2. Watch Those Levels
Don't monitor too loud for too long during the
So, just how loud is too loud when you produce music?
Well, this can quickly devolve into a long technical debate about SPL levels, distance from speakers and size of the room. Let's not go there! ;-)
Instead, just be on the safe side and do most of your mixing at a normal conversation level or lower.
Doing most of your work at lower levels has the advantage of saving your ears in the short and long term. This means you can work for longer stretches before ear fatigue sneaks in to destroy your judgements. It also means you'll be less likely to cause more permanent damage to your hearing in the long run.
Obviously you'll want to check at louder levels during the mixing process, especially when you're making frequency decisions. Try to keep this type of loud monitoring to a minimum and don't continue to work at that level.
A good strategy is to monitor most of the time at just below conversation level, some of the time at really low levels to make sure the balance holds and every now and then at higher levels to make sure it's still acceptable.
Working at really loud or really low levels the whole time will lead to bad decisions because of the equal-loudness curves. Work too loud and you'll think things are great because of the perceived hype in bass and highs when in fact it's the loudness fooling you. Work too low and you may be overdoing it on the highs and lows because the mids are accentuated and you're over-compensating.
Now, if you still want to whip out a SPL meter, get fizzy with some pink noise and properly calibrate your system to make sure you monitor at an optimum level most of the time, then be sure to check out this great step-by-step of the calibration process over at Sound-on-Sound.