A mixer I apprenticed under once told me "I don't like feeling like I work at a 7-11. Turn the lights down".

That was his way of saying he likes to work with the lights dimmed to almost off while editing or mixing because he says humans are visual creatures - i.e. when the lights are dimmed, you are more prone to have better listening abilities than when they are bright.

Do you work with the lights on? How much light do you prefer to use?


Do you then dim your computer screen to compensate for the dim room lights? It hurts my eyes when the room lights are dimmed!

5 Answers 5


It depends on what I'm doing.

If I'm doing creative stuff the lights are always on full. I've got overhead lights, plus two lamps on my desk pointed at the ceiling for more diffuse lighting. I even bought a smoked glass table-top to spread the light out a bit more.

I can't think in the dark, I need stimulation. It may hamper my auditory sensitivity, but I feel like my brain is better able to move around the space. I guess a good analogy for how I feel about trying to be creative in a dark room is that it would be like trying to put together a big puzzle on a small table. All of your pieces have to stay in the bottom of the box, because there's nowhere else to put them. Creativity needs a lot of room to spread itself out.

Also, it's harder to stare off into the distance when you can't see anything.

On the other hand, when I'm doing more precision stuff, mixing/EQing/level matching I tend to keep it darker. Not for the specific reason that your (seemingly slightly mean) former boss used to give, but just because it feels better that way. Come to think of it, I guess it does kind of force the focus onto the screen and what's coming out of the speakers...

My interest of late has been moreso in the creative side of things than the technical, so the lights are up full most of the time.


I think if you dim the lights then your sense of hearing becomes slightly heightened. I always prefer to make critical audio judgements in the dark!


Personally I like it dim or heavily diffused. Bright lights give me a headache and I find the darkness to be more atmospheric and inspiring. Sometimes I might open the blinds for some natural light as long as there isn't direct sunlight.

I like the concept of it forcing you to focus more on what you hear than potential visual distractions around the room.


Depends on the conditions... for my project studio, I had to completely rewire the lighting because it was too bright. Now I have awake and dim (theatre) mode for my lighting. I liked editing audio and watching films in the dark. Anything I need to be speedy about I turn on the lights as I'm more awake with the lights up.


My room has four sets of dimmable lights plus fluorescent overheads. The overheads only ever come on when I need to get behind the desk to fix some technical deal. The dimmable lights are usually half power or lower. They provide sufficient task/ambient lighting so I don't feel like I'm going blind. But I tend to agree that limited sight increases your other senses. I'd say that my lights are their lowest when I'm mixing or reviewing a mix.

Regarding computer screens, I think their brightness is only set to about 45-50% anyway, so I don't typically dim them any further. However, there have been many occasions where I'll take it a step further and just turn off the computer screens. With the D-Command in front of me, I have access to pretty much any info that the screen would tell me by the time I'm mixing. The screens can be more of a distraction than a help. Turning them off forces me to focus on the sounds coming out of the speakers rather than the ones scrolling across the timeline.

  • @Steve - Lucky Bastard. I love the D-Command. I worked on one for 3 years. Once you get used to one everything else becomes slow and sluggish. Really love the surround panner on it. Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 20:05
  • @Syndicate, I'm on a D-Command, not D-Control. No surround panner on this one, tho if I had the desk space I'd love a JLCooper Surround Panner ES. But I agree, I've used a pro control, a hui, a command8, & a 002 with PT. Nothing is as fast, elegant and customizable. At some point though I've got to get on the Eucon MC Artist series just for the macros. Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 22:20
  • @Steve - You're right, i did mean the D-Control. Oops. Yeah, the touchscreen on the D-Control is just so intuitive to use. The Eucon will do surround panning via the touchscreen. It might be cheaper to get an iPad with the Neyrinck V-Control Software if it has a surround pan window. You'd have a remote controller for PT to boot, which is awesome when alone and you need to do foley. Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 22:44
  • Thanks for the reminder @Syndicate, I forgot about the iPad/Neyrink combo! Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 1:27
  • iPad/Neyrink (pro) combo is the bomb .. saving my beans for this combo :)
    – studio13
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 2:05

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