Mastering The Mix released MIXROOM (£49), an intelligent EQ plugin for mixing and mastering. Learn more about the plugin in our MIXROOM review.
I’m a fan of audio plugins that encourage you to work differently. Not just plugins that do things differently for the sake of standing out in the crowd, but for being a product that genuinely has something different to offer.
MIXROOM by Mastering The Mix is precisely that type of product.
Now, I do admit that I tend to shy away from plugins with flashy GUIs. The same goes for tools that claim to enhance your entire mix with a couple of clicks. They just don’t appeal to me.
However, after some time using MIXROOM, it has wildly exceeded my expectations. The plugin is exceptional both in the GUI design department and in terms of what it contributes to your mix.
At its heart, MIXROOM is an equalizer, and software EQs are a dime-a-dozen nowadays. That said, the genius behind MIXROOM isn’t the work it does but how it does it.
MIXROOM is set up to look like a literal room, and within the “room,” you create frequency bands. Rather than a traditional EQ where you boost and cut frequencies, MIXROOM wants you to think of it as moving the frequencies forward or backward within the “room.”
Mastering The Mix has done an excellent job with the visual representation of this virtual space. The high frequencies are located at the top, and the lower frequencies are at the bottom of the room. All of the frequency bands have adjustable gain, Q, and can be used in mid, side, or stereo mode.
Initially, navigating and manipulating the plugin felt cumbersome due to the unorthodox user interface. However, this feeling went away after spending some time with the product.
Mixing With MIXROOM
MIXROOM works on individual tracks and the master fader. That said, I personally did not find much use in putting it on individual instruments.
There are plenty of presets to get you started whichever way you wish to use the plugin. There are preset categories for every significant type of instrument you might want to use MIXROOM, with the usual suspects like guitar, synth, bass, and piano.
Drums and vocals are the most heavily provided for in terms of presets as those are usually the focus of most mixing tasks.
MIXROOM calls itself an intelligent EQ, and it’s undoubtedly right. There is a “Targeting” feature where the plugin will listen to the audio being passed through it and automatically suggest frequency adjustments based on the source material and the selected preset. This allows you to see where your mix might need adjustment so you can fix accordingly.
Alternatively, there is an “add Smart Bands” button that will make these changes for you. I used this on a couple of sessions that I thought sounded decent. However, my response after applying MIXROOM was, “Did my mix always sound like that??”
A single plugin on my master fader improved the whole mix’s clarity with almost no work on my end! Just hearing it on a couple of sessions makes me want to go back and add it to all my old mixes.
Now, this is where I must splash some cold water on the excitement. While MIXROOM is technically an intelligent EQ, it misses some traditionally found features in “smart” plugins.
Firstly, it does not communicate between plugin instances across your session. This means that MIXROOM is making adjustments independent of other instruments in your mix.
I also found that MIXROOM, in most situations, dramatically boosted the processed frequencies, making them much louder. As you know, your ear naturally finds louder things more appealing, which is terrible news while mixing.
While it is entirely likely that my mixes are dull, I wish it didn’t seem like MIXROOM was applying the “louder is better” band-aid to my instruments and mixes.
I must explain that I am not saying I don’t like what MIXROOM did to my music because it made my mix sound better. However, at times I wish the Targeting and Smart Bands didn’t seem so heavy-handed.
Lucky for me, Mastering The Mix has a way to counter this with Gain Scaling, which can either accentuate or attenuate the plugin’s effect.
I find minor things frustrating about MIXROOM. These are mostly workflow caveats like not having dedicated high-pass and low-pass filter knobs, the lack of a traditional mix knob, and the fact that the EQ only goes down to 320 Hz (probably only because they have a separate plugin named BASSROOM).
These gripes come from wanting to see a great product become even better and not from a place of malice. I suspect not everyone will feel the same way about my issues because they certainly didn’t break the experience or falter the promise of the product.
More importantly, I recommend MIXROOM for engineers and producers who feel like their mix bus might be missing something.
The experienced user can use MIXROOM as a sort of “final polish” on sessions. In contrast, the average user could apply this plugin as a foundation setter for their mixes.
MIXROOM is an exciting tool that I think most users can employ to improve their mixes drastically. Even though you may have your favorite plugins or a way you like to mix, this product will almost certainly inject something fresh into your mixing sessions.
More info: MIXROOM (£49)
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MIXROOM is an exciting tool that most users can employ to improve their mixes drastically.