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Topic: Does anybody use the K-System?

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  1. #1

    Does anybody use the K-System?

    I got another reason to pick up my copy of Mastering Audio by Bob Katz and started thinking about the K-System. In case you don't know what I'm talking about the K-System is a solution for monitoring and metering audio that is supposed to help us make sound that isn't too squashed and is easily transferrable from listening environment to another.

    I've seen some plugins take advantage of it but I haven't seen much discussion. This thread mentions it and it also includes Bruce's thoughts about it but the thread is dated to 2003 and I was wondering whether any of you have implemented it in your studio.

  2. #2

    Re: Does anybody use the K-System?

    I use Elemental Audio's InspectorXL in all of my mixing. Their multimeter is great, as it also gives a spectrographic view as well as stereo correlation - aside from several metering selections, including K-20, K-14 and K-12. For all of my film mixes I of course use K-20, and CDs are either 14 or 12 depending on how "railed" it's supposed to be.

    The real key is to have your room monitoring properly calibrated, in a room that's fairly responsive without too many problems with standing waves and slap-back/first reflection. Then, and only then does the K-system really help you - and your mixes really count in the "transferrable" department.
    Houston Haynes - Titan Line Music

  3. #3

    Re: Does anybody use the K-System?

    I also have the InspectorXL and it's one of the plugins which I was referring to in my first post. I've read the explanation in Mastering Audio so I know that you have to calibrate your listening environment. So you have done it? Do you feel that it works better for you than the "peak to -0.2 dB and RMS around -n dB" approach with inconsistent monitoring levels? Do you work in other studios than your own and do you feel that there is / would be an advantage if those studios would use the K-System?

  4. #4

    Re: Does anybody use the K-System?

    As usual - the answer is 'that depends'. If their room is also calibrated properly, and they are mixing/monitoring to the same meter scaling, then it matches up really well. The whole point is that it has to be baselined on a consistent reference.

    I will often take a backpack loaded with sound measurement goodies when I go to someone else's studio. My typical gig-bag includes a Behringer ECM8000 mic, a stand and cable, Radio Shack analog SPL meter, a tripod for said meter, an audio CD with a range of test tones on it, a CD-ROM with RTA plug-ins for Mac or PC, and a handfull of earplugs for everyone to wear while the calibration is going on (any observers get to keep what they wear).

    They're almost always shocked to see the results in the RTA, and that most of the adjustment comes from setting the monitoring volume to the proper level (and that the monitor control on their console is more often than not out of calibration), changing the position of their speaker monitors, and making adjustments to the room to try and control reflection artifacts. Once it's done, we mark the monitor levels on the console and the speaker positions in the control room - and set for K-20, 14, and 12, calibrated to 0 dB reference SMPTE RP 200. As shocked as they were to see the results in the RTA and SPL meter - they're doubly shocked by the improvement in the quality and tranferrability of the mixes that come out of their studios afterward.
    Houston Haynes - Titan Line Music

  5. #5

    Re: Does anybody use the K-System?

    Quote Originally Posted by janila
    I got another reason to pick up my copy of Mastering Audio by Bob Katz and started thinking about the K-System. In case you don't know what I'm talking about the K-System is a solution for monitoring and metering audio that is supposed to help us make sound that isn't too squashed and is easily transferrable from listening environment to another.

    I've seen some plugins take advantage of it but I haven't seen much discussion. This thread mentions it and it also includes Bruce's thoughts about it but the thread is dated to 2003 and I was wondering whether any of you have implemented it in your studio.

    Hi Janila,

    Spectrafoo (written for Apple Macs) is a great tool and utilises the K-metering system. I use it for callibrating recordings on location but I've found it to be useful to on the master fader during a mix-down. The section for callibrating studio monitors in Mastering Audio is the best advice I've ever read.
    The K-System is proposed as a means to regulate the practices of sound engineers as much as to offer individual solutions.

    If you are concerned about your sound getting squashed, the best advice is always to use your ears and TURN IT DOWN! Spectrafoo gives a lot of eye-candy, but if you just keep you channels at roughly neg 7 dfs during mixing you'll hear the sound open up.
    Have fun!

    Hywyn

  6. #6

    Exclamation Re: Does anybody use the K-System?

    Quote Originally Posted by hywyn
    If you are concerned about your sound getting squashed, the best advice is always to use your ears and TURN IT DOWN! Spectrafoo gives a lot of eye-candy, but if you just keep you channels at roughly neg 7 dfs during mixing you'll hear the sound open up.
    Have fun!
    That's not the worst advice I've ever heard, but I'd disagree with the "TURN IT DOWN" in all cases. You really need to have your monitoring levels calibrated. In most cases, folks need to *IN*crease their average monitoring levels in order to besure that what they're hearing is not influenced by the Fletcher-Munson curve. In some cases (guys that have mixed a lot of rock and roll) they most definitely need to turn it down - but I've found that to be the minority of cases that I've encountered in mockup studios. More than turning it down - I tell people to pace themselves and pay attention to ear fatigue. You can have a perfect room and can still make crappy mix decisions if your ears are worn out.

    But the last bit we definitely agree on 100% of the time - Have fun!
    Houston Haynes - Titan Line Music

  7. #7

    Re: Does anybody use the K-System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Houston Haynes
    That's not the worst advice I've ever heard, but I'd disagree with the "TURN IT DOWN" in all cases. You really need to have your monitoring levels calibrated. In most cases, folks need to *IN*crease their average monitoring levels in order to besure that what they're hearing is not influenced by the Fletcher-Munson curve. In some cases (guys that have mixed a lot of rock and roll) they most definitely need to turn it down - but I've found that to be the minority of cases that I've encountered in mockup studios. More than turning it down - I tell people to pace themselves and pay attention to ear fatigue. You can have a perfect room and can still make crappy mix decisions if your ears are worn out.

    But the last bit we definitely agree on 100% of the time - Have fun!
    I think there are two contributing factors to why Janilas mixes end up squashed. One may be inconsistent and badly set up monitors (which can be corrected by following Bob Katzs instructions to the letter). Another may be digital overs which is what I meant when I wrote "turn it down". Given that no one works with 16bit audio these days there is ample headroom to allow peaking at neg 6 dbfs without sacrificing dynamic range or signal to noise.
    It's known that DAW level indicators are inadequate and misleading. Spiking digital overs are missed and when this occurs in a multi-channel environment the only sensible thing to do is to turn it down. I know that my mixes have benefited from doing so.
    Of course driving an analogue circuit may produced a desired effect, but digital distortion is one big no-no.
    So I'd watch out for mix fatigue as well as your ear fatigue!
    Best,
    Hywyn

  8. #8

    Re: Does anybody use the K-System?

    Hi Janila, I just re-read your post and you never said your mixes are squashed but are looking for a system to avoid that scenario (just so you know I eventually understood)!
    FWIW I think K-System is a great place to start from.
    Good luck.

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