Financial Question Regarding Mixing In General And Workflow

So I’m at a bit of a tough decision here, especially considering my lack of money (I’m only 17, still in HS, and have been producing for about 4 years, most of my money in the next few years will probably be spent on tuition and rent) I don’t consider myself a newbie by any stretch of the imagination, you could say I’m amateur at mixing but I understand how to properly use compression, reverb, subtractive EQ and how to manipulate the stereo field to provide a sense of width and depth to the point where I could mix a punchy track in a good room.

Since I don’t have access to a decent studio, I’m forced to mix in a cramped, untreated, shared computer/office space with nothing but a pair of KRK Rokit5 monitors, and this results in a VERY colored sound that is utterly useless for mix translation. I figure I have two options - either spend copious amounts of money (which I don’t have at the moment) to get this horrid room treated (again, it’s shared, and I probably won’t live in it for much more than 2-3 years max so it’s essentially not an option) or to simply send out my stems to be mixed by an engineer. What I’m wondering is, in the short term, which option would be cheaper? I probably won’t have more than an EP’s worth of songs, an album at maximum produced before I move out and hopefully have access to a decent studio at university. I’m not sure what the going rates for mixing stems would be but I’m beginning to think it’s the only way to keep my workflow up and away from endlessly tweaking EQ settings on sounds which aren’t being represented properly.

This is something that’s been doing my head in for the past while. I’ll get my mix sounding punchy and perfect on my rokit 5s only to have it sounding muddy and indistinct on home stereo speakers. I can eventually get the track to the point where I’m happy with it (not without copious amounts of A/Bing, listening on as many sources as I can, taking notes on what exactly is wrong at each source, making compromises based on these notes and not what I’m hearing etc. etc.) but by that time I’ve overlistened to it to the degree where I don’t even know how I feel about it as a piece of art anymore. I’m sure some of you have had to deal with this problem at some point, how would you (or did you) personally going about fixing it?

My tip for you would be to get a pair of decent headphones (I like Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro), it will be something that over time gives you a reference of the mix.

As for your mixes sounding muddy in other setups, it could be a number of things. Your working environment might reflect so that you get a louder sense of high frequencies than is really in the music. Monitors are also made for being able to hear the mix clearly and unbiased, where hifi-speakers might have other goals, so this could also be why you don’t perceive your mixes the same. Also, it just takes time to find your way to the “spot” where your mixes starts to sound fine on most setups and where you “know” when you kind of “got it”.

Treating a room acoustically is a chapter on its own and I haven’t done much of it, so I’ll let other jump into answering that.

a/b your mixes with commercially mastered stuff you know well and listen on various systems, ipod, home stereo, etc. there’s no easy way out!