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Variance in Level Preference of Balance Engineers: A Study of Mixing Preference and Variance Over Time

Limited research has been conducted that quantifies how much expert listeners vary over time. A task-based testing method is employed to discern the range of variance an expert listener display over both short and long periods of time. Mixing engineers are presented with a basic mixing task comprised of one stereo backing track and a solo instrument or voice. By tracking the range in level in which the mixing engineers place a soloist into an accompanying track over a number of trials, trends are observed. Distributions are calculated for three genres of music and variance is calculated over time. The results show that in fact the variance is relatively low, and even lower for the more experienced subjects. These results provide a baseline for future testing.

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