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Out of tune on laptop speakers?

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by Rufio90210, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. Rufio90210

    Rufio90210 Active Member


    Im a beginner when it comes to recording, I am using garageband.

    I have monitors and a pair of Audio technical m50x headphones which i use for recording. I have a synth lead part which is a little strange and has phaser/pitch effects on it. When this is listened to with my headphones on or through monitors the lead sounds great, in tune and sits really nice with the music. However on laptop speakers (where a lot of people would listen to it) the lead synth actually sounds out of tune and flat!

    can anyone advise me on what I can do to get it sounding more like how I hear it in the headphones /monitors on laptop speaker.

  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The speakers in a Macbook are not bad as far a laptop speakers go, but no laptop is going to give you very good audio reproduction.

    You say the synth sounds good when listened to on headphones or monitors, so do you mean when the headphones or monitors are plugged directly into the synthesiser? Do you hear the "out of tune and flat" sound through headphones if you listen to the computer recording of the synth?

    If so, how do you have it connected to your computer for recording? Is it through the Apogee Duet that you talked about in another thread? Are you splitting the stereo output from the synth into L and R mono channels for recording? If recording from the headphone output, you need to use a lead called an insert cable to make sure the separate L and R signals are correctly taken to two channels on the interface. If you are using a standard TRS jack cable, for example, your interface would be recording only the difference between the L and R channels, which could account for the poor sound you hear.
    DonnyThompson and pcrecord like this.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It sounds as if, based on what Bos is telling you, that on the LT speakers, when hearing only the difference between L & R, that you are hearing only the pitch effect on the lead, and not the direct signal with the pitch effect, which is why it sounds out of tune to you.
  4. Rufio90210

    Rufio90210 Active Member

    Hi, Thanks for response.

    I have my headphones plugged into the apogee duet and I have also done direct into macbook the sound is very much the same and impressive until I try it on laptop speakers and it sounds out of tune.

    In regard to splitting stereo out put I am using Garageband and have the panning bang in the middle, I just tried more emphasis to L and R but still sounds out of tune.

    the midi keyboard I use is USB and just plugs direct into the macbook so it bypasses the apogee interface, would i need an insert cable for this?
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    OK, maybe you should have said that yours was a MIDI keyboard connected via USB - it makes a big difference. It means that the sounds that you hear when you hit a key on the synth are all being created inside the laptop. If these are being reproduced as expected on headphones or monitor speakers via both the Apogee Duet and the laptop headphone output, they are being synthesised correctly. That leaves the laptop speakers as being not up to the job of reproducing the sounds you are throwing at them.
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  6. Rufio90210

    Rufio90210 Active Member

    Hi boswell yes this is what I thought, so as I am new to mixing I understand that mixes sound different in all speakers so people listen to it in their car/headphones/ hi fi etc so they can mix it to sound good on everything. So my question is what should I do in the mixing to make laptop speakers sound closer to the in tune synth I hear in headphones / monitors . Im fine with it not sounding as good, Its just that it sounds flat in the laptop speakers.
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    You've got it a bit the wrong way around. To mix on you need the most truthful and accurate sound sources you can get. The let you hear the tweaks you put in. Then when you get it perfect, you swap to er, less good, but perhaps more common speaker types, and see what happens. In my studio, every mix is slightly bass heavy on ordinary hifi systems. Over the years, I've swapped practically every component apart from the speakers, which I know really well. I can make the bass a little lighter now, without the other speakers because I know just how much to roll off, and at what point.

    If you mix on a system that is 'random' or has little available bass, then you cannot hear what is going on at the bottom - so how do you perfect the EQ, or set the dynamics. You need your monitors to reveal how good the mix is. My macbook has audio software on it - but I NEVER attempt a mix, because the Macbook just doesn't have any bass. If I cannot hear it, that doesn't mean it's not in the mix. I use to for confidence replay - I hear music, I don't remotely hear quality. In my edit suite, one computer does have computer type speakers - two satellites for the HF and a central subwoofer. Mixing on that is guaranteed to produce a middy mix, and have too much mid range. I have a small powered pair of Edirols that I use when I record acoustic piano on location, and what they reproduce is pretty close to my studio monitors, just with the bottom octave rolling off - which is not a problem.

    I'm not sure if you picked up on the possible out of phase issue you have - many synths use two or more oscillators and when they beat together they give that thicker rich sound. In stereo, they might chorus together nicely. If you have your system mis-wired, it's feasible that what you are hearing is the difference between the two channels, or the sum. This could null out the two or more oscillators and leave you hearing the detuned one. The test would be simple. record the synth that is detuned first to the left only, then the right only, then pan it centre and record it at the same level on both channels. On replay, it should go left, right, both. If it doesn't, then your wiring is up the chute!

    Computer speakers are great for confirming audio is present. They are rarely any good for mixing on!
    DonnyThompson likes this.

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