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quiet from speakers, but loud on headphones

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by MatchesMalone, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    Hello, I'm new to your forums. Sorry if I'm posting this in the wrong spot, but..
    I'm working on a soundtrack for a friend's documentary. I'm using my old Boss BR-1600. I've mixed and mastered a sample track and it sounds how I want it to as long as I play it through headphones. But when I unplug the headphones to listen to it through my computer speakers the track is barely audible, even with my volume cranked up. My friend is having the same problem with the track, so it's not just my computer.

    Does anyone have any ideas why this might be and what I might do to fix it? Any help would be much appreciated!

    I can attach a copy of the track if that might help.
     
  2. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    1 Mix 3 mp3 by MatchesMalone on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

    Here's a link to the track.
     
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I haven't listened but her is some basic advice. Normalize the track to -1dB. You may have to use light compression/hard limiting to get rid of some peaks prior to normalizing.
     
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    If this really is the final mix that you have done, it's now in a state to go for mastering. It needs further EQ and compression, but a proper mastering engineer will sort that out.

    One reason why you may not hear much on small computer speakers is that there's a lot of low-frequency energy in the track, and these low frequencies are of a greater amplitude than the more audible higher frequencies. Try it on full-range monitor loudspeakers and you will hear it.
     
  5. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    Thanks guys! I always try to avoid compression, because I feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing, but it looks like it's time to figure it out. I know I should own some good monitor speakers by now, but I don't.
    Anyway, I'll give it a shot and let you know how it turns out tomorrow.
    Thanks again!
     
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You simply cannot make proper mix decisions on headphones. That's why speakers are so damned important. This thing is all muddy low frequencies. It'll never translate to small speakers until most of the low end is filtered out. But it's all low-end. It's not something that's supposed to be presented in a predominant way because it never will. This has nothing to do with dynamic range compression or limiting. It has to do with spectral content. So everything is low-end, sine wave mud, it will always be that way. If it's low-end stuff that includes a greater harmonic structure, then it might cut through on smaller speakers without the low-end? To put it mildly, this piece you have created is just not fit for much of anything. It's nothing more than a subtle undertone that will mostly never be heard on anything. What part of a documentary is this supposed to accentuate? That's what you have to ask yourself or the producer.

    Everything sounds cool in headphones
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  7. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Hope you don't mind, but I downloaded your sample to have some fun, I sort of get into these meshy introspective things. Anyhow, I played with your clip and tried to produce it up as best as I can, but it's still not production ready. One thing has to be addressed with the source material that can't be addressed with mixing. That bass sample is horrible. Delete it. Find a new bass sample and use it, that one oscillates horribly and it's not musical. Maybe you used a tremolo effect, this needs to be addressed, it doesn't work on tha part, but it's fine on the guitar so leave that. Second, that feedback guitar part needs to be quieter, maybe put some automation on it so that when it goes into oscillation it sets back just a bit, but comes forward for the more notey parts. Somewhere between 1.5-3dB difference between loud and quiet parts should do it for that track I think.

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    I tried to work with the bass sample the best that I could, but... it's just doing bad things. There's only so much you can do...
     
  8. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I listened to this and to be honest, I don't get it....you have this repeating bass drone note that goes into feedback and then as that is subsiding (or hasn't fully) you barely hear some faint guitar picking way in the background and then it repeats.
    Really all you end up focusing on is this booommm...feedback...faint tink tink tink....booooom....feedback...faint tink tink tink.
    If that's what you want it to sound like and you "mixed" and "mastered" it that way, then I guess it is what it is.
    Most people would try to bring down that bass drone and eliminate that feedback and bring up the faint background guitar.
    Don't forget computer speakers have no bass unless you have a sub woofer with them and that is really all you hear in this.
    What brand /model of headphones are you using?
    Maybe they're hyped in the low end like Dr. Dre's or something like that and you like the bass sound.
    There's really no balance to this because of the droning bass notes and feedback.
     
  9. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    Agreeably, I got a "little" carried away with the low end. Guitarfreak, I did use a tremelo effect that I now realize shouldn't be used for low end parts, due to how much it's boosting the bass and all that nasty buzzing it's giving off when amplified. Thanks for making that track, by the way. It helped me notice a lot of the flaws in my "composition".
    DjM, I'm not using bass boosting headphones, but they also are not what I would call 'good' headphones. Obviously it's time I invested in a set of monitor speakers.. if I can afford them. The feedback was quite deliberate, though the aim of the piece was to create a pleasant if somewhat meloncholly background noise that was always intended to be played quietly, not really music per say, though obviously I failed at that.
    I did try adding compression and reducing a lot of the bass, but REMY was right. My composition may be beyond redemption. But I'm going to rerecord the droning part and see if I can't fix it anyway. If anything it will be a valuable learning experience.
    Thanks for you time guys, I'll let you know how it turns out.
     
  10. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Just out of curiousity....is that the entire composition?
    Or are you going to use this with some other parts layered over the top?
    Unless you have a treated room to listen to your mixdown using good accurate monitors, it may not make much difference. The headphones (whatever they are) will always give you less bass in your ear than speakers in a room, so you tend to over compensate for bass when trying to mix with them. Then everything sounds like mud on speakers. Headphones can't properly reproduce bass that well. They're fine for listening to mid and high details but not for overall mixing. People can "learn" the flaws in their headphones and then go back and forth between the speakers in the room and the headphones to get close to what they want.....but
    Without a treated room so your monitors can faithfully reproduce that flat response without boomy bass notes resonating all around the room, you won't get there either. The same thing will happen.
    If you get monitors and treat your mixdown space correctly for those speakers, then you'll be able to have a decent recording and sound.
     
  11. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    Well, it's more of a sample to get back on my feet, because I haven't recorded anything in quite a while. Practice, I guess would be more appropriate.
    If a more polished version of this is to appear in the film I don't think much would be added to it.. maybe one more track. But I really don't want it to stand out. I had the idea that it would serve as little more than background ambiance, something to fill the void and provide a mood.
    I did some scoring stuff for this same friend in college. Short films mostly, now he's asked me to score a full length documentary, and I'm not so sure my talents and equipment can accomodate this project.
    Anyway, this track is only 3 parts, that bass drone noise, a minimalistic melody track, and a sort of harmonious feedback. I rerecorded the first two parts and will post up the result shortly. So far it's still a bit quiet, but altogether much better sounding through speakers than before.
     
  12. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    Okay.. here's a somewhat improved version, though still imperfect. Low tones are still hard to hear and the feedback track could use some work too.. but I think much better, though that's not saying much!

    01 Mix 2 mp3 by MatchesMalone on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

    Hope you find it more palatable.
    I was thinking of adding low piano notes to accent the bass to make it stand out a bit more.
     
  13. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Have you tried compressing that bass? It still spikes and overdrives a lot in places...you can see those in the Soundcloud waveform!
    In the context of a background soundtrack it makes more sense now and I can understand the effect your going for. Melacholy sad scene sort of movement.
    The guitar part is up where it's more noticeable, and a piano sound with that would be appealing.
    Maybe slightly higher register than the guitar, that would open up the whole bass heavy thing.
    To me the bass sound could come down more and blend better in transition to the other parts...and a compressor on the bass would give you more control of that...
    I'd prefer like a fat thick bass in the basement as the foundation, gutteral, begins the feeling, but not the only dominate in your face....but that's just me!
     
  14. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Send me your source files if you like. The tonal balance is better now, not as bassy, but it still isn't anywhere near your vision of what the project should be. If you want, you can send me the source files without any mixing, effects, or EQ on them, and I will try to mix it in a way that will satisfy your vision for the project. I am obviously not going to charge you for this, so don't think I am trying to get anything from you, but the upside is that if you like what I (or anybody else here) can do with your mix, then we can tell you how we achieved such sounds and you will be better off now that you know what to listen for from now on.
     
  15. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    Phew.. I was a little worried you'd all still hate it!
    I'm going to keep working on it and see about expanding on some of the ideas, add a few pleasing notes to the melody, keep tinkering with the bass, add one or two more tracks, lengthen the piece by maybe half a minute and give it one last shot at mixing the track myself.
    Then I'll turn it over to you, Guitarfreak and let you tinker with it. Just give me a couple days.
    I'll also need to find a place to host the files. The raw track files are vr8 files, if I remember correctly. Let me know if the file type's a problem for you.. maybe I can convert them.
     
  16. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Hmm, vr8, that may present a problem. I think my DAW only accepts WAV and AIFF audio formats. You should be able to bounce the individual tracks in one of these formats, they're pretty standard in audio production. Just be sure to keep mono > mono and stereo > stereo on the bounce. Looking forward to seeing what you end up with.
     
  17. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    I can convert the files to WAV fairly easily, that shouldn't be a problem.
    I'll admit it's been a lazy weekend, so maybe tomorrow I'll try to put up the parts to the last version instead.
    However, I have a couple problems. The first being that the individual tracks have the effects recorded on to the track, their quite inseperable. This is because with the BR-1600 you can only put an effect on one track at a time, so you HAVE to record the tracks with the effect otherwise you'd only be able to use one effect on one track at a time. Kinda wierd but I've never been able to find a fix.
    The second problem I have is that I'm not sure where I can host these files so that others would be able to download them to their own computers. I've never really tried to do anything like this. Guitarfreak, you made it sound rather simple and it probably is but I how can I achieve this?
     
  18. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    ahhh.. I read your blog.. the answer was within! I'm downloading dropbox!
     
  19. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Active Member

    Well forget doing it tomorrow, I wanted to try it now!

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    Let me know if I did this correctly. I'm pretty sure these are the only tracks you'll need.
    Looking forward to seeing what you can do with this! Hopefully the fact that I can't remove the effects from the tracks won't be too big a problem.
    I'll start working on the improved version later. When I do I'll record it clean and then bounce the clean tracks with the effects to a different track for my own mix.
     
  20. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Cool man. Alright I had some fun with it. This is just quick and I haven't added anything or done any creative editing, everything just as it was and mixed in an ambient way. Tell me if you like it or if you want something changed or added and I'll see if I can help out.

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