx technology, Nx Virtual Mix Room is a virtual monitoring plugin that recreates the acoustics of a high-end studio inside any set of headphones. It delivers, on headphones, the three-dimensional depth and panoramic stereo image you would be hearing from speakers in an acoustically well-treated, well-balanced room. This way, it’s easier to make well-informed mixing decisions on headphones, in either stereo or surround. As a bonus, Nx also includes a headphone EQ calibration feature, with a selection of corrective EQ compensation curves for popular headphone models.

“I have used the Nx plugin’s EQ compensation feature with my Audio-Technica headphones,” Devin adds. “The flattening of the frequency spectrum that Nx provides gave me a very reliable and accurate representation of what the mix should sound like. My mixes have been turning out very well lately, and a lot of that I attribute to being able to hear the deficiencies in my mix by using Nx. It’s just a great mix reference in addition to everything else you’re using.”

“I’m now mixing Empath for 5.1 surround, and the Nx plugin is also great for mixing 7.1/5.1 surround on headphones, when I don’t have access to a surround speaker setup. It’s a great way to replicate a surround mixing environment on headphones, if I’m travelling or before I go to a surround studio.”

As an option, the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin can be used with a head tracking feature, which tracks your head movements in real time and ensures that when your head moves, the location of the ‘virtual speakers’ remains constant, like in a real room. This can be done either using a computer camera, or, for increased accuracy, with the Nx Head Tracker. “Using Nx with the head tracking feature is very much like not wearing headphones at all,” Devin says. “It’s easy to forget you’re even wearing phones, since the tracker responds to your physical movements and really places you ‘inside’ the experience.”

“Waves Nx has changed the way I mix on headphones in fundamental ways,” Devin sums up. “Having an accurate representation of a balanced virtual mix room over headphones has allowed me to mix with confidence in almost any scenario. It’s a game-changing piece of technology that can level the playing field when it comes to the articulation of accurate mixes.”

Learn more about Nx Virtual Mix Room.

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