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Here's Why You Listen Over Multiple Monitors When Mastering
#3062725 09/16/20 04:44 AM
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Some speakers put a magnifying glass on what might not matter with other speakers. I was listening to my latest album over some smaller speakers, sequenced with music from engineers I respect. My album had a bit of mud in comparison...granted I hadn't done a lot of critical listening, but still, I could hear a difference.

What's interesting is that I didn't hear this issue on other speakers designed for studio monitoring. But once I added a broad -1 dB dip around 380 Hz, it fixed the sound on the smaller speakers, but[/b] also sounded better on my other speakers, where this issue hadn't seemed present.

My theory is that the music didn't deviate that much from a flat response, but a small deviation became more obvious with a system that had a slightly larger deviation. In other words, you're not going to notice a +1 dB deviation from flat, but you [i]will
notice a +2 dB deviation from flat. So if you dial that back, it will sound fine on the system with more boost, but won't sound much different on systems that don't have that boost.

But hey...what do I know?

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Re: Here's Why You Listen Over Multiple Monitors When Mastering
Anderton #3062727 09/16/20 06:07 AM
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I have a pair of Aurotones for exactly this purpose. It is a lot of work to get things to sound remotely good on them - they are really crappy compared to my Genelec's. But when the mix sounds good on them, it sounds AMAZING on the Genelecs. They are great for getting kick/bass balanced right. They have almost no bass response, which means that one EQ's the second harmonic of the kick, and up in the 200's for bass. and when those frequencies work on a crappy little speaker, the mud is gone on the big ones too... It is fascinating. I wouldn't want to listen to them, and it is work to use them, but it is useful work in my experience.

Re: Here's Why You Listen Over Multiple Monitors When Mastering
Anderton #3062732 09/16/20 06:43 AM
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Mud is a great thing to find and kill.

I like to listen to pathetic, tiny speakers partly because I know that others do listen to them (laptop speakers, etc). I also like to know that I can still hear the kick and bass even if there is no bass possible coming out of the tiny cone.
It still needs to be there, especially so for tiny speakers.

It has been a big lesson in balancing tones/frequencies. Many things just do not need much sound going on down there in the first place, it is wasted energy and sonic clutter.


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Re: Here's Why You Listen Over Multiple Monitors When Mastering
Anderton #3062736 09/16/20 11:22 AM
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I’m in Mix Mode right now, and finding and removing the mud is the great challenge I’m always trying to overcome, especially as someone who loves him some bass. It is amazing how a tiny dip in a frequency you’re not really perceiving across the board will change everything. Getting everything sounding big, fat, and punchy without feeling like there’s a cheesecloth in front of it relative to my references... the quest for the holy grail.


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Re: Here's Why You Listen Over Multiple Monitors When Mastering
Anderton #3062739 09/16/20 11:50 AM
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My take on this is that while it's a good goal for your mix to sound as good as anything can sound on the speakers you're listening to at the moment, it's not a very consistent test. You and I can have the same speakers, we can both listen to the same mix, and you may think it sounds good while I think that it can use some tweaking. So I tweak, like what I did, then move a couple of feet and decide that wasn't the right tweak after all.

While I don't do mastering as it's defined today, nor do I work with music that's very tonally complex (and therefore is more subject to frequency build-up with very little external help - per your theory) my goal is just that it doesn't sound bad in a way that the listener will decide not to listen to it.

If you want a good absolute reference, probably a great set of headphones is better than any monitor speaker. If it sounds good on headphones, you can then see if there's another speaker that you care about that has some problems. If it just sounds different, then who cares? It'll sound different yet in another listener's environment.

Re: Here's Why You Listen Over Multiple Monitors When Mastering
Mike Rivers #3062765 09/16/20 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
My take on this is that while it's a good goal for your mix to sound as good as anything can sound on the speakers you're listening to at the moment, it's not a very consistent test.

What's consistent for me is taking an average over multiple speakers and multiple headphones, over a long period of time. You just have to accept that nothing will sound the same on anything that moves air to play back music. So, you aim for the best average possible because playback systems will always be a moving target.

The point of the mud removal reference wasn't to accommodate a particular set of speakers, but that those speakers revealed an anomaly that was not enough to be prominent on other speakers. Reducing at that frequency made the sound better on all speaker - by a fair amount on some speakers, and by a minuscule amount on others.

The ear is very good at compensating. For example if you use the Sonarworks Reference 4 and choose a profile designed for a different set of headphones than what you're wearing, at the first the sound will seem totally "off." But listen to it for a few minutes, and it starts to sound okay...and when you switch back to the correct profile, then it sounds wrong.

Sound is so slippery. The only way I've figured out a way around that is to take an average, based on listening to material over multiple playback sources, at different times of the day, and separated by long period of not listening so that your ears can reset.

[quote]If you want a good absolute reference, probably a great set of headphones is better than any monitor speaker.

I've only encountered one set of headphones that has a reasonably flat response, Sennheiser's HD 650. Most headphones are anything but flat, and also, the response varies even within individual models. However, as with speakers, when you listen over multiple sets of headphones, you can triangulate on what's a desirable sound over all of them. I'd rather have a mix where a frequency is off by +3 dB on one speaker and -3 dB on another, compared to +6 on one speaker and flat on another.

And then of course there are the response issues in the ears of the listener... eek


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